I’m just getting settled in after yet another amazing frequent-flyer-filled weekend at Frequent Traveler University in Los Angeles. I apologize for the delay in posting the winners from the blog’s anniversary giveaway post (it’s for a good reason, I swear!), but plans coming home changed [for the better] as I was able to experience my very first voluntary bump with United Airlines! In this post you’ll find a short recap about FTU, details of my bump experience, and most importantly, the giveaway winners are announced below as well. Enjoy!
A Fun Weekend at FTU at LAX
This past Friday-Sunday, over 400 travel-obsessed people of varying levels of “expertise” gathered together at the Sheraton Gateway hotel at LAX for a fun weekend of seminars, presentations, and mingling. My favorite part of these types of events is the social component; there’s nothing better than talking face-to-face with people who are equally as passionate about points and miles as you are. It’s most definitely refreshing to feel “normal” for once.
Getting there, I was able to book an excellent $232 round trip fare from JFK-LAX on United’s p.s. transcontinental route, and what’s even better was that the aircraft was one of the very few planes in United’s fleet that’s equipped with Gogo inflight wifi, thus making the flight “fly by” (yes, pun).
While in flight, I was chatting with the infamous George (@FlyerTalkerinA2 and writer of Travel Blogger Buzz). We arranged to have lunch together at the Fairmont Santa Monica before heading over to the MilePoint holiday happy hour later that evening. George picked me up at the airport, and we enjoyed a delicious full lunch and spent hours talking about all things points and miles related… and… of course, his favorite topic… yes, you guessed it – affiliate links; it was a blast.
After lunch, I checked into my room at the nearby Four Points by Sheraton LAX where I met up with Parag (Frequent Flyer University). Parag and I had a quick cocktail at the lobby bar, and then we walked on over to the Sheraton for the FTU weekend kick-off. It was a lot of fun mingling that evening, putting faces to readers, bloggers, and twitter handles. Afterwards, some of us hit the town and continued the evening at a hip burger joint/bar, Father’s Office, in nearby Culver City.
On Saturday, after a full day of seminars, a small group of us headed back to Santa Monica for dinner at a beach-front restaurant inside the Shutters on the Beach. It was a pricier evening to say the least, but the views of the ocean and the Santa Monica pier were breathless.
My flight back to the east coast was scheduled to leave at 1:39 on Sunday, but since I was having so much fun, I was secretly hoping that there’d be a way for me to stay a little longer. The good news was, Scott (Hack My Trip) loaded up ExpertFlyer and told me that my flight home was completely sold out, making my chances of an voluntary bump extremely probable.
My First “Bump” Experience
Hearing that news excited me. I’ve never been “bumped” before, and all of the puzzle pieces in this scenario seemed to be fitting together so perfectly – oversold flight, no checked luggage, and a burning desire to stay in Los Angeles just a tad longer. Of course, the visions of hundreds of dollars in United credit made my heart flutter a bit too, but that’s a whole different story.
I knew my chances of getting bumped were high, so I immediately zipped myself to LAX and rushed to the gate. Before even sitting down, I approached the podium and told the gate agent that I was aware that this flight might be oversold, and that I was willing to volunteer my seat if needed. She held onto my boarding pass and asked me which flight home I’d prefer. I responded by telling her that the 10:39 pm red-eye sounded lovely, and she immediately booked me a seat on that flight “just in case”. Things were looking good.
Five minutes passed by, and I heard my name being paged on the intercom. Turns out that they did need my seat (hmm, didn’t see that one coming). I was offered a $300 United voucher, and I was rebooked in business class on the p.s. transcontinental. In conclusion, I returned back to FTU in less than an hour and was able to secure a seat on the flight I had been eying the whole time… and get paid to do so. Mission accomplished.
After the FTU program concluded, a few of us stuck around for a few rounds of drinks at the lobby bar, and then a dozen of us headed down into Koreatown for a fun and delicious all-you-can eat Korean BBQ dinner. After a fun evening, I headed back to the airport and boarded my flight. I fell asleep before the cabin door closed and I woke up in NY thanks to the super-comfortable/deep-recline business class seats on UA912 (yes, there was even a foot rest, so it felt like I was snuggling up in a comfy living room recliner chair). The only downside was because I slept like a baby during the entire flight, I missed out on the p.s. meal and beverage experience (#firstworldproblems?); however, waking up to a bottle of Dasani water was the perfect way to end the flight.
Giveaway Winners Announced
And for the moment you’ve all been waiting for: here’s the list of the lucky winners from my 1-year blog anniversary post…
- SMD4 Swag: comment #82, Sheila
- 2 United Club Passes (donated by reader, Lisa T): comment #32, Pat
- Cathay Pacific Pilot Teddy Bear: #23, Colleeen
- 6-month Upgrade to AwardWallet.com: comment #126, Kodoma
- 6-month Upgrade to AwardWallet.com: comment #3, Srini
- 5,000 Club Carlson Points: comment #46, Santastico