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No one believes this story. My boss and I were returning to Cedar Rapids, Iowa from Washington D.C. aboard TWA. The weather was bad and flight schedules were collapsing nationwide. It was a very chaotic evening. To make matters worse our flight was overbooked. While we had made it to our seats on the plane, the flight was delayed as the gate agents tried to encourage some passengers to get off to make room for others less patient. The minutes passed but there were not enough takers to free up the seats that agents felt they needed.

Finally, there came a point that we realized there was no way we would be able to make our connecting flight in St. Louis. We started negotiating and finally accepted their offer of one coach class ticket for each, anywhere in the country good for one year in exchange for disembarking. They promised us we would be on the first flight out the next morning, our night's lodging, and dinner and breakfast. We "dismounted."

When we reached the end of the tunnel we were met by the gate agent who was frantic. In a pleading voice she was asking over the public address for passengers who had disembarked from the plane to return to reboard. We told her that while we didn't understand exactly what the problem was, there were a lot of unhappy campers on board and she might consider just shutting the door and letting the plane leave. She explained that once they had compensated people to get off the plane, she couldn't let it take off without a full load. She was beside herself.

We pounced. We offered to immediately get back on the plane in exchange for two tickets each good for anywhere in the country. She immediately accepted and sent us back down the ramp. Imagine our surprise, and pleasure, when we found that the only two vacant seats that were left were in first class. Bottom line: we received two tickets good anywhere in the U.S. and an upgrade to first class by getting off and then back on the same plane. We laughed all the way home.

When we arrived in St. Louis it took a bit of talking to convince the airline's management to make good on the promise made in New York. Once we reached the level of the airline's grand poobah in charge that evening he readily agreed to make good on the deal. In fact, he issued one coupon for each of us in the name of our wife.




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