I approached the staff working at the gate counter and asked – as I always do – “Is there any chance this flight might be overbooked, and needing volunteers to be bumped off the flight?”
“Actually, yes,” the man replied. “If you agree to get bumped, I’ll give you a $400 voucher for a future flight. Where’s your final destination?”
“I’m heading to Cincinnati,” I said.
He frowned. “I can’t get you there,” he said, “but I can get you on a flight to Dayton, Ohio by 5 pm.”
Dayton, Ohio is only an hour from Cincinnati – and my boyfriend, who’s driving into Cincinnati from the far north, has to pass through Dayton en route regardless.
What I should have said is: “Sweet! I’ll take it!”
Instead I said: “Let me call my boyfriend to make sure he can pick me up from Dayton. I’ll give you an answer in 2 minutes.”
Of course he would say yes. He’d be passing through Dayton anyway. Asking him was a mere formality – a way to be polite, before committing myself to a permanent flight change.
Big mistake. Those 2 minutes cost me $400. By the time I returned to the counter to tell the man my answer is yes, he no longer needed volunteers.
In the world of airlines (and in the world in general), you must be decisive. When a great opportunity presents itself, pounce. The world does not reward wafflers.
Be okay with big wins and big losses.
Okay, so I lost $400. While negotiating for a car, saying the wrong thing could lose me $4,000. Negotiating for a house, saying the wrong thing could lose me $40,000. The world is filled with big gains and big losses. You’ll experience both. In the long run, you simply have to win more often – and win bigger sums – than you lose.
The staff didn’t ask for volunteers – I offered. As a result, I received an opportunity I otherwise never would have had.
I had a layover in Charlotte, en route from Atlanta to Cincinnati. At the gate in Charlotte, I asked again if the airline is looking for volunteers. Again, the man at the gate said yes.
He said could get me on a flight to Dayton by 5:40 pm. I accepted immediately. The route was shorter, so he offered me a smaller voucher – only $225 in flight credit instead of $400. Still, that means my flight to Cincinnati would be effectively free.
Cash FLOWS – easy come, easy go.
As I sat in the airport waiting for my now-later flight to Dayton, I heard my name being paged over the intercom. I went to the gate desk, where I learned that my second attempt at volunteering my ticket – and collecting $225 – also failed. The airlines no longer needed my seat.
In the blink of an eye, hundreds of potential dollars can come and go. That’s why it’s called cash “flow.” Understanding the ebb-and-flow of money is key to not taking it too seriously. Don’t pinch pennies; look for big opportunities instead.