I Was Skipped Over A Voucher Because The Gate Agent Only Needed Coach Seats


Earlier this afternoon at SJU Airport, I was scheduled to board American Airlines flight 868 to Miami at 1:35pm. I arrived at the airport at 11am and went to the Admiral’s Club. I asked the AAngel if my flight was oversold and she said the flight was oversold by 4. I relaxed for an hour and a half before proceeding to the gate at 12:30pm.

At boarding gate 11, I asked the male Hispanic gate agent if the flight was oversold and he said the flight was oversold by 3. I asked him if I could volunteer my seat since I was fully flexible and had no checked luggage and he said yes. I also confirmed with him that I was number one on the volunteer list and the compensation was for a $300 voucher. He told me to come back at 1pm so I went back into the Admiral’s Club to relax.

As I left the Admiral’s Club at 12:55pm, the AAngel told me that she saw my name on the volunteer list and I said yeah, I volunteered. I didn’t even ask her, but she was checking up on me. I knew they were called AAngels for some reason.

At 1pm, I stationed myself right next to the gate agent’s desk. This time, he called for two more volunteers and I overheard that their routing was SJU-MIA-ORD. My routing was SJU-MIA-LAX. I saw three boarding passes on the gate agent’s desk which all had the word “VOL” written on the boarding passes, one of which is mine. At this time, the standby list was growing at 35! The gatehouse was a madhouse with passengers bombarding the gate agent with standby questions and likeness of making it on the flight.

The boarding process began at 1:00pm. At 1:20pm, the male Hispanic gate agent made a phone call to protect two passengers on the next flight and the Chicago flight from Miami. At this time, I thought I had it in the bag since I was first to volunteer and the gate agent was making phone calls to protect Volunteer #2 and #3 on another flight.

A few minutes later, the gate agent advised me that he no longer needed me. I said I was number 1 on the volunteer list and you gave #2 and #3 priority over me. He proceeded to tell me that he only needed coach seats and I was travelling in Business Class. At this point, I was floored by his response and I was last to board which of course means no overhead bin space. The gate dragons were forced to check my bag.

I’ve never had this happen before. Was I part of upgrade shenanigans at SJU Airport? Could this clearly be #firstworldproblems?


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8 Comments on "I Was Skipped Over A Voucher Because The Gate Agent Only Needed Coach Seats"

  1. something sounds really sketch. i would assume #1 on the list means #1 to be pulled off the flight, no matter what class. if they needed a Y seat shouldn’t they have been able to upgrade someone into C to free it up? he shouldn’t have added you to the list in the first case if that indeed was the rule, that people in C are not eligible.

    (also, imho not a first world problem because rules are rules, whatever world you’re in)

  2. I had a similar story on AA when flying ORD-EWR in F. Last flight out on Sunday night, so the offer was $500 + hotel + food voucher to take the Monday morning flight instead. Naturally I volunteered.

    When it came time to board, the gate agent said she didn’t need me any more because they had pulled someone else in coach. Needless to say, I was disappointed, but I didn’t make too big of a stink because she was nice about it and genuinely thought she was doing me a favor!

    • i’m glad to hear a similar story.. it was definitely disappointing, but you’re right- it’s not the end of the world. Could this be a new thing in the VDB world since most of the seats they would need would be in coach.

  3. MidCentModFan | May 22, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Reply

    Why did you point out that the gate agent was Hispanic (also noted to be a male)? You made no reference to a descriptor for the AAngel (designated as female). Did you feel that this factor had some kind of bearing on the outcome of your request?

    • i pointed it out just in case someone from AA is reading and wanted the description… this has nothing to do with race/ethnicity. He was polite from the get-go.

      • MidCentModFan | May 22, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Reply

        You can see how this could be interpreted in other ways than you intended. If your reasoning for pointing out the gate agent’s “race/ethnicity” was to provide an accurate description specifically for any AA staff who might read your blog to assist them in identifying him, perhaps you should have also given more details about the AAngel so she could have been recognized for her customer service.

  4. Just because you volunteered first doesn’t mean they have to take you. If rebooking you is more challenging than rebooking the others then it makes sense to skip you. He should have told you that was his intention if it was, but there is no rule that VDBs are given out in order of who volunteers.

  5. There are many factors in deciding who gets compensation. The DOT classifies volunteers arriving within 2 hours, within 4 hours and over 4 hours of their original arrival times differently. Volunteers that arrive in under 2 hours have less impact on DOT rankings than those that arrive over 4 hours late. Agents are trained to take the volunteers that will arrive at their final destination in under 2 hours first, then under 4 hours and finally over 4 hours. Since you were going to LAX you became a passenger of last choice as you would arrive way past 4 hours from your original time. Hope this helps.

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