Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Occupants of Seat 10-F

On Friday I boarded a US Airways flight from Denver to Las Vegas. Because I'd been a polite and patient customer while waiting for my boarding pass and for my luggage to be checked, Joyce, the friendly US Airways service agent told me she'd try to get me a seat with legroom.

"You're in luck Mr. Thompson. We have Seat 10-F available and I've put you in it. That's a window seat on an exit row."

I fly enough to know that getting this max-legroom seat at the check-in counter shortly before your flight is like winning $100 on a rub-off lottery ticket.

I had just settled into seat 10-F when a large man and his wife stopped in the aisle and he said:
"Sorry buddy, but you're in my seat."
Me: "Is this 10-F?"
Big Guy: "Yep and that's MY seat."
Big Guy's wife, to me: "You should check your boarding pass."
Me: "Here it is. 10-F."
Mrs. Big Guy: "Hey, honey, he's got YOUR name on his boarding pass!"
Me, looking at my boarding pass: "No, William Thompson, that's me."
The Big Guys: "No way! I'm William Thompson, too!"

They sit down next to me and we ring the call attendant button. A gate attendant comes on board to ask for my ID. She explains that I booked through US Airways and the other Bill Thompson, booked through AmericaWest. (Apparently all the kinks are not yet worked out in the merger of these two companies.) Since there were two Bill Thompsons booked onto the same flight for the same seat, the system had automatically deleted my ticket for my return trip. I handed her my driver's license and she sprinted off the plane. This activity sent a wave or worried murmuring and craned necks through the cabin. The muzak playing over the PA system had no effect whatsoever.

So while we waited for my identity to be established so the plane could take off, Big Guy and I made small talk.

Me: "What's your middle name?"
Big Guy: "Irwin."
Me: "Ouch! Mine is Henry."

We found out that our birthdays are only 5 days apart. He and Mrs. Big Guy live in Wyoming. They were going to Vegas for a real estate seminar. The conversation slowed to a crawl and I began to feel guilty for holding up the plane's departure. We were lucky that the flight (for once) was not full, so we all kept our exit-row seats.

[Little did I know, then, I was to spend an hour with a reservations agent once we arrived at Las Vegas, trying to get my ticket fixed.]

Soon things were put temporarily right by the Vegas gate agent, I got my ID back and we took off. Seconds later, just before I stretched out my legs and fell asleep, I took this picture of the Two Occupants of Seat 10-F, both named William Thompson.


At 10:25 AM, Blogger Rexroth's Daughter said...

That's quite a story. Sounds like it could have been the beginning of a suspense movie. One of you would be played by Harrison Ford. You would both be spies sent on the same mission, but both using the same undercover identity.

At 11:03 AM, Blogger Laura K said...

Hey, that sounds like the kind of hilarious situation that only William H. Thompson (the III) could find himself in.

Oh, and thanks for the Blair Witch photo. Freaky styley.

At 11:33 AM, Blogger Jim Mick-C said...

Wow, dude, what a horror tale of flight! The airlines are a real test of patience these days - we got delayed coming AND going on our recent Costa Rica trip and had to spend TWO extra days in Houston, thanks to Continental...

At 2:45 PM, Blogger Rondeau Ric said...

BT3 Comment 1, I'll give you a break- Ford would have played you.

The look on your face is a mastercard commercial - priceless.
It remnds me of a saying--
Allen’s Distinction:
The lion and the calf shall lie down together, but the calf won’t get much sleep.

You aren't going to get much sleep are you?

To post this I had to type in a magic word verification thing,
It was rqkwhr, a new language or just a Polish guy who couldn't afford a vowel. My wife's Polish so I,m allowed.

At 7:33 AM, Blogger Baus said...

I just heard your wife's commentary on NPR about blogging and marriage. Very entertaining. I'm commenting here rather than on her blog, because I figure you could use more attention now that she's been on national radio, and is therefore officially famous.

In case you're curious about the sort of readers her comments are bringing to your site: I am an American (of Baltimore) doing a Masters in philosophy in the Netherlands and I listen to NPR now and then via the web on my laptop.

I'm not really into birds, but they have some surprisingly weird birds here in Amsterdam. The other day I saw three bright green parrot-looking birds with long tails fluttering around the tree behind my apartment. They must have been someone's escaped tropical pets. Nontheless, native birds here are quite interesting.

At 8:56 AM, Blogger BT3 said...

Hey Everyone: Thanks for the comments! Baus: I think your birds were likely rose-ringed parakeets, a species that has become established as exotic breeders in The Netherlands and elsewhere. Julie and I saw several flocks in Amsterdam in 1995. Took us a while to figure out what they were.

At 4:54 PM, Blogger courtenay willis said...

I've recently moved to Europe and have been admiring the parakeet mentioned at my feeder station. Psittacula krameri is the species, but in Europe it goes by the name Ring-necked Parakeet (EN), Halsbandparkiet (NL) or Periche a collier (FR) - don't know the german common name yet. There is a population of at least 10,000 birds in Belgium, if not Brussels alone.

At 6:33 PM, Blogger momofmany said...

That was a hilarious post. As a fearful flier I would have been made incredibly nervous. Good for you! A sense of humor helps all.

At 4:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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