Visa In Hand; Friday's DME Flight Oversold by 9

Trip Start Sep 24, 2010
Trip End Sep 28, 2010

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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I picked up my visa this morning from the Russian Embassy. Look -- my name is written in both English and Russian! Neat. My name is also strangely spelled at the bottom of the visa. Perplexing.

Now let's keep our fingers crossed that I can get on the flight Friday. If all goes well, I'll be in the air to Moscow in 43 hours!

I've been tracking the departed loads for United's IAD-DME flight for the past eight days. The flight has gone out full on two of those days (including Saturday, Sept. 18, when Mom said they had to take six involuntarily denied boardings because the flight was oversold and too many passengers showed up). There have been between 8 and 33 no-shows per day, with an average of 20 no-shows per flight.

Friday's flight is oversold by nine right now -- so the odds look good I will be able to get on board if there's an average of 20 no-shows in the past week. United is still offering 14 tickets for sale on Friday's flight to Moscow -- which means they will oversell it up to 23 seats. That's a 13% oversell ratio for the Boeing 767, which has to mean this Moscow flight consistently averages a good number of no-shows for whatever reason.

Too bad I wasn't flying out today. Mom reports the DME flight went out with four empty suites in First Class, one empty seat in Business Class, and 44 empty seats in Economy Class. Today's flight had been overbooked by eight. This means there were an astounding 57 no-shows today. This huge number was apparently due to thunderstorms along the East Coast that delayed many United Express flights into IAD, causing lots of Moscow passengers to miss their connection (the Moscow flight departed on time today).

So while it's always anxiety-inducing to see an international flight that you want to stand by for oversold, I'm trying not to be too nervous about my chances for Friday. If all else fails, I can still try to get to Moscow the following Friday, Oct. 1, since my visa is valid for two weeks.

My biggest concern right now is not whether I get on the flight Friday, but whether I can get a premium seat. There's one First Class Suite available and Business Class is booked full. If I get on the flight, it will most likely be in Economy Class. That would end my 23-month-long streak of getting premium seats on all of my standby long-haul international flights!

I'm trying to be optimistic and hoping that one open suite in First Class is waiting for me! :-)
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