Like most other people I enjoy getting stuff for free. Grocery store samples, a refreshing mint at the end of a meal, making it on the guest list at a concert; if its free of charge I almost always want it. I like to think that some people excel at getting free stuff and I count myself among them.
That being said, when I heard the announcement that United Airlines was looking for volunteers to be bumped from the 10-hour flight from Seattle to Tokyo in exchange for a $700 voucher, free hotel room for the night and several vouchers for meals, I thought nothing of it. I’ve taken many flights and have almost always needed to be where I was going at a specified time. It didn’t occur to me that because I would be arriving in Taiwan with no job and no planned accommodation that it really didn’t matter when I showed up. Thus the announcement was made several times before my thoughtful girlfriend finally took it upon herself to see if the two of us could still make it to Taiwan the next day if we took the offer. Turns out we could.
To be honest it seems odd to me that an airline would purposely over-book a flight knowing they would have to later dole out freebies for those willing to give up their seat. Especially in an age where it seems like airlines are charging for everything short of the privilege to use the restroom. Nonetheless we took the bait and a couple hours later were on our way to the Doubletree to check into our (free) room. Voila!
It was decided that we should make the best of our time in Seattle (I’ve only ever passed through) and since the BCS national championship game was to be played that night we opted to take the train downtown and find a place to watch it. After having a shitty dinner (even for being free) in the hotel restaurant, we set off in search of some good beer and a television. No lie, I was amped to check out the famous Pike PLace Fish Market even though I figured it would be just about closed down by the time we got there, which it was. I had just enough time to snap a few iphone photos before heading to the bar.
Notre Dame got stomped by Alabama and while it was not the outcome I wanted, I felt content that I at least got to see the game and hang out in Seattle, all made possible by United Airlines. I almost forgot we were still on our way to Taiwan. Shout-out to free shit.