'The Hope Seat' and other special UA traveler stories
Originally Posted by stimpy
Butt In Seat. So yes, actual flight miles on UA owned and operated aircraft. And good for you, enjoying travel and all!
Sorry, but if I always have a fat guy put next to me, why should you get the lovely lady? If I find out that you got a cute interesting woman put next to you, I shall write a very angry letter to the CEO of United. Hmmm, come to think of it, that sums up several hundred posts in this thread. The CO people are getting sat next to an attractive woman with a fun personality. And the UA people are getting the fat guy. The only thing is frequent flyers should realize that they can get up and move if it really ruins their day. And adults realize they should just relax and deal with it. There are other problems in life.
True story: On my last SFO to MSP flight a couple weeks ago, I boarded fairly early near the front end of Silver, and found myself being pushed (literally) by some very aggressive passenger all the way down the jetway, and again as I boarded the plane. She kept bumping into me, banging her large (way too large to be legal) carry on into my leg, stepping on the heel of my shoe, and so on. She was still banging into me as I approached my E+ seat 10A, so as I hurried to put my own bag in the overhead, it was all I could do to not get trampled.
I looked down and saw that a beautiful woman was already occupying the middle seat. (seriously? finally?) I apologized as she stepped out to let me in. We traded a few funny comments about the aggressive passenger who had been a giant hurry to get to her seat in the very back of the bus on the fully booked flight.
After a couple minutes of pleasant exchanges, our isle seat mate arrived, and (are you kidding me?!?) she too was very pretty with a terrific smile! I recall thinking "This may be the best flight ever!" as all three of us instantly bonded with friendly banter.
A few minutes later a tiny woman was trying (unsuccessfully) to lift her bag into the overhead bin directly across from us. I was reflecting that if I was in the isle, I would have easily been able to step up and assist her. Right at that moment, I noticed the row numbers directly across from us: 11 D/E/F
Talk about a giant FAIL on my part! I was so distracted by the aggressive passenger behind me, that my brain must have just assumed I was in heaven (row 10). I screwed an embarrassed smile on my face and moved up a row. One minute later the passenger in 10B arrived. You guessed it: the now standard 310 lb former offensive lineman. <sigh>
I may never get the MM status, but please (just once) let me at least get seated next to Ms. 11B & C! LOL
The 'hope seat' - being 1K MM - and why I am grateful to UA
This MMer benefits thread has started talking about the seat next to you, which is my excuse, but the story I am about to tell really demonstrates - and I look forward to any comments from other MMers - 1) how important differentiated treatment of elites (and MMers specifically) by UA can be in unusual circumstances, 2) how much that very personal interaction seems to have diminished in just a few years (based on how 'from another time' this story may sound in 2011), and 3) how loyalty-producing that special service can be, as we worry that it may not continue with CO/UA.
OK, since folk are telling tales of what I've heard referred to as the 'hope seat' - who will be seated next to you - here is my story of past treatment of a 1K MMer and why I am grateful to UA.
I have missed four flights in about 5,000 segments of frequent flying. One of them was in late 2004.
I was flying economy from London to Chicago, and arrived at Heathrow T3 too late. At check-in they went to work and said, "You've missed our last direct flight to O'Hare, but we can get you there via Washington. There's just one hitch - we only have a middle seat in the last row." I took it.
When I got to the boarding gate, I said nothing but was pleasantly greeted by the agent who told me, "Oh, Mr. GBman, you fly with us much too often for that seat; let me see what I can do." She scratched out the old seat and wrote in '22H' on the boarding pass stub. I thanked her and proceeded to board.
In those days of course the 777 was configured 2-5-2, and as I moved down the aisle I noticed a very beautiful woman seated in 22J. Unfortunately, the moment I sat down, she took one look at me, proceeded to put her iPod earbuds in her ears and went back to reading her magazine.
Silence through the meal. (The earbuds.) The purser came back and stopped at our row and exchanged a few words with me in French, thanking me for flying UA. The earbuds came off long enough for Ms. 22J to ask me, "Was something wrong?" I said, no, that I fly a great deal and United is just very courteous to me. The earbuds went back in.
