DO THE BUMP
My twelve year old daughter and I flew to Paris for Spring Break in 2004. Her French teacher takes a group of seventh and eighth grade French students on trips to different parts of France every other year, and we decided that it would be a great father/daughter trip. Since we planned to extend our trip beyond the ten days that everyone else was taking, we were put on a different outbound flight from the rest of the group.
When Rachel and I arrived at the Portland, Oregon airport, we were told that the flight was full and we were asked if we would like to get bumped in exchange for $800 in Lufthansa vouchers for each of us. I immediately said that I wanted to get bumped since we had extended our trip anyway and I was in no hurry to catch up with twenty teenagers, but Rachel was reluctant. After explaining to her that we would be able to return to Europe because of our bump vouchers, she agreed to my plan. We spent a fun night at the Embassy Suites near the airport and she dined on filet mignon for the first time in her life.
The next day, we took the shuttle to the airport and waited in line to check in. When we got to the desk, we were told that the flight was once again overbooked and we were again offered vouchers if we volunteered to get bumped. This time, however, Rachel was adamant about catching up with her friends. She told me that she felt comfortable flying alone and she did not mind if I delayed my flight another day in order to get the voucher. Fortunately, as we were discussing what we would do, a former soccer coach of my daughter's was checking in at the adjacent desk, and I asked him if he wouldn't mind keeping an eye on Rachel and made sure that she caught the right connecting flight from Frankfurt to Paris, where she would be met by a representative of the tour group.
I took a shuttle into Portland for the rest of the day, returned to my hotel, then went to the airport the next day. Unfortunately, there were seats available on the flight when I checked in, so I flew from Portland to Frankfurt and then Frankfurt to Paris. I immediately boarded a train into town and purchased a train ticket to Anguleme, in the south of France, where I would catch up with the group. The train ride was about three hours long and left me nowhere near the hotel where the group was staying, so I took a taxi to the hotel. I walked into the hotel utterly exhausted after spending so long in transport and heard a lot of noise coming from downstairs. Assuming that this must be my daughter's group, I walked down the stairs to the restaurant and was loudly greeted with cheers and applause.
I guess the moral of the story is that if you're not in a hurry to arrive at your destination, take advantage of the airline's generosity and get bumped. I spent the next two weeks traveling with my daugher around France and Spain with $2400 in Lufthansa vouchers in my pocket. I used the vouchers to take another great trip, but I'll save that for another blog.