Thursday, July 21, 2011

Penang to Portland & Austin: Portland to Austin; First Bump ever

I got to airport around 9 am to catch my 11 am flight to San Francisco.  I got in the Business class/*A Gold line to speak to a check-in agent to get my BMI Diamond Club added to the booking. While waiting in line, I notice there was a long line of economy class passengers waiting to speak to the check-in agents and what was even more shocking was that there was a United Airlines employee serving them drinks while they stood in a line. When did United start having such good service? Was this only at Portland airport? I approached the employee who was handing out drinks on when this perk started and she just smiled and said that the folks in the line have been waiting for about 3-4 hours and there was a United wide computer/networkshutdown earlier in the morning. This was going to be a “fun” day of flying especially for people like me who weren’t in a rush to get to their destination!  

I was originally scheduled to fly Portland – San Francisco – Austin but due to the network shutdown, my San Francisco flight was delayed for about an hour and that would make me miss my connection to Austin. The reservation systems had protected me and rebooked me on Portland – San Francisco – Los Angeles – Austin. I asked one of the check-in agents if they needed volunteers but they said this was only done at the gate – kind of figured she just wanted me out of there.

I headed to the Red Carpet Club where I asked the sole agent working the lounge that day to put me on the volunteer list. I figured the chances were good considering the morning flights were cancelled. She originally put me on a later flight to Los Angeles but might be overbooked as well. I could have probably gotten away “double bump” but negotiated instead to leave on the red-eye to Houston connecting to Austin but in first class instead. After a couple of phone calls to what I assume was Continental about releasing the first class seats, she gave me my first class tickets and $400 USD United vouchers for being bumped. 

My "home" in the RCC for the afternoon:

I spent the rest of the day catching up on work and trip reports that I was behind on in the Red Carpet Club before heading out of the airport to the Washington Square mall for some window shopping and dinner. The lounge itself was nothing spectacular but provided a quiet space and the free beer was nice (they serve a really good local Roque beer!). The lounge itself never got too busy or packed and at the end of the day the agent working got so bored she was helping with the cleaning and dishes just to keep awake. The only downside was the lounge closes at 7pm so there was no lounge to use for the later evening and red-eye flights. I spent the last few hours landside at one of the restaurants doing tastings of really good Oregon wines.

At the boarding gate for the flight to Houston, the ground agents announced that the flight was overbooked and they were looking for volunteers and were offering $250 USD vouchers plus a hotel to leave on the early morning flight instead. I debated whether to approach the counter but in the end the my flyertalk nerd in me gave in and I did asked to be put on the list but was denied as they were only looking for folks in coach.

This was my first time flying Continental Airlines in ~5 years. The IFE was great with live DirectTV available on the flight - more airlines should start offering this.  There was a cold snack plate consisting of cheeses and cold cuts served on this flight (didn’t manage to take any pictures of it). I fell asleep a couple of hours into the flight while watching TV and woke up right as we were about to land.
DirectTV for IFE
Houston airport was pretty dead when we arrived at around 6 in the morning. I spent the rest of the time in transit in the main President’s Club lounge (there are a couple in Houston) and it was nice to be able to have a hot shower to get the day started. 
View from the lounge

President's Club
I slept wheels up to wheels down all the way from Houston to Austin. Was too tired after arriving in Austin almost a day late..

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