Even if they could squeeze one more passenger on the plane, they’d probably charge me. The agent would have been well within her rights to do that, since I had a reservation on the next flight to Orlando, which left two hours later.
Then I remembered that a little niceness can take you a long way.
I smiled. I asked if it was a full flight.
“Completely,” the agent exhaled.
“How about the standby list?”
“Twenty four people,” she replied. “You’re not Executive Platinum, are you?”
“No,” I sighed. “Just haven’t seen my kids all weekend, and was hoping to get home a little early.”
She gave me a “there’s-no-hope” look. Which is when I decided to try a little humor.
“I’ll take the jumpseat,” I offered. “I’ll sit in the toilet. I’ll stand.”
“I’ll add you to the list,” she said. “But it doesn’t look good.”
I returned to the waiting area, more or less resigned to take my original flight.
But then I remembered: Gate agents have a lot of control over waiting lists. And, although passengers often forget it, airline employees are people too. So a personal connection with a gate agent — even a shared laugh — can make a difference.
And guess what? It did.
After general boarding ended, I watched the standby list scroll by on the monitors.
ELLI/C was number one on the screen. In other words, if there was a free seat on the plane, I would get it. And I did.
No change fee, either.
Some of you might be thinking to yourself: “She probably recognized him.” I don’t think so. These gate agents deal with thousands of people a day, and they don’t have to time to remember what a rogue travel writer looks like.
So here I am, at cruising altitude, thinking about how this could have possibly gone my way. My only explanation is that I was nice.
I didn’t demand a seat on the plane. Didn’t beg. Didn’t threaten. I just asked nicely, and I made it clear that I understood that I was entitled to nothing.
At a time like this, when terminals are full and tempers are frayed, a little nice can take you a long way.
Try it. You might be surprised.
(Photo credit: Mary-Lynn/Flickr)