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Old Jun 14, 10, 2:41 pm   #1
 
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IAH GA Shenanigans exposed on the spot - and the hilarity that ensues.

My 17 year old daughter was flying to DCA (CO 358) yesterday for one of those Future Leader Conferences things. Although she is a very experienced flyer, this was her first time flying on her own. She wasn't particularly nervous about it -her mother and I were a different story, however.

By the time I booked her flight, I had to go with an H fare, so it was not cheap. I then used 15k to waitlist her for the upgrade. I did this to hopefully make her first trip flying alone a little more special for her.

Checked her in right at the 24 hour mark and noted she was #1 on the list. The list pretty much remained 8/6/6 right up until the flight departure time approached. Sure enough, around ten minutes before departure, the pda shows she's in 2B.

The door was shut, and my wife and I were waiting for the plane to depart the gate before going to our car. The Nervous Parent Gene lead me to ask the gate agent something along the lines of "Just curious, did the last minute upgrade for my daughter go okay?"

The two agents stopped, looked at each other, and immediately scrambled down the jetway to the plane. They were gone maybe five minutes before coming back to the desk at which point they both furiously typed away AND talked on the phone at the same time.

So, this time I asked, "Is there a problem with my daughter's upgrade - the one shown here on the Continental pda site?" as I held up "CAR, M. 2B" in front of them.

Then, I first heard the phrase that would dominate the next hour's discussion..."Someone told me she used points." This from the GA who seemed to have initiated the shenanigans. After maybe 20 minutes of back and forth (due to an obvious discomfort on both their parts,) I finally gleaned what she was trying to get me to believe: "Someone" told her my daughter was travelling on a reward ticket and therefore she should NOT be upgradeable. She, the GA, should ignore all information on the screen in front of her, all protocol, training, system architecture, and whatever else. "Someone" told her my daughter used points...

I insisted on speaking with a Red Coat. After almost a 20 minute wait, he showed up with a printout showing me he had upgraded my daughter on her return from EWR. Told him I didn't want that because my wife and oldest were going to meet the youngest in NYC at the end of her conference and would all be sitting together in the back on that flight. (Yes, her conference began in DC and ends in NYC.) Much more importantly, I demanded to know what happened to the outbound. I stood there incredulously as he spent the next ten to fifteen minutes on variations of "Someone told her she used points."

It was an H fare waitlisted with 15k miles! He admitted that all systems, lists, records, whatever reflected that fact, but that the GA somehow felt entitled to ignore it because of something she heard.

He asked us to wait and excused himself. He showed up fifteen minutes later with a printout showing the wife and both daughters upgraded on EWR return in a couple of weeks. A BIG gesture, to be sure. I, like most of you here, know the value of an EWR/IAH upgrade - let alone 3. So I am more than happy for my family to have that pleasure.

And, I told him that. But, while he wants to chalk it up as a learning experience (a "teachable moment" he called it), I want it to at least be looked at through my eyes.

While I could be way off, my view is that whomever was processing upgrades saw a non-status name heading the list and further saw that non-status flyer appeared to be a teenaged girl flying alone. She assumed my daughter would never know the difference.

The shock in those GA's eyes when I first approached them was palpable.

I intend to share with Scott. This should NEVER happen, but it does too often.

I am most pissed that she will never have a "first flight alone" again and a special experience was stolen from her.

Last edited by glcarter; Jun 14, 10 at 3:14 pm.
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Old Jun 14, 10, 2:46 pm   #2
 
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Let us know how this all ends. Hope CO Insider has time to look it over.
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Old Jun 14, 10, 2:49 pm   #3
 
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Originally Posted by glcarter View Post
This should NEVER happen, but it does too often.

EXACTLY. Maybe its time to start FIRING these bad apples, to set an example??? This has NEVER happened on UA to me, but has on CO.
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Old Jun 14, 10, 2:53 pm   #4
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Maybe I missed it, but how did the OP get behind security to wait with his daughter?
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Old Jun 14, 10, 2:56 pm   #5
 
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Originally Posted by JFKSFOLAX_friend View Post
Maybe I missed it, but how did the OP get behind security to wait with his daughter?
IAH tends to let parents through to see the child to the gate. I suppose it depends on who you talk to at the airport though, not sure if it’s a hard-and-fast rule. But I know it’s doable from experience.
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Old Jun 14, 10, 2:58 pm   #6
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Great story...definitely share it with Scott. He will ensure the "teachable moment" takes place.

