Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Get "Rich" Quick Scheme!

Seven months ago, I moved to Buenos Aires without a job because I’ve always wanted to learn Spanish. So here I am now, learning Spanish while teaching English and translating Chinese on the side. (Yes, it is weird.) In any case, this summer, my Argentine boyfriend and I went up to the States to visit family and friends. What was supposed to be a two-week-ish vacation quickly turned into a three-week-ish one (and/or limbo of the hellish kind) when we got stuck in the airport for four days, voluntarily, in exchange for something like money.

If you, too, would like to make nearly $6,000 of “money” for “free” in four days, please consider my first-hand experience doing the same, as detailed below:


1. Find the gate for your connecting flight to Buenos Aires.
a. It’s on time!
b. You made it!
c. People are crying.

2. This is somewhat explained by an announcement asking for volunteers to delay their flight a day to help the rest of the selfish and hurried masses get to Buenos Aires on time. (It is overbooked by 24, OH SHOOT.) They offer:
a. meal vouchers.
b. hotel vouchers.
c. an $800 travel voucher.

3. Look at your guy. Tentatively suggest this as an option. You are unsure, he is unsure.

4. Realize $800 more than either of you make in a month.

5. Accept the offer.
a. While receiving said vouchers, listen attentively to the man behind the counter as he mentions, offhandedly, that this may happen again tomorrow and that “some people do take advantage of it.”
b. Laugh amicably, then ask no fewer than 10 follow-up questions. 

6. Find the man in the red jacket to ask about your luggage, which can only ever be disappointing news.
a. He will confirm that it is stuck in the warehouse.
b. Accept the toiletry bags he offers you as a consolation gift.

7. Go directly to the hotel via AirTrain and shuttle.
a. Without asking for your name or an ID, the concierge will exchange your hotel voucher for a room key picked at random from a stack they have waiting next to their Florida mousepads.
i. First of all, mousepads.
ii. Second of all, you are in New Jersey.
b. Congratulations, you have been given, at random, double beds and a room that smells like cat pee!
c. Contemplate watching a movie on your computer but, upon realizing your charger is in the warehouse with your aforementioned luggage, opt for trash TV instead, lest you waste what precious battery remains.


1. Wake up. Put on your underwear inside out. Fresh.

2. Cross your fingers for another overbooked flight.

3. Dump out water bottles before security.

4. Refill water bottles after security.

5. Once inside the terminal and sufficiently bored, talk with your guy about where you’ll go with what is, in a sense, Monopoly money.
a. You want to go to Iceland but he doesn’t.
b. He wants to live in Morocco but you don’t.
i. For emphasis: LIVE?!
ii. He adds: “Or Egypt.”
c. By the way, Greece is pretty.
d. Also, he has family in Italy.
i. Decide to go to Italy.
ii. For three to six months.
iii. Decide to learn Italian.
iv. At summer school.
e. It’s settled.

6. Get sick of books and podcasts. Attempt, mostly in vain, to find new forms of entertainment.
a. Drink absurd amounts of coffee, then leave your bags with your guy so you can walk laps around the terminal.
b. CALL EVERYONE. Preferably under the influence of caffeine.
c. Scour travel books in the bookstore. Buy nothing.
d. Play Bejeweled.
i. For hours on end.
ii. For hours on end.
iii. Literally, for hours on end.

7. Finally join the tribe you’ve seen milling around and waving to each other in the food courts. They are also volunteers. This tribe includes but is not limited to:
a. V., the tribe’s mother hen.
b. J., a German-cum-Canadian going to BA for holiday.
c. C., a jazz musician.
d. P., quiet.
e. two other Couples.
f. G., a kid who’s just done a two-week cultural exchange and has a Darth Vader mask in his carry-on “for pictures.”
g. J., who has a fedora.

8. Again, the announcement. You each accept:
a. meal vouchers.
b. hotel vouchers.
c. a $1,000 travel voucher.

9. Cancel plans and classes accordingly.

10. Ask the same man in the red jacket about your luggage.
a. Learn that it has just gone to BA without you.
b. Accept the toiletry bags he offers you as a consolation gift.

