I Booked An Online Advantage Fare

by Pat Bergan

I haven’t traveled much recently (I wonder why), so when I went online to book a flight recently, a new fare caught my eye.
The “Online Advantage Fare” seemed too good to be true.
Lower than Economy Plus, and even lower than Basic Economy.
I always found Basic Economy to be pretty no-frills.
How could airlines go even lower?
They must really care about the customer!
I booked it.

Before confirming, there was a long page of legalese.
I skipped it.
The price was right!

I got to the airport one hour early as I usually do and checked in at the e-kiosk.
Well, I tried too.
The machine flashed “OAF!” on the screen and made some weird clicks and beeps.
Almost like it was laughing.
An employee guided me to the in-person check-in.
Everyone in line seemed excited; they must have gotten this good deal too.

Security was fine.
A little more thorough than usual.
The TSA agent asked me how I was doing.
He must not have heard me say fine because he responded, “for now…”
Didn’t make sense.

There are a lot more restricted areas in the terminals these days.
Maybe it’s a post-COVID thing or something, but all of the shops, restaurants, newsstands are all behind locked doors.

They made changes at the gate too.
OAFs had a separate set of seats.
They seemed smaller than the terminal seats I remember.
I could be wrong.
It’s been so long since I’ve flown.

I wanted to ask a gate agent about possible upgrades, so I went up to the desk.
She must have been having a bad day because she was the rudest gate agent I’ve ever talked to.
And that is saying something.
When I asked about upgrades, she laughed.
Actually laughed.
Then told me to sit down and keep my mouth shut.

Boarding time.
The usual song and dance.
First class, military, families with small children, A, B, C.
But no OAFs.
It was weird.
Finally, after ages, the gate agent almost mumbled, “ok OAFs, you’re up.”
And the strangest thing happened.
There were “Boos.”
Airline workers from other gates had gathered in the delay to Boo us OAFs as we boarded.
One even had a cowbell, clanging it as she shouted, “Shame!”

Once we boarded, the other passengers Boo’ed us too!
It was quite embarrassing.
I settled into my seat (last row, middle) and went to hit the stewardess button for a glass of water.
No button.
I’ll just catch her when she walks by.
She never did.

That must have been the strangest flight of my life.
I’ve never felt so insulted.
You might be asking yourself, “Would I do it again?
Am I an OAF now?”

You bet.
You just can’t beat that price!

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