A woman shared her experience this week on Reddit in a post that’s garnered over 5000 comments and 130,000 ‘up votes’.
She was flying from New York to DC in what looks to me to be either an Embraer ERJ-140 or 145. With plenty of cancellations due to weather, lots of passengers being re-accommodated, the plane was expected to be completely devoid of passengers. Everyone on this woman’s earlier cancelled flight got rebooked .. but then moved to an earlier flight.
Except she had left the airport and didn’t know she could fly earlier, too. So she showed up as the only passenger for this flight.
One of the airport agents came over while I was waiting and asked if that was the flight I was waiting for then said “I knew this would happen.” When my flight was canceled about 8 hours earlier a confused agent gave me and half the passengers a seat for the plane in the pic before another agent realized everyone could go on an earlier flight. They made an announcement on the speaker but I’d already left to go back to my parent’s house nearby to wait for the next few hours. I was never contacted about the flight change.
She says she understood everyone thought they’d just be repositioning the aircraft, not serving passengers. “The pilots both introduced themselves before the flight” and everyone thought it was cool — on the plane and apparently on the internet.
There’s something that resonates with this ‘lottery win’ of an experience, even for a short 200 mile hop. That’s probably because planes are usually so full, each passenger has so little space — and that space is getting squeezed as airlines add more seats into the cabin.
Although I thought it was special when something similar happened to me as a kid flying New York – Cincinnati. And I’ve certainly had the first class cabin to myself many times, flying ANA, Korean, Thai, and Emirates for instance.
The emptiest plane I’ve ever experienced as an adult traveler was United Airlines Los Angeles – Washington Dulles onboard a Boeing 777 late morning on New Years Day 2000 — Y2K — everyone else was either hung over or afraid to fly.