Last month, I visited my oldest friend in gorgeous Monterey, California. No, my friend isn’t that old. It’s a longtime friendship — since 8th grade, in fact!
Knowing that I had an open invitation to visit, I booked my flight in July for a trip in October. I found a great price and jumped on it.
I thought everything was perfectly arranged until the day before my flight. I checked-in online and discovered that my window seat was no longer a window seat!
Flying across the country is a decently long flight. After our 30/40 World Tour, I realize it’s not going to win any longest flight contests. But it’s still nice to have a wall (or Mr. HalfEmpty’s shoulder) for my pillow.
I rechecked my original reservation and noticed that my seat number had not changed. I was still in 23F. What had changed was the plane. There must have been so much demand that they switched from a Boeing 757 with 6 seats across (3-3) to an international Boeing 777 with 9 seats across (2-5-2).
I’m sure the UC Santa Barbara Cross Country Team on my flight helped secure that bigger plane. Grr…college kids! Now I sound like a crotchety, old, half empty woman. Yep, that’s about right. =)
During online check-in, I noticed that there were still a few window seats available. But they were all considered an upgrade despite being in the same section as my current seat! I decided not to panic and would request a seat change at the airport.
But at the airport, they told me the flight was full. So basically I got penalized with a middle seat in a block of 5 for booking early. This early bird did not get the worm! Lesson learned: if you want a window seat, always pick A.
I’m really surprised I didn’t learn that lesson on the 30/40 World Tour with all our flights, some booked 6 months in advance. But perhaps our exotic locales don’t have the same kind of demand as DC to CA.
When I boarded the plane, it seemed like the situation might be okay. In my center section of 5 seats, only 4 were occupied — a Chinese guy in the aisle seat, a big guy in the 2nd seat, me in the 4th seat, and a woman on the other aisle. I had an empty seat next to me, but I didn’t assume it would be there for long. At some point, the Chinese man on the aisle realized that he was in the wrong seat. So he moved into the center seat on my left. This prompted the big guy to move into the aisle.
Now I was sandwiched in a middle seat. It was the worst possible configuration for me. I didn’t understand why the Chinese guy didn’t move back into the other guy’s seat so that the center seat would be free. That would have given us both an empty seat on one side. But now the big guy, who originally had a middle seat, had an aisle AND a free seat next to him! I got a raw deal.
I was even more irritated when the Chinese guy kept using my arm rest. At one point, I erected a pillow barrier in retaliation, but he didn’t seem to notice. The best scenario for my already unfortunate middle seat went to the worst scenario rather quickly. I was doubly mad because I had been counting on my window seat.
During my stay in California, my credit card number was compromised and used in Chicago. I’m still not sure which restaurant did that to me, but I have 2 in mind.
On the way home, my return flight was delayed over 2 hours due to fog. Since I knew about the delay, I went to the airport late. But I was worried the entire time that they might reduce the delay and I would miss my flight. I was also concerned about making my connecting flight after the delayed flight. If it had been on time, I surely would have missed it. But fortunately, it was also delayed.
My final flight was delayed so much that they changed the gate 3 times! After a while it got a bit comical watching a full flight of people migrate from one gate to another. The last 2 gates were actually in a different terminal, so that was a long hike. I wonder if anyone missed the flight because of the gate changes.
I finally arrived back in DC at 1:30 AM. Even though I had a carry-on sized bag, I had to check it since there was no overhead space left. So I had to wait for my suitcase, and then head home to catch a few hours of sleep before teaching my morning class.
After reading this post, you’re probably thinking that I had a horrible trip filled with uncomfortable flights, credit card fraud, and flight delays. But actually, the trip was amazing! Monterey is beautiful, and I soaked up the sun every day with my friend. How’s that for half full thinking?
Next time you book a flight, remember the moral of my story and pick A for a window seat. I’m not sure what to tell those of you who like aisle seats…perhaps, just good luck!
- Have you ever booked a specific seat on a flight and later found that the seat configuration changed? How did you react?
- Has your credit card been compromised? Did you or the credit card company discover it first?
- Have you ever had a flight delay change back to an earlier departure time?