I am writing from beautiful San Diego right now, as blogger in residence with Train Wreck Trader. I am fortunate in being able to secure some no cost TAD to attend his course in Balboa. I went with no cost TAD since I am able to get my own flights on gift cards, the course was free, and lodging paid for in beer and friendship. I am a long term planner, and booked this flight 5 months ago on Sept of 2017 and saw I was able to get the cheapest round trip flight at terrible hours for $216.40! I used two $100 AA gift cards and $16.40 charged to my BarclayCard AAdvantage Silver Aviator card to get this flight. The Gift Cards came from the AmEx Platinum annual $200 reimbursement.
When you book a trip so far in advanced you are sure to experience schedule changes. Since September, the overnight flight at 10:50 pm has been canceled. I was then put on the same day earlier flight at no additional cost in November of 2017.
I always check in to my flight 24 hours before departure, and was given the option to be on stand by for an earlier flight which would get me to sunny SAN to watch the sunset at the beach.
The website asked for $75 just for the privilege of getting one of the empty seats on the 10:20 or 13:20 flight. However when we go to the American Airlines website we can find that this $75 fee is waived for military members traveling on orders or on leave. Now I could not find a way to get the fee waiver using the website. I guess I could of just paid it, and request a refund by submitting my travel orders I got from DTS:
I make it personal policy to always have travel orders in hand during travel just in case something goes down. When you travel in Japan you will need a hard copy of these to get back in the country under SOFA status. Plus some lounges like United Club require seeing these for access. On TAD travel, bring your orders, on leave bring your orders from NSIPS for stuff like this.
I checked into my flight and was able to get my boarding pass for my 17:15 flight with a seat assignment. Since I intended to take a different flight, I packed planning on NOT checking luggage. This way I could ensure my luggage ended up on the same flight I was going to end up on. I got to ORD at 0800 for my 17:15 flight and went right to the staffed counter. I showed my orders, CAC, and my boarding pass and asked nicely if I could standby on the 10:20 flight.
This is when things got a little hairy…
The first customer service rep said it would be $75 because I had no status with American Airlines. I insisted in a very friendly way that the fee was to be waived for military traveling on orders. She was very nice and called in a manager, who called another manager, who checked the website, and sure enough they honored the fee waiver. The key is to not be a dick during this whole process. Many of the customer service reps don’t know all of the policies regarding military fee waivers, and I guess not too many people come to the airport some 9 hours before their flight to stand by on a different flight.
Once she got the okay form the higher ups I was put on the standby list without any problems. She gave me a standby ticket for the 10:30 flight and told me there was only one seat left and I was the only one on the standby list. Sounds good, but there was no promise that I would get the seat assignment, anyone with any status would get that seat before me!
I went through security with the standby ticket and got into the American Airlines Admirals lounge with that unconfirmed ticket ticket and my CAC alone. When I got to the gate I was told the same thing, there was one seat and I was the one on standby, but if anyone with any status wanted that seat I would be bumped off the plane David Dao style.I was sked to wait untill the seats were all assigned.
About 15 minutes later, they cleared me and called me to the counter to trade my voucher for a seat assigned boarding pass during the time when group 3 was boarding with the same caveat, and the staff had me gate check my bag because the plane would be super full. I boarded the plane I sat in my seat waiting for them to kick me off at any time, it wasn’t until the door closed that I found relief that I was able to get to SAN a good 7 hours earlier than planned to catch the sunset:
If you have a late flight on a travel day it may be worth it to look into stand by for an earlier flight. Always bring your orders and be prepared to not check luggage to ensure maximum flexibility! I may have been incredibly lucky in this case, but even if I could not of gotten this first flight the 13:20 flight would of been nicer than taking the last flight of the day.