I really try to avoid flying on Fridays. It’s busy. Flights are packed. Airports are packed. Everyone just wants to get home. Generally, I plan my days around sticking to the flights I have booked, but sometimes, things line up in a way that you need to change plans. While Delta’s more restrictive same day confirmed policy has generally turned out OK for me, yesterday was not one of those days. I started working the phone the evening before my flight – no can do. (Traveling on a V fare for the record.) Most of Friday morning, including an interaction with the @DeltaAssist folks – still nothing. The airport ticket counter would not even place my non-status colleague on the standby list for an earlier flight. I didn’t bother to ask, preferring to use the time to get a little work done, and I always have the option of trying in the Sky Club.

After a little random patdown love from my friends at TSA and lunch, I settled into the Sky Club, but quickly realized I had no interest in spending even a single extra hour away from home. I’d been traveling since the previous Friday morning and after an intense week of work that began with big weather delays and a post-midnight arrival to the hotel I did not love, I had officially hit the wall. I approached one of the very nice DCA Sky Club agents and asked about the possibility of same day confirmed. Of course, there was still no availability for that, but unlike my non-status friend at the ticket counter, she was happy to put me on standby. I generally don’t “standby.” I did enough of that during my airline days, but it was time to go. I was number 2 on the list with 5 showing open. (Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

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By the time I arrived at the gate, I was number 4 on the list with 5 open, solidly center seat territory for sure. 🙂 By the time Sky Priority customers had boarded, the list was cleared and 5 additional seats even opened up. I got a center seat exit row, incidentally, the first center seat I’ve occupied in years. Delta flyers will know row 26 on the MD90 isn’t exactly a win, unless you get the window, but I was on my way home. Yay! However, there was one little nit with boarding that I wanted to explore here. Even though I was cleared and boarding the flight right after Sky Priority customers, the agent insisted on checking the carry on bags of all the standby customers, including yours truly. To the Delta DCA gate team’s credit, they had priority bag tags at the gate, tagged my bag for Atlanta, and on I went to find that there was still plenty of overhead space open around my seat.

Running an airline is a great balancing act, and on a micro level, managing an individual departure like this is a balancing act all its own. On one hand, I think I as a Platinum Medallion SkyMiles member deserve an opportunity to at least try and find a place for my bag given how early I was boarding. On the other, I see some value in preserving carry on space for those passengers actually confirmed on this particular flight. In the end, my bag was waiting for me when I got to the carousel so I didn’t lose any time because of this. This is solidly in the #FirstWorldProblems category and to be clear, I’m not complaining, I’m just pondering. How do you feel about this? Vote in the reader poll.

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