First Class Upgrade or Travel Voucher

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Last week I had been on a business trip to Seattle. The flight was fully booked and I had a middle seat in economy. Being 6′ 4″ tall, I felt like a withdrawn turtle the entire way 🙁


In this comfortable position, I started working on my vocabulary with Word Power Made Easy.

Improving my vocabulary is part of my goals for 2017 and I was finally getting started with it.

The book is very entertaining. It goes into etymology and makes learning fun.


For example, you might know the meaning of the word “ambidextrous” – ability to use both hands with equal skill.

Did you know that “ambi” means “both”?

Did you know that “dexter” in Latin means “right hand”.

Historically, right hand has always been associated with skill.

Piecing it together, ambidextrous literally means that a person has two right hands.

I completed 3 sessions. Time well spent!





Seattle Downtown

I have visited Seattle a few times on vacation before but this was my first business trip.

Work required me to be in downtown and my hotel was a few blocks away from where I needed to be.

I chose to rent a car instead of choosing public transport. This turned out to be a mistake.

Parking is so expensive and it is difficult to find parking spots. Well, you could say that is typical of any downtown.

What I failed to know was that Seattle has very good public transportation.

I could have taken the light rail from the airport to downtown.

Even though my company was paying for the rental car, I felt that I totally wasted it.

The car sat in a parking lot for $35 per day. I never took it out.

Wherever I needed to go, I walked or took the train, which was far more efficient use of my time.

Work went well, it was two long days packed with meetings.

The two hour time difference messed up my sleep schedule and I felt sleep deprived.



I have two college buddies living in the “Evergreen State”, aka, Washington. When I reached out to one dude, he was out on a business trip to Indiana.

When I reached out to the other, he was having a crazy week and didn’t have the time for a five hour drive to Seattle.

Usually, whenever I am up in Seattle, I meet both of them.

I got to meet neither of them this time.



PF Community

There are probably quiet a few PF bloggers in the Seattle area. I know that Ty (personal finance blogger) from Get Rich Quickish, whose blog I read often, lives in the Seattle area.

My goal is to connect with PF folks and try to meet up for coffee or beer when I make my next trip to Seattle.

On hindsight, I wish I had connected with folks sooner.


First Class Upgrade

Given that  I had no business left, I chose to head over to airport right after work even though my flight was ~5 hours later in the evening. I was taking a red eye flight back home to Houston.

I was five hours early at the airport, checked in, and received my boarding pass.

When I looked at it, it said Boarding Group 1, and I had a first class seat assigned.

I couldn’t believe it.

Even though I have been travelling a bit, I had just reactivated my United mileage account very recently. There was no frequent flyer history in the near past.

This got me worried.

I started wondering – “Did I hit a wrong button while checking in and ended up paying $400 for an upgrade?”

To settle this with absolute certainty, I asked the airline agent to check.

She checked and confirmed that I didn’t pay for the upgrade and that I had been bumped up by the airline.

I looked up to heaven and said “Thank you!”.

I called home and spoke to Sarah and kiddos and said “See you in the morning!”

Going on a tangent here – but this will help with narration – I read a story to my 5 year old daughter. She liked the characters in the story so much that she assumed her name to be Otter, her big sister Teddy, and  I was Otter Keeper, and mom was Mama. 

Otter and Teddy are now excited and really looking forward to have Otter Keeper (daddy) back home in the morning.


Travel Voucher

With nothing to do, I logged in and continued working, ate dinner, and finally stood in boarding group 1 🙂

While standing in line to board, the agent at the gate announced –

“Folks, the flight is way overbooked. We are offering $400 travel voucher for anyone who can stay overnight and take another flight back to Houston.

We are offering a hotel (free overnight stay) , take care of your meals (free meals) and free shuttle to and from the hotel. We need volunteers.”


The offer was very enticing. Of course, it would have been very easy for me to return home the following day.

I looked up to heaven and wondered – Is this a test?


First Class Upgrade or Travel Voucher

Now, I had officially started a thought war in my head.

It was Stretch A Dime vs. Otter Keeper!

I said, let the games begin.

Stretch A Dime was objective and turf defending – “This is my territory. Stay out of it. I get to make the money decisions. This would become a topic for a blog post.” 

Otter Keeper argued, “Have you ever been a dad? Do you know that I just told Otter and Teddy that I will be back home tomorrow morning? Besides, you will figure out what to write, perhaps you could write about me, a mention would be nice”.

This back and forth went on for a few minutes and I had to step into my thought world and stop the nonsense before it resulted in a headache.

I aligned with Otter Keeper on this one and decided to head back home.

Couple of hours later, I heard that we were making preparations for landing…the flight had arrived early.

Off the plane, shuttle to the parking lot, in my car, and I am headed home.


Priceless Moment

Finally, I reached home. Sarah welcomed me home with a cup of fresh coffee.

Then I went and cuddled up with Otter and Teddy.

The love, joy, and excitement in Otter’s and Teddy’s eyes when they saw Otter Keeper was priceless.

Otter Keeper was so happy to be back home.

Otter Keeper then nudged Stretch A Dime and said – “Now, that’s what I am talking about”.

Stretch A Dime conceded – “I get it!”.

In this case, I didn’t care for the $400 (lost opportunity) and I chose to be back home.

I had kept my word to my kiddos and that was far more important than the $400.

I was content and thankful with the upgrade to first class.


Have you been in a similar situation? Have you been a situation with two good choices that are competing your attention?



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14 thoughts on “First Class Upgrade or Travel Voucher”

  1. ha! It appears that we flipped flopped last week. While you came to Seattle, I was actually in Texas for business 🙂

    There are a number of PF bloggers out here. We definitely need to schedule up a meet-up because I’d love to meet other people as well.

    Also, I’m glad that Otter Keep won out – good decision!

    1. What a strange coincidence? 🙂 Perhaps we could meet up the next time I am up there in Seattle. It would be great to have a meet up with a group of PF bloggers.

      Yes, me too, so glad Otter Keeper won!


  2. Oh man I can see how you had the dilemma. Since my son is 1 I haven’t had that dilemma yet but I definitely would follow your path. $400 is definitely not worth it to not see my kiddo. I always look forward to running home and playing with him 🙂

  3. My wife got an $800 travel voucher to wait an hour and a half for the next flight. And she got to sit first class! What a deal. We nearly got $2k worth of vouchers for both of us to wait overnight. Needless to say I’m a big fan of travel vouchers.

    1. That is a fantastic deal! Wow, $2K travel vouchers, I need to travel with you 🙂

      When I was single, these things didn’t knock on my door. It would have been the best time to take advantage of these benefits.

      I believe one’s perspective changes once kids arrive.


  4. Great story. I can definitely understand Otter Keeper as a father of 2 little ones. I’m always trying to optimize finances, get some freebies, etc…but not at the expense of family time. There are some things money can’t buy. Your perspective definitely changes once you become a daddy.

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Welcome to Stretch A Dime! Thank you. Yes, I was so glad to be back home with the wife and kiddos.

      Hope to see you more here.


    1. Hi Jason,

      Welcome to Stretch A Dime!

      Thank you! I would have done the same thing you did if I were single.

      Hope to see you more here.


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