Monday, October 29, 2012

Standby

About twenty years ago I learned about "bumping" on airlines, or at least thought I did. I remember hearing that all you had to do to get a free flight was ask to be "bumped", or placed on the next flight. This was the airline's way of fixing overbooked flights. To me it seemed like a big secret for the seasoned flyer, and I was flying pretty much every year to Florida, which, at the time seemed adequate for entry into the club.

Even if that was how "getting bumped" worked, my parents never seemed too keen on it. That always confused me, but after a recent travel experience to the Netherlands I have a greater understanding for my parent's desire to stick to the schedule.

"Buddy passes!" my friend said to me, "400 dollars and you can fly to Amsterdam for a three day weekend".

Sign me up.

While I already rely on Google too much, in hindsight this would have been a good time to review the too-good-to-be-true nature of a 400 dollar round trip transatlantic flight. Now I know.  And if you didn't before, now YOU do.

It wasn't even the not being able to get on the plane I thought I had booked to fly from DTW to AMS thing. It was the fact that, coming back, I wasn't able to get on the flight I had originally booked coming back (AMS-DTW), or the next one for that matter.  Specifically, it was the fact that, no matter what I did, I was never going to be guaranteed a ticket. While this makes for a minor inconvenience, say, coming back from St. Louis. When "trapped" on the other side of the ocean, only mostly joking about whether or not you'll need to start looking for work, it makes for an unsettling time.

In the end it all worked out, and thanks to a nice Delta lady in Amsterdam I was able to get back to Detroit (via Boston) only 7 or so hours later that originally planned. So while I've somewhat soured on the buddy passes for short term international travel, I was able to enjoy a nice few days in the Netherlands seeing Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and a few places in between.   Here's a look at the town of Barendrecht where I stayed for a night with a friend.  Note the iPhone 5 purple lens flare.

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