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Old 03-31-2009, 07:16 PM
 
Location: Hanover, MD
41 posts, read 119,803 times
Reputation: 30

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Hey all--

This weekend, I had a new experience that totally ruined my Sunday.

I was supposed to fly from Washington D.C. (out of BWI) to Boston. I, like any other person, purchased my ticket way in advance ... but because I wanted to pay for my checked baggage in cash instead of with my credit card, waited to check in until I was at the airport (which is not something I've done in years).

I got there sufficiently ahead of time and received a "Seat Request" boarding pass instead of my usual boarding pass, but wasn't worried about it. When I made it through security, I went straight to the gate and asked a woman at the Delta desk for my seat assignment as the person at the general ticketing desk instructed me to, and she said she'd call me when she'd assigned my seat. After waiting a however long for the boarding process to start, I began to realize (as she called the name of other passengers but omitted mine over and over) that I wasn't going to make it onto the plane.

A half hour of drama later (which included me being put on the plane just before the doors closed, only to sit on the tarmac for twenty minutes and then getting asked to get off the plane because of "weight and balance" issues) I was given a voucher for a free Delta flight as well as a seat assignment on another plane to Boston three hours later. I was pretty upset (i.e. tearful, not yelling ... I don't do well with this sort of thing) not only because I had things to do that day in Boston that I was going to miss, but because I had paid for a ticket on that plane.

I didn't make it on because I was apparently the last to check in for the flight, and they had oversold the flight.

It's completely bewildering to me that they sell more tickets than they can seat on a particular plane. Maybe I'm naive, but does anybody know the story behind this practice? Why do airlines to that?

Thanks!
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Old 03-31-2009, 09:20 PM
 
Location: Olympus Mons, Mars
5,707 posts, read 8,616,144 times
Reputation: 5807
it's common, I have got bumped myself in the past. Mine happened with US Airways and they also gave me a free voucher which was pretty much worthless. I guess it's best to check in early.
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Old 03-31-2009, 09:51 PM
 
Location: Hanover, MD
41 posts, read 119,803 times
Reputation: 30
Thanks for responding. I'm sure you'll agree with me - it totally blows. As I tried to explain to the gate agent, I don't care when I checked in relative to the other passengers ... I paid to get out of BWI on that flight and I think that entitles me to a seat. She told me that Delta guarantees that it'll get me from point a to point b, but not the time frame. My response, though, is that in booking my ticket I had a choice. The flight I initially booked was more expensive than the one I was ultimately on. If the only guarantee Delta (and any airline, as I've begun to hear that this is a sort of unanimous position) can make is that they'll get me to my destination on the day I booked my flight for, they should be charging a flat rate by day without varying by flight time (as they do).
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Old 04-01-2009, 06:49 AM
 
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
1,410 posts, read 3,563,723 times
Reputation: 386
Just another reason that i show up at the airport at least 2 hours before any flight i take. This policy is not right, but it happens.

G Man
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Old 04-01-2009, 07:40 AM
 
12,327 posts, read 18,437,797 times
Reputation: 19236
Usually they ask for volunteers first, and they usually get a few that jump on that to get the voucher (although, in my opinion, those travel vouchers are so limited as to be worthless). Involuntary bumping is pretty rare, but it happens. 3 hours late isn't really that bad.

Just part of the fun of traveling...
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Old 04-01-2009, 10:00 AM
 
11,939 posts, read 21,566,368 times
Reputation: 11750
Airlines overbook flights because a certain percentage of folks don't show up, they know about how many on a per flight basis as an average. Because profit margins are razor thin (or in general, negative, as airlines lose more money than they make) every extra seat sold counts. I remember reading a Southwest financial report that indicated had they had 1.8 less people per flight year round they would have lost money.