11. This time, your bedroom smells like smoke. Whatever.

12. Get ready for bed.
a. Wash underwear in sink. Dry on desk light.
b. Beg your boy to keep the TV off. Sweet, sweet silence.
c. Behind your eyelids, see only Bejeweled.


1. Wake up tired, despite having done nothing.

2. To keep up morale, risk your precious computer battery reserve to look up the flights you can now fully afford with your $1,800 apiece.

3. Get breakfast at the hotel with your meal vouchers and pay the tip, embarrassingly enough, in quarters. This is because:
a. Your credit card is maxed out from your flight home.
b. Your debit card has an extremely low balance. Remember now that you casually bought iPads to resell for the double the price in BA.
c. You spent your last few dollars on apples for the airport.

4. Nearly literally, you no longer have any money. You do, however, have:
a. Four flight vouchers equaling $3,600.
b. One wadded-up 100-pesos bill in your change purse.
c. Two brand-new iPads.

5. Go from the shuttle to the AirTrain to security with zero hesitation.

6. Dump out water bottles before security.

7. Refill water bottles after security.

8. Again, the announcement.
a. When they ask for volunteers in exchange for $600 travel vouchers, actually laugh.
b. When they ask for volunteers in exchange for $800 travel vouchers, act like a spoiled child. Whine. Wait it out.
c. When they ask for volunteers in exchange for $1,000 travel vouchers, accept, but begrudgingly. (You were secretly expecting it to go as high as $1,200.)

9. You and your boyfriend now have $2,800 each — nearly $6,000 total in Monopoly money.

10. When the rest of the tribe asks if you’ll do it again tomorrow, laugh, maybe a bit maniacally, and say, “Oh no, it’s not worth our sanity.”
a. But let the record show that the man behind the counter maintained that this would continue until Sunday.
b. But no, oh no, we wouldn’t dare!

11. This time, your bedroom does not smell like anything.

12. When your boyfriend goes down for a “free” drink, stay to “get some sleep.”
a. Cry a little because you can’t sleep.
b. Feel like you’re at a sleepover from hell and you miss your mom.
i. You are at a sleepover from hell.
ii. You do miss your mom.
c. Remember, inexplicably, that everyone you know will someday die.
d. Ask yourself, “What IS a voucher?”
e. To boost morale, risk precious computer battery to watch:
i. An old Disney cartoon of personified trees entitled “Silly Symphony.”
ii. Song clips from a Russian Winnie the Pooh.
f. ???????????????????

13. When your boyfriend comes back, try again to sleep.
a. See nothing but Bejeweled.
b. See nothing but Bejeweled in improvised alternative color schemes.
c. Ask your boy why he thinks all the colors have distinct shapes expect for green and white, which are both round.


1. Wake up. You realize last night your forgot your complimentary toiletry bags. Examine:
a. Your pores four days without face wash.
b. Your hair one day without brushing.
c. Your smell one day without deodorant and four days in the same outfit, marinated in a constant light sweat and airport air.

2. Ask the same man in the red jacket one more question about your luggage. He will laugh and say, “Whatchu doing here? Want my jacket? You guys are pros now!”

3. Dump out water bottles before security.

4. Refill water bottles after security.

5. Use a generous amount of free lotion at a gift store.

6. Run into the two tribe couples.
a. Despite your current state of quiet distress, convince them of the benefits of volunteering a third night.
b. Tell them with unreal detail and accuracy where to get the free toiletry bags, as well as an itemized list of what's inside.

7. Walk around with the only other remaining tribe member, V.
a. You are so tired you no longer understand any of the Spanish V. and your boyfriend are speaking.
b. Become acutely aware of the fact that V. never stops talking.
c. Do not snap. Do not snap. Do not snap.

8. Joke with your boyfriend that you’d stay another night but it might cost you your relationship.
a. You’re only half-joking.
b. You’re not not joking.

