Getting Bumped

It’s happened to most of us while traveling – getting bumped.  However I’ve been the recipient of both kinds, good bumps and bad bumps.  Allow me to stray from my typical blog model and share with you a couple of anecdotes from my now long and storied travel history.  Interestingly, both bump events happened when I was on personal travel for leisure.In 2005 I was scheduled for an eight day long trip to Ireland.  My itinerary had me leaving Washington and connecting in Boston for a once-a-day departure to Dublin in the evening.  When I arrived at Reagan National Airport, I was surprised to learn that I had been bumped from my shuttle flight from Washington to Boston and placed on a later flight.  The later flight would have me missing my connection however, my once daily connection and the only way I could get to Ireland that day.  And despite the airline’s best efforts (or no effort), I couldn’t be rebooked on another airline to ensure I’d make my connection.  Thus I lost an entire day of my vacation to Ireland because I wouldn’t be able to get on the flight to Dublin until 24hrs later.  What made matters more complicated was that I was meeting my friend who would be sleeping at a London airport the night prior and waiting for my arrival in Dublin in the morning.  She had been traveling the globe for six months and did not have cell phone capability.  My only hope was to call the airport police while she was sleeping in the airport somewhere and have her paged until she came to the phone.  Miraculously, I was able to reach her and let her know she’d be on her own in Dublin on the first day.  The happy ending to this story?  The next day, for my inconvenience, I was upgraded to first class.  International first class!  Fully reclining seats, a five course dinner, and all the sleep I could muster.  This is the only way airlines can repay travelers for missing out on 13% of their vacation.

Just this year I was traveling with my girlfriend to Spain.  I had purchased her ticket using air miles and we had purchased my own ticket the traditional way.  Because of that, it wasn’t immediately clear to the airline that we were, in fact, traveling together.  For that reason, they paid no attention to our seating next to each other, and bumped me.  But this time, a good bump.  This time I had status!  And so they moved me from seat 25G to seat… 1A.  And they left her behind in seat 25H.  On this particular aircraft, rows 2 through 6 were a special business class but row 1 was a class unto itself.  While the bump was a very kind gesture, I sure couldn’t appreciate it because they’d be splitting us up for 8 hours.  There was no chance of getting a second upgrade either.  And so sadly, I thought it would be much easier for her to ask the person who was sitting in the middle seat of the twenty-fifth row if he or she might like to have a try at row one, than it might be for me to ask the person in seat 1B who may have actually paid for his or her luxurious upgrade, if the twenty-fifth row would have any appeal.

Mission accomplished.  That is, I gave up my sleeper seat, my five course luncheon complete with ice cream sundae bar, for the comfort and confines of being with my girlfriend.  Awh, how thoughtful.  Just another bump in the sky.

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