My last day of work was Friday, October 31, 2014, and I was scheduled to board United Airlines #915 IAD-CDG two days later. I prefer to board the airplane as late as possible. After all, I would be on the plane for 7 hours and 35 minutes.
I was in boarding Group 2, but Group 5 was being called when I noticed the gate agent announcing a request for volunteers. Apparently, Ozzy started the bidding at $700 flight credit and not one of the 183 passengers budged. I had never accepted one of these requests previously, usually because my itinerary did not allow for much flexibility and the amount was approximately $150. Quitting one’s job presents much flexibility for situations like this potential delay.
When the offer got up to $1000, it seemed too good to be true. By this point, most of the plane had boarded. It bears repeating that I would not have been aware of this offer if I had taken my assigned seat 32A immediately. Only a few more minutes passed before Ozzy juiced the offer to $1200. I went up to the desk and asked several questions regarding the offer. An elderly French couple went up inquiring about the offer, and I suddenly realized I had competition. However, the French wife was not interested, and the couple duly boarded the aircraft.
The end result of my acceptance of the offer is:
- An arrival time 26 hours and 45 minutes later than originally booked
- $1200 flight credit to use on United flights (not valid for food or baggage charges, expiration 1 year from issue)
- A night at Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport. I am routing through ORD instead of my original nonstop flight. [Note: the retail value of the hotel night for my specific date is $348, but United Airlines’ contracted agreement with this Hilton hotel pays it a pre-negotiated rate of less than $100.]
- A seat upgrade the entire way (retail value: $200-$300)
- $21 in vouchers to be used at any airport food vendor (expiration 24 hours from issue). I ultimately spent these at Johnny Rockets (double bacon cheeseburger and cheese fries) and Starbucks (tall caramel Frappuccino and double chocolate chip cookie).
- The beauty is that my flight from ORD departs after sunset, so I am effectively trading a day in Paris for a day in Chicago, which any reasonable human would do for $1200+.
Originally, I booked this flight using 30,000 United MileagePlus points + $5.60 in fees. Pretty good parlay!
Since my new flight was now five hours away, I took the tram to Terminal B to access the Lufthansa Senator Lounge within IAD. Lufthansa is a member of Star Alliance, and all participant lounges are accessible for free with Star Alliance Gold status.