9. Go to the gate early. Honestly consider taking another voucher.
a. Try to contain your surprise when they don’t ask for volunteers.
b. Try to contain your surprise when they begin boarding more or less on-time.
c. Casually ask what’s going on. If they’re confused, specifically ask if they need volunteers. They will still be confused. They will say no.
d. Sigh with relief.

10. Get on the mother-effing plane.

In addition to teaching and translating, Sharon Salt now offers free trip itineraries and get rich quick schemes to the masses.

76 Comments / Post A Comment


Oh god no. With the exception of Day 1: 1a, everything you have described here is my version of hell. I would pay nearly $6000 not to experience it.

Beatrix Kiddo

@SarahP ME TOO. The airport is like the 7th circle of hell.

Judith Slutler

BRILLIANT. However though, airline screwups are why I always have an extra t-shirt, bra and undies in my carry-on, along with a tiny amount of liquid detergent. (I only started doing this after my ex and I turned a missed flight + hotel stay into a spontaneous night out in Philly and arrived back at the airport the next day reeking of sweat, smoke and vodka)


@Emmanuelle Cunt I always board every flight under the assumption that my checked luggage WILL get lost, so I always make sure that I have 3 days' worth of clothing, all of my favorite toiletries, a hundred tampons, an extra book, and a bushel of potatoes inside my carry-on.


@Emmanuelle Cunt you're a genius.

Judith Slutler

@werewolfbarmitzvah Are you also a former Girl Scout? I was legitimately annoyed when the FAA regulations changed so I couldn't bring my swiss army knife in my carryon. How do they know I won't need a corkscrew, can opener, tweezers, toothpick or small knife for perfectly legitimate reasons!?

@Megano! I was actually kind of pissed that someone beat me to writing an airport tips article for the 'Pin, because I consider myself a pro


@Emmanuelle Cunt Ditto, and when going on vacation, a bathing suit.


@Emmanuelle Cunt You just changed my game, friend.

Judith Slutler

@freelee fyi, silk shirts dry the fastest!


@Emmanuelle Cunt
I dunno, if it's a "legitimate" reason, I'm sure you could use your uterus.


Basically, just add "legitimate" to the list of words we can't really use with a straight face anymore.


@Emmanuelle Cunt I don't know if werewolfbarmitzvah is/was a Girl Scout, but I totally am/was. I always have AT LEAST 2 extra pairs of underwear/socks, and at least 1 extra shirt. Even if I'm staying somewhere just for the night and have every intention of wearing the same jeans home, I still bring extra.
I also carry toothpaste/toothbrush/floss/deodorant/hairbrush and a zillion OTC meds: pain, stomach, allergies, etc with me at all times.


@Emmanuelle Cunt @MarianTheLibrarian Yes, this. See: Why I carry toothpaste in my purse AT ALL TIMES. Once you are without it and end up paying $3 for a tiny tube of the stuff after a frantic airport search because you just can't take one more minute being alive if you don't brush your teeth, you never go back. Also, chargers go in the carry-on because you never know.


@Emmanuelle Cunt Funny story, I've accidentally flown with a mini swiss army knife like three times now (it's on my key chain). The first time was when I was flying with my ex boyfriend, who is British Indian and who's got a Muslim name. We went in different security lines and I got through WITH MY KNIFE no problem... whereas he got a full uber search.


I could proooobabbly do this, but it depends on the airport. If it is a nice one, like Vancouver, DONE! MONEY PLEASE. Toronto's is alright I could probably do it there too.


@Megano! I would totally do this in Amsterdam, but probably nowhere else.

Judith Slutler

@Ophelia A half an hour train ride from the airport to downtown, where you can have brunch overlooking a cute little canal and then get stoned out of your mind! I mean, buy tulip bulbs


@Ophelia I honeymooned in Amsterdam, and it was our fervent wish that either a volcano in Iceland would erupt again (obviously in an unpopulated area) or that the plane would be overbooked. Alas, no dice.


@Ophelia After a lovely evening in Frankfurt, I can comfortably say I would do it there in a heartbeat! I got a looooovely hotel room when they had to put about 5 flights of people up for the night.


@packedsuitcase I like parts of the Frankfurt airport, but portions of it haven't been renovated in AGES, and it's like being stuck in an endless Greyhound Bus terminal.