On a side note why did you put "weight and balance issues" in quotations? Did you not believe that was why you were removed? Judging by your writeup you didn't push back and they were still loading bags and loading fuel as the weather in Boston was bad that day. It's even possible they were over fueled by a few hundred pounds which meant you lost your seat.
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Old 04-01-2009, 10:19 AM
 
Location: virginia beach, virginia
128 posts, read 577,755 times
Reputation: 65
Air travel isn't "fun and games" anymore and really hasn't been for quite a while. As someone mentioned they always get there 2 hours ahead of time. I do to. There is just so much that can happen. As has been mentioned elsewhere, automobile travel is in vogue again. A lot of us only put up with this crap when forced to. When you put your body at the mercy of the airlines you've got to expect this sort of thing to happen. the only USA airline that I consider half way decent is SouthWest. At least they have a good attitude and seem appreciative of our business.
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Old 04-01-2009, 12:56 PM
 
Location: Hanover, MD
41 posts, read 119,803 times
Reputation: 30
Thanks for so many helpful responses. And yeah, Dd714, arriving at my destination at 4:30 instead of 12:30 isn't eight hours of weather delays or not being able to get out of the region period. I'm a senior in college and it was the end of my spring break, and the day before I had to turn in my completed thesis film. I had about ten hours of work left, which wouldn't have been too bad had the day panned out as I'd planned. I'd like to think of purchasing a ticket for something (particularly a flight) as entering into a small contract with the airline. I paid to get out of BWI at a certain time, and since the plane wasn't delayed by weather or something comparable, I felt I should've been on that flight.

Re: the quotations around "weight and balance" ... I certainly am not the authority on planes and what it takes to get one up in the air. I put that in quotes because it's a pretty generic concept to me, but it's what I was told was the problem and I was simply reporting it back.

I won't even get into the frustration and - being completely honest - feelings of embarrassment I had when I boarded the plane last (well after everybody was in their seats), red faced and huffing and puffing from jogging on the tarmac, took my seat in the back and got comfortable ... only to be isolated and asked (pretty loudly) to get off the plane. I'm a big girl and I'm pretty chill, but I don't think anybody wants to be singled out and have to gather their things and get off. Especially given that I didn't do anything wrong.
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Old 04-01-2009, 03:36 PM
 
11,939 posts, read 21,566,368 times
Reputation: 11750
Weight and balance issues aren't really generic, either you are overweight or out of center of gravity limits. I guess they could have specified either one but typically they go hand and hand, and honestly passengers really don't care, we just want to get there .

Sucks about your experience, here's a video to put it in perspective Fast forward to 2:00


YouTube - Everything's amazing, nobody's happy
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Old 01-02-2011, 10:22 AM
 
1,749 posts, read 3,990,169 times
Reputation: 4621
bumpity bump. I find the concept of having to race to the airport to beat other passengers because in an oversold situation the first one to get to joe-disgruntled-desk-agent is the first to get a seat, rather preposterous.

Happened to me this Xmas on Airtran, who doesn't allow seat confirmation until 24 hours before online or at the airport. 2 hours people say? Try 3 hours before. Online thing was down all night so I knew it wasn't gonna be pretty on travel day. Yep, like the cattle we are, people camped out since 4am at the airport for a 1600hrs departure, by the time my "dignified" @ss strolled up that line 2.5 prior to takeoff i was so the last kid to get picked at dodgeball it wasn't even funny. This is ridiculous. I shouldn't have to slash other passengers tires at home in order to secure a seat on a reservation I made 2 months before. It's insane. It is all more acute for me as I fly for the military and work with some of the bubbas in the cockpit.

As I understood it the only airline that advertised their reservation as a "fall of saigon" process was Southwest, i now know Airtran puts me in the same risk.

Are there airlines that outright will not put you in that situation? Everytime I have reserved flights with Delta and AA I have had the opportunity to pick and confirm a seat AT THE TIME OF RESERVATION, which as I said before can happen months in advance. That way, I don't have to camp out at the airport parking and try to boobie trap fellow passengers on their way to try and get on my seat LOL

Racing other people to the counter for a ticket I spent 700 dollars two months ahead? Screw that, I'd drive it if there wasn't a damn ocean in the way. Airlines have gone to hell both for the customer and for the employees. I'd do that job for 200K/yr...I would maybe put up with the QOL issues for 120K/yr.....but for 80-100K/yr with the first decade being under 80K? Forget it, let cabotage have at it and kill the industry once and for all. I;ll go chase illegals down the border for that much in a cessna and get a federal bennie package for my troubles and never bounce a check or be furloughed.
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