Madrid, by the hairs of my chin

Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Spain  , Madrid,
Thursday, December 30, 2010

I don't fly standby all the time – a few years ago, my family realized that the likelihood of not getting on flights was ever increasing and that the perk of flying free was no longer as exciting as it once was. At the same time, though, the likelihood of all four of us being able to vacation at the same time was decreasing, so I guess the forces were working in tandem. Anyway, all that was to say that I usually only fly standby if I’m going somewhere by myself, and even then, I make sure to calculate it out so I have the best chance of getting on my first choice flights, and to my destination in the shortest time possible.

This trip was a little different. I have been planning to go back and visit my host family in Sevilla for a long time – since October 27, as a matter of fact. That’s when I bought the ticket from Madrid to Sevilla, which is the only leg of the trip that I bought a ticket for last year when I went, too. I figured, Atlanta to Madrid, no problem. Last year when I went I practically had the entire business class cabin to myself; there was no one on the flight. Well, as I’m sure many of you are aware, blizzards hit the east coast this past weekend and shook up almost everything. When I looked at the ATL-MAD flight on Saturday, there were 40 open seats; on Sunday, it was overbooked by 5. Monday, by 20, and Tuesday night, by 35. No nonrevenue standby passenger (in their right mind) would try to make a flight that was overbooked by that many, but I had two options: fly from Phoenix to Atlanta and go to Madrid, or go from Atlanta back to Fort Wayne, where I would stay at home by myself for a week and a half before going back to school. I did have a backup – a flight to Fort Wayne leaving 25 minutes after the scheduled departure for Madrid at 6:50 – but I wouldn’t know until the last minute. Since the majority of the passengers who constituted the revenue standby list (and thus caused the overbooking) were those who had to be re-routed because of the storm, many found alternate travel plans and the standby list actually decreased throughout the day. It was still going to be close, though.

At one point, they announced that the flight was in an oversold position, and my heart sank. I was surprised, because I had been thinking that I wouldn’t mind being back in Fort Wayne (but that always happens before a big trip for me, I get nervous and try to think of reasons not to go – I have no idea why). I just about lost it in the gate area and had to hold back my tears. However, I had spoken to an extremely helpful gate agent (isn’t that an oxymoron?) earlier who had promised to call me with the outlook for the flight – basically to tell me whether I should get a head start on the trek to the gate for the FWA flight or not. She called me about an hour before takeoff, and said it was looking good. Two calls later, at 6:30, she was pretty sure I was getting on. Finally, at 6:43, I boarded for the 6:50 flight. One other nonrevenue standby passenger got on – actually, two did, and one had to get off because they didn’t close the door fast enough and another paying passenger showed up! How awful is that.

Well, now I sit in Madrid waiting for my flight to Sevilla, and I have no idea if I’m being picked up or if I have to take the bus, or what’s going on. But that’s completely Spanish and I wouldn’t have it any other way. All I know is I want some sopa de tomate, Cruzcampo, and a siesta.
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