VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA -- The next time your flight is overbooked and the airline asks for volunteers to give up their seat for travel vouchers, tell them you're interested.
That's the lesson I learned this week in Vancouver, returning home from a brief golf trip to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler and some Sunday golf action at the RBC Canadian Open.
While waiting at the gate for my connection to Los Angeles on Alaska Airlines, the gate agents announced an oversold situation by SEVEN seats and offered $400 travel vouchers to those with flexible travel plans willing to be rebooked.
Since my current itinerary had me arriving home in Austin at 11:30 p.m., I didn't bother going to the counter. I didn't want to be stuck on a flight that would keep me in Los Angeles overnight. But the agent kept getting on the PA every five minutes or so pleading for volunteers. Finally, they just needed "one more volunteer!"
For some reason, they called my name to scan my passport, but while doing so, the agent asked if I wouldn't mind getting bumped for the voucher. They didn't have to scan my passport at all... I rationalized, believing they had some evil plan up their sleeve.
"I really have to get home tonight," I pleaded, nervous my willingness could become involuntary if I showed even the slightest hint of flexibility (it's happened before).
But apparently, the agent saw a glimmer of hope in my please-don't-make-me-stay-in-an-LAX-hotel-tonight eyes. She called over to American Airlines and found me a seat on a flight an hour later to Dallas with a quick transfer to a plane headed to Austin. In fact, this itinerary would get me home at 10:20 pm, over an hour sooner than my original itinerary.
Not only that, Dallas has an inter-terminal shuttle that is secure, so there is no going through security for an annoying second time like the unsecured terminal system at LAX.
And to boot, she still wrote me up a $400 travel voucher for the "trouble." The whole process felt like stealing.
The kicker? As I boarded for Dallas an hour later, I noticed the Alaska Airlines flight to LAX was now delayed.