So, flying standby to Europe. Oh, and just days after the massive cloud of volcanic ash that grounded flights in Europe had began to clear. Mildly stressful? Nah, not at all. Everything worked out incredibly.
I had heard through other WestJet friends that getting upgraded while traveling stand by with other airlines, BA specifically, was a possibility. I collected all sorts of tips and tricks on how to encourage this. We showed up at check in on Wednesday night with a box of chocolates, a WJ pen and a personalized card for the check in agent. She smiled and continue to punch on the keyboard and printed our boarding passes. “We had a few seats in premium class. I’ve moved you up there. Better seats.” Success! We tagged our bags and off we went to board the 767 to London. When we boarded the plane, I asked to speak with the lead flight attendant. They sent her over to our brilliantly spacious seats.
I introduced myself and let her know I was with WJ airlines. We handed over a bag with WJ pens, chocolates and another card. She thanked us and promised to send over some champagne once we took off. Hell yes.
The flight was long but went by quickly. We started with our champagne, which was topped up a few times for us. Then a hot beef dinner and some wine. Just enough to get us deliciously tipsy. I thought the exhaustion I was feeling would be enough to get me to sleep, but I ended up spending hours in a sort of half-sleep state before arriving in London. Should have stuck with my plan and taken that little blue sleeping pill for dessert.
We arrived into Heathrow and had to change plans. We checked in at the BA counters and were sent to the staff stand by room. It’s such a great system. Each flight was listed on the screen and the booking reference numbers were listed underneath that. 45 minutes before departure time, the screen was updated to either say Accepted or Not Accepted. From there you drop your bags and go through security. We were told at check in that the flight was quite full and it was probable we would have to wait for the next one. But at 1515, the screen updated to read Accepted. Not only that, somehow we ended up sitting together as well! What luck.
Arriving into Amsterdam we found our way to the train, dragging our ridiculously heavy suitcases behind us. Dutch, a language I actually know none of. Not even the simplest of phrases to help me get around. (We have since learned hello, sorry and thank you, which is much less awkward then an empty silence where a thank you would go after purchasing something on the street.) We took the tram towards the Van Gogh museum and attempted to follow the hostelbookers.com directions to our home for the next 2 days. Wandering up and down the street, we eventually located it, checked in and head up to our tiny 6-bedroom dorm we shared with a guy from Prague and a family from Hong Kong (who I’m sure were absolutely annoyed with us what with our 6am arrivals home each night). A quick shower and it was time to venture into the city…