The part that's not mentioned is who got the seat? If your daughter was on record as having flown in F, and she didn't, well, then the seat went to someone else. Non-rev? Friend? Next Elite?
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Old Jun 14, 10, 2:58 pm   #7
 
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Originally Posted by JFKSFOLAX_friend View Post
Maybe I missed it, but how did the OP get behind security to wait with his daughter?
I had the same exact thought. Would love to know the answer.
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Old Jun 14, 10, 2:58 pm   #8
 
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Special passes processed by Red Coat at Check in Counter

Quote:
Originally Posted by IAHRyan View Post
IAH tends to let parents through to see the child to the gate. I suppose it depends on who you talk to at the airport though, not sure if itís a hard-and-fast rule. But I know itís doable.
Showed ID.
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Old Jun 14, 10, 2:59 pm   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JFKSFOLAX_friend View Post
Maybe I missed it, but how did the OP get behind security to wait with his daughter?
Also a PC member can request gate passes as well.

Sorry to hear about the situation with your daughter - hopefully CO can get this stuff figured out.
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Old Jun 14, 10, 3:03 pm   #10
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hopefully CO can get this stuff figured out.

Heh, it's been going on for years, well before the PDA site. I think it's ingrained in the culture, so this is gonna be a tough one to tackle (if they're so inclined).

Sorry for these agents, but if CO wants to solve this, they should strongly discipline the two agents involved here, and strategically leak the story. The story would make its way through the grapevine, and others would hear about it.
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Old Jun 14, 10, 3:04 pm   #11
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Yeah, I'd also love to know who got the seat....and why was the PDA site wrong? Why would PDA say one thing but reality was different. How does that happen?
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Old Jun 14, 10, 3:12 pm   #12
 
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Originally Posted by JFKSFOLAX_friend View Post
Yeah, I'd also love to know who got the seat....and why was the PDA site wrong? Why would PDA say one thing but reality was different. How does that happen?
1. GA processes upgrades per the rules.
2. GA does not tell upgraded passenger he/she's been upgraded.
3. GA tells friend, co-worker, etc. to sit in the F seat.
4. Things look kosher because the right person was upgraded.

Note: Although this did happen to me once (and Scott and his team handled it very well!), I do believe this is rare. There have been many instances where I've gotten the beep/new boarding pass as I'm boarding, or I get called to the front of the plane just prior to pushback. The vast majority of GAs do their job well; GAs like this one, of course, need some "teachable moments".
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Old Jun 14, 10, 3:30 pm   #13
 
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Originally Posted by glcarter View Post
...flying to DCA (CO 358) yesterday...the pda shows she's in 2B....I held up "CAR, M. 2B"...
Just FYI, that's not what the website says happened on 358 yesterday. It's got someone else in 2B, and CAR, M. not on the list of upgraded passengers.

If it was shenanigans, I wonder if someone went and changed it. Or maybe it was changed (appropriately) to reflect what actually happened.
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Old Jun 14, 10, 3:34 pm   #14
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Originally Posted by cjgibson View Post
Note: Although this did happen to me once (and Scott and his team handled it very well!), I do believe this is rare. There have been many instances where I've gotten the beep/new boarding pass as I'm boarding, or I get called to the front of the plane just prior to pushback. The vast majority of GAs do their job well; GAs like this one, of course, need some "teachable moments".
I'm not sure what the definition of rare is, but the fact that we're able to catch it, and catch it repeatedly, for several years, I'd say it's way too frequent.

If just one agent works say 5 flights in a shift, five days a week, and mishandles an average of one upgrade per flight, that's well over 1,000 upgrades a year that are mishandled. Now say 50 of CO's "most professional men and women in the industry" are doing this, and that's 50,000 upgrades a year that are mishandled.

I've been the victim of it at least twice, and witnessed it happen a handful more times, and there are countless other stories (though this is one of the better ones where they were caught, confronted, and forced to explain after the fact).
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Old Jun 14, 10, 3:34 pm   #15
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Originally Posted by tvetter01 View Post
Just FYI, that's not what the website says happened on 358 yesterday. It's got someone else in 2B, and CAR, M. not on the list of upgraded passengers.

If it was shenanigans, I wonder if someone went and changed it. Or maybe it was changed (appropriately) to reflect what actually happened.

Or perhaps changed as soon as the GA's were confronted.
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