Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Candy and Travel (and trip reports...)

Everyone love candy somehow, even for people with diabetes.

A lot of people do not realize that candy can in fact help you in travel at all.

Here is my personal experience during Christmas Eve and Christmas when I have to do a Mileage Run for my United MileagePlus Premier Platinum status for next year.

(The Candy I used was Ferrero Rocher Fine Hazelnut Chocolate.)

After I finished the so-called Christmas party (Birthday Party to be exact), I drove my car to the SFO Long-Term Parking.

And - Long-Term Parking was full (again). I was referred to other terminal parkings as the overflow for Long-Term Parking. So I parked at International Terminal G, which is about 5 minute walk to Terminal 3.

To me, even better - no need to wait for shuttle.

December 24, 2011 – UA 266 (San Francisco, CA > Chicago O'Hare)

I booked for the last flight to Chicago on Christmas Eve.

I checked in at the airport one day prior (as my sister was traveling to Hong Kong by the award ticket I booked for her on Singaporean Airlines). But since it will be a quick turn-over, I proceeded to Premier Access counter to get my return boarding pass.

I offered the Ground agents my candy. Candy worked like alcohol. The agents started talking about the mess about the merger of United and Continental. Oh well...they were not news, at least to me. Then I proceeded to Security.

Premier Access Security does not operate all-day long. But there is a line at the regular security that offer to premium customers. So, within minutes, I went through security and I was at the gate (my gate is exactly outside regular security).

My upgrade did not get cleared, which was expected. But I felt sad because I ranked #1 on the list (given that I purchased the ticket less than 2 days before departure) - I can't believe I could make that high.

All the ground agents appreciated my offering of candy. And this got more interesting when in the aircraft.

I offered candy to every single flight crew (including Captain and First Officer).

During in-flight service, when I asked for water, do you know what I get? The entire bottle.

(Usually, flight attendants give a cup of water only. What I got was enough to fill the cup for about 36 passengers - United's water is in a big bottle. Airlines do not give out the entire bottle easily, unless you are traveling in premium classes or you are top-tier elite, which I saw before when I last travel with Cathay Pacific.)

I was never thirsty during my flight at all time.

And the flight was landed ahead of schedule by about half an hour.

December 25, 2011 – UA 859 761 (Chicago O'Hare > San Francisco, CA)

I booked the first flight return to San Francisco (so in theory, I did not lose any time at all - as I spent my sleeping time in the air).

First, breakfast time (or mid-night snack) - Mr. McDonald - to be honest, nothing was really opened at that kind of hour, especially, my flight was first to land at Chicago O'Hare.

Unless my outbound flight, my upgrade was cleared ahead of time.

But there was an issue - my flight was overbooked (I had been wondering - how could that be overbooked, especially seats were available 2 days before departure).

So you know the next - Voluntary Denied Boarding.

How candy helped me? The ground agents did not intend to allow me to do so, as I was confirmed in First Class. (But for real - who cares about the breakfast?)

And for the entire duration of the mess (Yes - my flight was serviced by a Boeing 777), the agents had been extremely nice to me.

So United gave me my Christmas present - $400 Type B voucher.

Due to extreme mess for holiday travel, I was confirmed for an afternoon flight by standby for earlier.

My status and candy kicked in again.

I was confirmed on the next flight, which was 45 minutes later than the original.

And the agent assigned 7C as my seat.

(For those who do not know, 7C is the first row of Economy Plus with a large legroom space. Usually, Row 7 are filled the fastest, as well as Exit Row seats.)

I offered candy to every single flight crew (including Captain and First Officer) again.

Don't worry - I had not finished my water bottle yet (so I requested nothing for service).

And this got interesting - my seat cushion did not stick to the seat. I told the flight attendant and asked for a Skykit. He gave me 2.

And the funniest was - I returned to the same gate as I departed.

My cost:

Ticket - About $220 (after Type A voucher)
Candy - $6 (from Walgreens)

My earning:

2 Regional Premier Upgrade (Because of this trip and denied boarding, I make it to next level)
11076 Redeemable Miles (Original flight miles with 100% elite bonus and 100% route promotion)
$400 Type B voucher
2 X $75 Type A voucher
You can tell the rest - was my money worth?
I am not asking you to "bribe" the employees for the benefit.

What I am trying to express is they are humans as well. So if you treat them nice, they treat nice as well.

Showing or arguing as an entitlement class will never make your travel easy at all.

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