the rant i posted earlier this evening was small potatoes compared to what happened after i logged off my computer.
when i was writing that rant, i had a boarding document telling me that i was confirmed for a seat on the flight, but that i would be assigned a seat at the gate. i was fine with that, as long as i was checked in for the flight. i assumed everything would be okay, since [despite the preceding insanity] i was checked in for my flight an hour and a half beforehand.
they started boarding people. there were still ten people on the "confirmed awaiting seats" list, and then another fourteen on standby. i was number nine on the "confirmed awaiting seats" list.
they kept boarding people.
they stopped boarding people.
they shut the door.
by this point, i was still number nine on the "confirmed awaiting seats" list, and starting to feel like i was in no better position to get a seat than the people on standby. i had moved from my seat in the gate area over to the ticket counter to see what was going on.
i had no truly concrete idea why i was so low on the list, and United's list of factors wasn't helping me much. they said that people's position on the seating list was based on "mileage plus status, and other factors such as flight intangibles." so, in other words, i reasoned that because i had a $300 flight off of travelocity instead of paying $600 to buy the ticket direct from United, i probably wasn't going to get a seat because they were ridiculous enough to oversell a 150 person flight by ten people.
finally, they printed out four tickets and gave them to the first four people among those still left on the "confirmed awaiting seats" list. there had, at least, been a few people who checked in but did not show up for the plane. those four happily took their tickets, walked over to the plane, and were allowed on. there were six of us left; i was fifth on the list. i was pleased to see the line move a bit, but i knew in my heart of hearts that there were not five more seats open on that plane.
this meant that i was going to be left in chicago overnight, since the next flight they had space to put people on was scheduled to leave at 9:30 tomorrow morning. of course, i generally don't complain about extra nights in chicago...but really, i didn't want to spend a night stressing out about flight mishaps, and i didn't want to catch the inevitable large amounts of guff for not making it to idaho on time.
finally, they called out one more person who could have a ticket. however, that person was a mother travelling with her kid, and only one of them would be able to go. they weren't splitting up. they called the third person on the list. she was travelling with a friend--and she and her friend weren't splitting up. then, they called...me. SO MUCH RELIEF. i claimed the ticket: the last seat on the plane.
what made it even more awesome? there was one woman standing at the desk, continuously screaming at the ticket clerk. whenever she started printing out tickets, or even looking as though she might be printing out tickets, she started screaming, "gimme a ticket! gimme a ticket! i'm travelling alone!" it turns out that Loud Obnoxious Screaming Lady was the last person on the list, and even though she was travelling alone...there were no more seats, and she was stuck at o'hare an extra night. karma's a bitch.