You Only Live Once, This Is How I'm Doing It!

Dorothy can keep Kansas

Ugh, today was another fun filled* day of standby. We woke up at 3am so we could catch a bus to Denver airport. Our flight didn’t actually leave until 8:15 but since it was a Sunday the bus options were very early or too late. We had breakfast and hung around the airport for the better part of three hours. We got on our first flight no problem and slept like rocks the whole time. Unfortunately, that was where our non-rev luck ran out.

All the direct flights from Denver to Chicago looked impossible. Any major city I could think of was equally overbooked. The most open flight was to Kansas City (MCI). That also seemed like a good option because my mom happened to be at a conference in Kansas City so we planned to meet up and fly home together. The flights were a couple people oversold but with a little luck it could have been a quick, easy day. Ha.

Flight after flight went out completely full with a list of standbys left sitting at the gate. Almost all the standbys were paying customers who were trying to get where they were going sooner. For obvious reasons they get priority over employees. While I understand the how and why it was frustrating to watch people walk up and immediately get handed a seat while I was left behind. To be fair, there were some paying customers that didn’t even make it on and they were just as discouraged.

I really think it wouldn’t have been as bad if we hadn’t been at MCI. That airport is ridiculous. There isn’t one security check point like at most airports. At MCI each group of three or four gates has their own enclosed area with individual security. The only thing on the gate side are chairs, restrooms and a little concession stand. Not even a drinking fountain. If you’re hungry or thirsty you’re forced to purchase insanely high priced food and drink. I’m talking $8 for a small, mediocre sandwich or $2.50 for a 20oz bottle of water or pop. There are restaurants on the other side of security but no liquids over 3oz are allowed back in the gate area.

This is what I liked to call the zoo.

There was one poor lady with several rowdy kids. She freaked out on the CSR because there was no way for her to get a cold glass of water without dragging her kids and loads of thing back through security. Not easy to do for anyone much less a lady with screaming kids. In the end I think she was forced to exit because TSA rules are what they are, CSRs can’t break them any more than passenger can.

I wish I could have just stretched out across several chairs and taken a nap but that wasn’t possible because of the armrests.

The skinniest of persons couldn’t fit under those. Just plain cruel.

We ended up spending a grand total of 9 hours in that itty bitty little airport. Finally, we were called for the very last flight of the day. I’ve never been so happy to get a boarding card in my life. The flight was so quick it was almost a joke. Up and down in just about an hour. We literally could have driven home in the time we waited. I love my travel benefits but I’m probably going to think really hard before I go anywhere any time soon unless the flights are wide open. We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto and boy am I glad.

*and by fun filled I mean exhausting

The waiting game

Today Joel and I are on our way to Denver for the weekend. For some reason the flights were abnormally full especially considering there’s a flight almost every hour between O’Hare and Denver.

Not to brag or anything but I am pretty awesome at looking at loads and figuring out whether or not I’m going to make it on the flight. I’m also not a fan of sitting around airports all day especially when I’m not being paid to do so. Normally if I don’t think I’ll get on a flight I just don’t try. I seriously hate the hassle.

Anyway, I checked the loads last night and the first several flights of the day were very oversold. That, and the fact that it was almost 2am convinced me not to even try for them. There was a 777 going out late afternoon and even though economy was almost 90 people oversold I thought we could make it into business class since it was completely empty. Silly me. Not only did they not call one single standby, some people with paid tickets didn’t even get on.

The next flight was a 757. Not as big but still I thought maybe. Nope. No standbys on that one either. Crap! Now I was starting to get frustrated. I seriously almost never miss a flight, especially ones I think I’m going to get on.

The next flight was another 777. Our names were literally on the edge of available seats vs standbys. Also, this was the second to last flight of the day. As boarding drew to a close and our names still looked like they miiight get called the suspense was killing me. Twenty one seats left and we were 20 and 21. The CSR called several names and then just said everyone else come up. Yes! You better believe I was the first in line. (in the least obnoxious way possible) I knew we were close to the very last to get on the plane and when we were given middle seats in the back of the plane I wasn’t at all surprised. I was shocked however when I saw we were sitting together. I would’ve been happy with a seat in the lav so I was ecstatic to be able to sit next to Joel. When you’re flying standby it’s seriously the little things.

I feel so lucky to have gotten this job where I can do things like fly to Denver just to visit friends. There’s no way we could afford to just buy a plane ticket right now. Even though it’s frustrating and I’m not able to actually work my job right now I’m so grateful. It may not be glamorous but I love, love, love being a flight attendant.

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