Updated June 22, 2020.
“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
Over the last year or two, “kindness” has become the buzzword in all aspects of our lives. I think this is a great shift in our culture, and I hope the trend becomes a mainstay. Whether your preferred act of kindness is giving compliments, supporting small businesses, or committing to just saying nothing when opportunities arise, you definitely have the power and ability to make the world a kinder place.
So how does that translate to travel? Kindness on your next trip could be saying “please” and “thank you” to a flight attendant, putting someone else’s luggage up in the overhead bin for them, or just smiling at the TSA officer who’s scowling at the end of their shift. But I recently got to experience some very unexpected benefits of doing my preferred airline, United, a bit of a favor.
Due to weather in the Midwest (a typical wintertime travel hazard), which caused connection issues, my non-stop flight to Dallas was oversold by 10 people—that’s quite a lot of oversold seats! So the gate agents asked for 10 volunteers to take a different flight in return for a $20 food voucher and a $1000 e-certificate for a future flight. That’s huge!
The next available non-stop to Dallas was 12:35pm, a solid four hours from the time of the announcement, and arriving at 3:30pm, over 4 hours later than originally planned. So I hopped on the United app quickly and saw that there was an 8:25am flight to Houston that could connect me to Dallas and asked the gate agent if I could make that route work instead. And she said yes!
Kindness #1: Waiting for Me
My new gate was about 3/4 mile away (from D2 to C14 for those familiar with IAD), so the kind gate agent at D2 called down to the new gate to let them know I was coming and to wait for me.
Kindness #2: Having My New Boarding Pass Ready
The agent down at C14 was patiently awaiting my arrival (everyone else had already boarded) and even had my new boarding passes printed for me! The first flight went off without a hitch.
Kindness #3: Upgraded!
So, I bought my original ticket with airline miles. That means I only had to pay the taxes ($11.20 round trip), but I would not be earning miles or be eligible for my usual 1K benefit of a complimentary upgrade. I was assigned a middle seat in the middle of the second flight, and that was ok with me. But when I arrived at the gate, I saw on the United app that I had been upgraded to First Class!
Read on: Benefits of Airline Loyalty
The $20 food voucher was good for 1 week, so I saved it for my return flight from Dallas to IAD a few days later. I was able to get some supper and water for the flight home!
As for that $1000 e-certificate, the world is our oyster! I have one year from the date I received it to book a flight, but we all know it wouldn’t last that long. We haven’t decided where to go yet, but we’re looking at Key West, Hawaii, or splurging on the one-of-a-kind United Island Hopper that will let us skip around to sparsely populated islands between Hawaii and Guam! Stay tuned to find out what we choose.
I’m not writing this to tout what a kind person I am, but more to highlight that if you do your airline a favor and take that later flight or change your plans just a little, you can be given kindness back in return, maybe in multiple ways! Be kind, get kind.
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