Friday, 12 October 2012

State of...Elitism (Flying the "friendly" skies)

My apologies in advance to the airline US Airways.  I have only had good experiences up to this point, and am probably just a little heated at an exchange that just happened a few minutes ago.

So I'm at the Buffalo Airport.   I flew in a few days ago and had some business meetings in the area.  Let me say this, I am a loyal Star Alliance member (Air Canada is my actual account).  Since I am based in the US most of my flights originate with US Airways (a Star Alliance member).  As such, I am able to collect points towards my Star Alliance / Air Canada account.

My original flight today was scheduled for 6:30pm.  I was lucky enough to arrive at the airport early (I just missed getting on a 1:30 flight) and was very much hoping to get on the 3:35 flights in order to get home and see my wife and son.  By taking the later flight I would certainly not get to see them as I have to drive down to Maryland tonight...but if I arrived early I could get home for an hour or so and spend some quality time with my family.

So I check in and go directly to the gate.  The gate attendant was not there yet so I grabbed a seat and waited.  When she arrived I was first in line to inquire about getting on the earlier flight.  The attendant, a very nice lady (I've only ever had good experiences with the US Airways staff), said that she would put me first on standby but because of weight/balance issues she wasn't sure I would get on the flight.

So I waited for about an hour before the flight landed, and during that time a handful of later passengers also inquired about securing a spot on the earlier flight.  They were given the same story and their names were taken for standby.  After all the current passengers had boarded, the attendant got word that they could accept TWO more additional passengers.  Great news right?  I'd get home early and would get to see my wife and son.  WRONG.

Two people who had checked in and gotten on the standby list AFTER me were "preferred" US Airways customers.  They had Gold and Silver status and therefore they got to board the plain.  It did not matter that I had been there for two hours waiting and hoping to get on - their status trumped my dedication.

As I said, I'm a frequent traveller and have accrued nearly 100,000 air miles with Star Alliance (Gold status), but apparently I don't have the correct status with US Airways needed to bump people.  I completely understand the theory that you need to take care of the customers who take care of you.  In the sports world I would do the exact same thing (an individual ticket holder versus a Platinum Seat Holder would receive similar benefits).  But that doesn't mean that I'm not pissed that I was bumped because of these two other people who didn't have the wherewithal to arrive at the airport early.

Not sure if I need to get a US Airways account in order to receive this kind of loyalty, but with the amount of traveling I do it certainly didn't feel "right".  Actually, regardless of the amount of travel I do it didn't feel "right".  I arrived early and waited my turn and then these two jokers show up with a few minutes to spare and get right now.  It's this elitist crap that pisses me off.  I know, I'm hypocritical since I just said I understand and would likely do the same thing in that position...but it's still wrong.

Bottom line?  I should scrap the whole Star Alliance crap and just plan to fly WestJet more often.  They seem to have their priorities straight.

Thanks US Airways - now I don't get to see my wife and son until Sunday.  I hope you're happy with yourself.  I'm surely not.  Hey, at least I got screwed!


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