The purser came back after a movie. The earbuds were briefly removed. The purser asked me if I would like a glass of champagne from First. I didn't want to drink on the plane and said that that was very kind, but no thank you. Ms. 22J immediately offered, "I'd love one." The purser, assuming we were together, smiled and went off to produce the glass of champagne, which duly arrived as the earbuds went back in. I silently fumed that Ms. 22J was drinking "my" champagne without offering me a mere thank you.
Happily, Steve Jobs made lousy batteries, and the iPod's was no match for the length of the trans-Atlantic flight. It gave out, and the earbuds came off for good. Lacking any better move, I suavely offered Ms. 22J my backlog of FTs (Financial Times, not FlyerTalk) which I had worked my way through. She took them with a courteous thank you. Eventually, an hour or so out of Dulles, we made small talk, but with only tantalizing details of a very smart, very charming woman emerging, minus any identifying information. Hints got me nowhere toward name, workplace, any form of further contact.
As some will know, at Dulles, international flights deplane in two different customs halls - one mid-field for those connecting onward, and one at the main terminal for those staying in Washington. As we emerged from the plane, no further contact knowledge in hand, I lied.
Ms. 22J went on the staying-in-Washington transport buggy, and so did I. My bags of course went off to the mid-field customs hall to await me and my connection to O'Hare.
At the main terminal baggage carousel, Ms. 22J's bags arrived swiftly. Mine of course did not. She waited long enough for me to mumble that mine must be lost and I would have to report that to the United desk. And then - then! - she offered her telephone number and said she'd enjoy talking again.
She departed. I sheepishly went to the United desk and confessed I was in the wrong hall. (And two-plus hours later was reunited with my checked bag.)
At our wedding, I held up the UA boarding pass with the handwritten '22H' and told our friends and families how grateful I was to United.
We celebrate the seventh anniversary of our on-board meeting on November 21st and our fifth wedding anniversary in April.
Location: Southern California, GVA, SIN, LHR, BRU, CDG
Programs: UA LT GS 4.08MM (4.03MM BIS), AA EXP 1.82MM ,DL DM .80MM, HH Diamond, SPG Platinum
Originally Posted by MPsince1984
Despite the last response post (sounds a bit like the sour gate agent I ran into at ORD) that's exactly the kind of post that makes FT interesting enough for me to invest my time and energy into this web site, regardless of which wrong category it might be posted in.
Serious congratulations to you two!
Apologies to the rest of you for my own inappropriate contributions of the same nature.
Agree!! Congrats to both of you.
Last edited by l'etoile; Nov 8, 11 at 12:20 am.
Reason: removed comments no longer relevant since now a thread of its own
I boarded relatively early for the 8am SFO - EWR, and then saw this gorgeous woman walking down the aisle towards my row and the empty seat next to me. But no such luck, she sat in the aisle seat directly in front of me, not the middle next to me.
I started working on my notebook PC and asked her politely not to recline her seat without warning me, so I could move my PC. Also was able to return her pen a couple of times, as she kept dropping it under her seat.
When the movie ended, we both had to stand up to let those inside of us get out and back to the bathroom (single aisle 757). I started talking to her, and managed to acquire her name and business card before the other folks came back and we sat down again.
That night, the colleague I was traveling with had to listen to me rave about the incredible woman I met on the plane for about 2 hours as we ate dinner.
We went out for the first time about a week later after we were both back in San Francisco, and got married 18 months later. That was 12 years ago, and we are taking our next United flight with our kids next week (but to Lihue instead of Newark, a definite upgrade).
To this day, my colleague from that business trip refers to my wife as "plane girl".
Location: What I write is my opinion alone..don't read into it anything not written.
Co-worker/friend (UA CSR) flying NRSA was asked on a relativly empty flight which of the remaining seats he would like. He pointed to a girl in the gate room (she turned out to be a UA flight attendant not in uniform also flying NRSA) and said "I wanna sit next to HER!!"
They were married about a year later...and 3 years after that, had one of the nastiest divorces I have seen. One of the few good things about it is I became friends with her thru him, and she still remains a friend of mine (and he does as well) so I was the collateral beneficiary of their "unhapily ever after" by becoing close with both of them. Separatly, they are great people, but together, they have very conflicting values.
Glad that some of you have found lasting love on our planes and hope none of you wind up like my friends.