Watching stellar United Airlines gate agents in action last night

As I tweeted yesterday, I took a voluntary denied boarding (VDB) off my flight back to LAX last night and earned a $400 travel credit for future use, plus the obligatory hotel and meal voucher. I was dead tired from all my traveling around Europe for a couple of days, and ended up getting a solid 12-hours of sleep last night.

Before taking the bump yesterday, I wandered over to an earlier LAX flight to case how that flight was looking in terms of open seats. The helpful monitors told the story that the flight was oversold, in need of volunteers, and had a lengthy standby list. The gate area was crowded and the agents working the flight were fielding all sorts of questions, complaints, and a couple of irate passengers. I hung around and observed on agent in particular, as I was incredibly impressed with the way she handled everything coming at her. With incredible professionalism, poise and sincere concern, she maintained total control of a chaotic gate area and diffused angry rants without breaking a sweat. She was doing her job, yes, but given my voluminous amount of flying, I rarely see such a “perfect†gate agent as what I witnessed yesterday. After the flight left and her line went down, I handed her a Going The Extra Mile (GTEM) appreciation certificate they mail to all elite members to recognize superior service. She was so pleased, and it made my day to watch her stellar skills in action.

Then it was off to my flight. As equally deserving of a GTEM was the main agent working my flight. I had actually boarded and took my seat after she said they wouldn’t need it, but as luck would have it she came on during the last seconds and asked if I was still willing (absolutely!), so I grabbed my things and headed to the gate area. She, too, had a couple of irate people who she handled on the spot, and I sat patiently knowing I had a good night’s sleep with my name on it quickly approaching. Watching her work was also impressive, and having first-hand knowledge of United’s systems, I know she was diligently finding the best available options for those passengers. When it came time to work on my rerouting, I offered up several options to check availability and we both looked together at what I eventually agreed to. I ran out of GTEMs, so will be absolutely certain to write United an email when I get home.

So, as the year closes today and I have my final United Airlines flights of 2010, I wish you all a Happy New Year’s Eve & I look forward to 2011 and starting the race to 1K status all over again. For posterity, here a screenshot of my almost final United elite qualifying miles and segments this year:

a screenshot of a graph


  1. Congrats on the bump!

    I just changed the return routing on my award trip from FRA-ORD-PHX-LAX (domestic flights on US) to FRA-JFK-LAX primarily for the chance to try for a bump (p.s. first isn’t so bad either…).

    Happy New Year.

  2. Thanks & good luck on your potential bump, Matthew. If not, you’ll have the best domestic First Class experience on United!

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