08 January 2009

Woohoo I'm Important!

As some of you may have noticed, I travel a lot. And a large percentage of it involves trips originating at LAX and landing at JFK. Each of those trips results in 2490 elite-qualifying frequent flier miles. Do that five times in one year, and throw a few other random trips (Japan didn't count since those were award tickets), and you've hit 25,000 miles. That's the magic number for American Airlines to deem you a human worthy of talking to other real humans and skipping ridiculous lines. It's also called AAdvantage Gold Elite, if you want to feel really special. The benefits of Gold include exit row seats, earning extra miles, and using the Priority AAccess (yes, I too want to vomit all over everything with an extra A in it) lines. Nothing to spectacular. Until last weekend.

We booked tickets on the 430 flight from LAX to JFK. Having only flow this route 70 million times, we were both home by 2. At least we thought we were. A person (see? real humans!) called to let us know that our flight had been delayed until 730, but we could take the 1105 flight that had been delayed until 415. If there is one thing that sucks more than being locked in an airplane bathroom for 6 hours, it would have to be rushing to the airport. Wait, that's reversed. Regardless, Matt turned down their offer, while I struggled to avoid squeezing his neck until his eyes popped out. I was NOT making my dad pick us up at the airport at 330 in the morning. 1230 was bad enough, but 330? That's cruel. I'd rather pay a driver to retrieve us.

With some shoving and much ado, we were out the door a half hour later. At the airport, we strode past the peons to the special people ticket counters, hoping that an agent would make our dreams come true by putting us on the earlier flight. Sadly, she wasn't able to make those kind of changes, so it was time to be violated by the TSA. Whoever thought giving them fake badges and dark blue shirts would gain the agents more respect obviously forgot that the people wearing them were still going to be mean and bossy. Blech.

Once fully dressed, we high tailed it to gate 49A, which was conveniently located on the other end of the terminal. Shockingly, there was a long line of people waiting to talk to the gate agent. Passengers from our flight and from a diverted San Francisco flight we're vying for the few open seats. We didn't have to wait long as the ogre/gate agent declared that he was not putting any more people on standby. While there were already 28 people on the list, just kicking everyone away was not appreciated. To avoid the impending riot, we walked at a leisurely pace to the Admiral's Club (hmm - they seem to have forgotten an A there).

Once inside, we spoke to one of the nice and helpful miracle workers in a vain attempt to get to JFK before sunrise. We told her what happened, and she said if the gate agent really said that, then she wasn't supposed to put more people on the list. So she didn't. She also didn't print out standby tickets for us and suggest running. Take that subspace.

Back at the gate, the standby list had grown to 31. But we were 4 and 5. Why? Gold! We automatically were put in front of the peons. Not only did we get on the plane, we got seats next to each other! Victory!

*weekend and birthday party noises*

On Sunday morning, AA called my cell phone. I picked it up and asked what horrible thing had happened. Our flight out of EWR was overbooked, but if we were willing to take the 500 or 730 flight out of JFK, we'd be bumped up to first class. Hmm, let me think ab.... YES! HELL YES! Humans say such wonderful things compared to the drivel spewed by automated systems.

At the airport, we calmly walked past the never ending line of infrequent travelers and into the Priority AAccess area. Sure enough, there were two first class tickets waiting to be printed for us. At the gate, there were 16,000 people waiting to glare at us. First class boards first, and quite a few people were more than unwilling to let me through. I actually had to push past the final human barrier after she ignored three requests to let me pass.

While not the newest seats in the world, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. There was a five course meal, warm cookies and milk before landing, and a first class only bathroom that was significantly less sticky than the one in the back of the plane. It even nice paper towels and some napkins folded into decorations. As an added bonus, we were loaned portable dvrs loaded with games, movies, and tv shows. Now it's going to extra super suck next time we fly and are stuck in steerage.

The moral of this story? If you fly way too much, AA will treat you like a human being instead of an object en route. And when it finally happens, all the crappy flights spent in the middle seat suddenly a means to an end instead of just pure hell.


pennyfore said...

Wow, that's AAwesome! :)

farniks said...

not bad, but really important people always take a private jet -- just a suggestion.

dreamerj25 said...


moonlightalice said...

I'd be happy for you, except that I hate your kind. I am but a wee peasant.

osmodion said...

private jets are considered a faux pas in this economy

osmodion said...

I'll be returning to peasantville shortly. Save me a seat?

farniks said...

If you're simultaneously begging for government money while flying in one...yeah. Otherwise, maybe not.