Monday, September 13, 2010

Take THAT to the Burbank

Get it? Burbank was named after an extraordinarily irritating institution promoting the liquidation and loaning of burs that thrived from the years 1478 to 1998. Burs, being those little prickly things you get in your socks whenever you hike anywhere in California. After the institution randomly exploded causing quantum flux resonance in the greater Los Angeles area resulting in a spontaneous town filled with humans, buildings, and companies claiming to have been around since BEFORE 1998, the mayor of New York City declared the town to be called Burbank for reasons unknown to men and women of all ages.

Well guess what? I am here, right now, in that very mystical town. And I did it on purpose. Recall with an excellent sensation that I recently wrote a post about flying to Los Angeles and renting from the Hertz facility and how horrible it was. Well, since I was returning to the same Glendale/Burbank area, I decided instead to fly into Burbank and see what the fuss was all about.

In order to do so I had to connect through my old stomping ground, San Francisco International Airport. So, one trans-continental flight plus a 10 minute jumper plane. When I booked the flights, I checked the seat availability in all cabins to make sure that I was going to get an upgrade. I refuse to not be upgraded anymore. I've tasted the upgrade AND IT IS GOOD. I wants it.... I needs it..... my preccciiioooussssssss one cabin upgrade. You see, the flight to SFO from JFK is exactly the same as the flight to LAX. It is that same United Premium Service airplane with an extra large business class and no economy class (only economy plus).

Well, I was so confident that I was going to be upgraded that I didn't even bother giving serious thought to the seat in economy plus I wanted. A week went by and I received no upgrade message in my e-mail. That is ok. I usually don't.

I got to the airport and sat down at the gate confidently knowing that I was going to be marching down the red carpet to take my glorious throne of excellence (or THREXCELLENCE™) once the flight starting boarding. I was early (because I don't have to wait in security lines) so I went and purchased some reading material. I returned to the gate and starting watching the monitors. The monitors that United airlines usually has at all of its gates give you important information about your flight, and shows the names of people waiting on standby or for an upgrade. They also show you how many people have checked in.

Well, normally my name appears on the upgrade list to business class on these monitors, but it didn't this time. Now, you are probably thinking that I got really angry and marched right up to the gate agent and began an onslaught of well placed punches directly to their face until I got an upgrade. Well, I am happy to say that no one was punched this time. I was actually very calm. Since my name wasn't on the list, I assumed I had already gotten the upgrade. So I remained comfortably seated, waiting for the gate agent to call my name and tell me "I'll be ttttthhheeerrreee.... in business class". I waited for a few seconds, then the seconds turned into minutes, then the minutes turned into hours, then the hours turned back into minutes (for tax reasons) and before I knew it, boarding had begun.

My heart began racing, literally, it qualified for the NYC marathon. I was nervous that something might be wrong. I have seen the gate agents hand out the new seat assignment to someone as they board, so I assumed that that was what was going to happen to me. So I missed my opportunity to board on the red carpet. They called for Premier members to board after they boarded the Premier Executives and Star Alliance Gold members, so on I went with my Premier brethren. I boarded.... and walked... walked a long, slow, shameful walk to my economy plus seat in the second to last row of this aeroplane. NO UPGRADE. I wasn't even on the list?! What the TUBE.

Naturally, a guy in crutches was sitting in the aisle seat to my window seat. This meant no bathroom breaks for 6 and a half hours without kicking a cripple in the chest until he falls out of his aisle seat (which I was prepared to do). I was angry. I felt hurt. But what could I do? Fortunately, I have many moviefilms available to watch on my portable computronic calculation machine. And VERY fortunately, the economy plus seats also had plugs. I forgot about this fact. The one thing about the economy plus seat plugs is that they are very very very hard to reach, and even more difficult to navigate with a grounded plug. They are located between the middle seat and the window seat, and also between the middle seat and the aisle seat, down close to the floor. It is impossible to see the plugs. You cannot see them, do not try to regard them with your human optical orbs. You have to either use The Force, a mirror, or a camera phone. I used a camera phone. Put the camera phone down between the seats and turn it towards the back of the plane, then snap the picture. If you are lucky, you can see the outlet and what orientation it is in. After 20 minutes, I was able to plug my laptop in and watch movies for the entire flight. So it wasn't SO bad. I was not hungry, and I was not thirsty, so I did not miss the meal service. Sadly, the business class seats are NOT infinitely more comfortable than economy plus, so I didn't really miss that either. I think the only thing I missed was the prestige of sitting in business class. The feeling you get that you're special, that you are more valuable than other humans, that you simply are just more important in the grander scheme of things.

I arrived at SFO with a pounding headache and some serious gas. You see, airplanes are like fart factories. All that pressure change you go through, your stomach secretes extra fart enzymes to maintain integrity throughout the atmospheric trauma.


My flight to Burbank from SFO was delayed due to accidental mismanagement of airlines... in general. So I stopped at a nice place to have some delicious sushi before boarding the CRJ 200 Canadaire jet bound for Burbank.

As exciting as it was to fly in a giant metal tube propelled and kept aloft by extraordinarily complex engineering... all made by Canadians.... my flight to Burbank was surprisingly short and pleasant. They even had my favorite safety card graphic.


The real joy of the trip was the drastic difference between Bob Hope International and LAX. In the next post, I will tell you why I never ever plan on flying to LAX again in favor of the Burbank airport. But for now, take solace in the fact that I was not upgraded to business class.

When I landed in SFO, I called United Premier Customer Service in an attempt to find out why I was not on the upgrade list. I very quickly was put on the line with a nice young lady who probably spoke English but was impossible to understand. I tried to describe the issue to her a couple of times but it didn't sound like she fully grasped the concepts. Regardless, she told me that United would be compensating me for the inconvenience. "Excellent" I said to myself in a glorious manner. A few seconds later I got an e-mail from United asking me to choose my preferred compensation. How awesome! You get a choice!

My choices were, $150 E-Certificate good for any flight on United set to expire in like... 20 minutes, a second option which I cannot remember, and 7000 bonus miles. I picked the miles. So, I actually felt pretty good about that. I got 7000 more miles out of the trip for NOT being upgraded. Of course, they aren't elite qualifying miles, but thats ok.

By the way, my intention with this blog is not to brag about my TAWESOMENESS™ (think Tall + Awesome), but to relate to you all my experiences, both good and bad. Good things do happen to me, but so do the bad. Not being upgraded was one of them, and I willfully bask in the glory of its crapulance.



  1. Why should you deserve an $150 e-cert for no upgrade on p.s.? UDU does not work for p.s., you have to initiate the upgrade with miles or a SWU/CR-1..

  2. You are right, I didn't know that there was no UDU on p.s. until much later. However, United owes me one for dealing with their call centers in India where nobody speaks English.