North Devon Journal writer given free Virgin Atlantic flights after plane is 'oversubscribed'
A SPORTS writer for the Journal is planning his summer holidays for the next couple of years after he was given tickets for free flights with Virgin Atlantic.
David Powell and his wife Beverley were given the good-will gesture after their journey home from a South African airport was overbooked.
The couple, who live in Parracombe, were due to leave Cape Town on Sunday. However, when they checked in they discovered the flight was oversubscribed.
The pair were picked from the queue and offered an extra night in a five-star waterfront hotel in city. The gesture also covered their meals and one ticket each to any country, except Australia.
David said: "We agreed and were thrilled at our good fortune. We were told that the flight had been overbooked and they were seeking passengers who would agree to stand down.
"We were booked on the corresponding flight home 24 hours later."
Virgin Atlantic's generous offer did not end there.
David said: "When we were picked up from our hotel and taken to the airport the next day we stood in line joking as to whether we would accept if we were asked again.
"Imagine our shock at being invited to stand down again. This time for two nights accommodation at the same hotel, meals thrown in, and for two free flights each anywhere in the world except Australia.
"No pressure was put on us at all. We were willing, indeed eager, volunteers. We will definitely be travelling Virgin again, even when we have to start paying."
The couple now have six free flights between them after accepting the "irresistible offer" to any destination apart from Australia.
A spokesman for Virgin Atlantic said the company does not comment on individual passenger cases.
However, part of the firm's over-bookings policy states: "In common with most airlines we may sometimes overbook flights to allow as many people as possible to travel.
"Often passengers holding confirmed reservations and flexible tickets change their plans or don't turn up.
"To address this and ensure popular flights do not leave with empty seats we use historical data to take a small number of additional reservations.
"On rare occasions however all the confirmed passengers will check in for the flight.
"We seek volunteers to give up their seats and by offering affected passengers compensation and a seat on the next available flight, as well as meals and accommodation where necessary."