@Megano! I tried doing this in Amsterdam and instead found myself on a flight to Atlanta, which flew over my home city, and got me home at midnight instead 2:00pm like I had planned. I was so mad.


@Ophelia I will happily spend nights in those teacups.


@Ophelia - Done it in Amsterdam! Well - not really. We got bumped in Amsterdam and had to wait 4 days for the next flight. No luggage. But a sweet b&b in the museum district, it was a great 4 days.


@packedsuitcase Oh my god, I remembered the Frankfurt airport as having good food. So recently when I was there for 6+ hours, I decided to try all the different terminals, looking for the chimerical good food place.

Let me warn you all, IT DOES NOT EXIST. The entire Frankfurt airport is under construction, and it is all weirdly partitioned off for security. I kept accidentally going through passport control, so I got four stamps in one day, accidentally, wasting an entire page of my passport. And there is no good food in the entire airport. I know because I checked every nook and cranny of that cursed place. The pretzels in terminal Z are pretty good though!

Also, I love the Amsterdam airport. You can buy an entire wheel of cheese in that place, which is a big plus.


@Megano! Has anybody been to Changi Airport in Singapore? AMAZING. Greatest layover ever. I could live there.


@Nicole Elena Changi is the best! I lived in Singapore for a few years, so I'm a little biased, but that airport just makes my heart sing.


I DREAM OF THIS HAPPENING TO ME. But, I think I only wish for it 40% hard enough, so that I don't manage to manifest this, only hard enough that my planes are late and fucked up, but never so overbooked that they owe me money. I WILL WISH HARDER now because you have given me hope. Hope that I can get some kind of sick satisfaction out of being strangely and specifically uncomfortable in exchange for free monopoly money. Gosh, I need bigger aspirations.


@freelee That is the biggest of aspirations. We'll keep hoping, for we are the dreamers of dreams. Dreams and travel vouchers.


I would sign up for this. For a week. And then BE RICH.


RIIIIIIIIIIICH. (I may have initially assumed something inapplicable to the article based on the title.)


@wharrgarbl Me too. My heart rose...and then it sank again.



@SuperGogo Oh, god. What if he's stuck in an airport somewhere, constantly being bumped from flights, his electronics dead and his spare clothing in another time zone? What if he doesn't ever need electronics and spare clothing again because he's a travel-coupon billionaire?


@wharrgarbl I thought the same exact thing. Glad I'm not the only one!


Dang, I could definitely do this. In fact, I might try to next time I have a week to kill.


This sounds to me like an Aerolineas Argentinas situation -- the craziest most dysfunctional airline on earth!

the roughest toughest frail

@KJZ Fuuuuck Aerolineas Argentinas. My husband and I got stuck in the Ushuaia airport (on our honeymoon!) for 12 hours because of a strike? I couldn't quite figure out what was going on. But 12 hours in an airport with only two gates at the edge of the world = hell. We didn't get any vouchers, and ended up having to pay "late check-in" fines on our apartment in B.A.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

I have always wanted to do this. Always! They ask for volunteers and in my head I'm going ME ME ME but I never speak up. And, yeah, it sounds inconvenient, but in this particular case...my family and oldest friends are in NJ, so I'd probably end having a good time AND getting the Monopoly money.


Hmm… I may be naive due to my lack of international travel outside the US (not by choice! Hoping to finally go to Japan next year), but wow! Why were the flights overbooked so many times? I am know I am assuming here, but was it because it was an international flight? I have heard of people being offered vouchers to delay once, but dang, 3 days in a row!? Frequent fliers of the world, please enlighten me.

Beatrix Kiddo

@Toffamu I don't think it's because it's an international flight-- this happens for domestic flights too, usually around holidays. I imagine they overbook deliberately, because they expect some people won't show, so they're sure to fill all the seats, and also occasionally there are weather problems or other flights are canceled for unknown reasons, so then more people are re-booked on the next flight. But I don't understand why this happens so often, or how they make money off it if they have to give away so many vouchers!


@Beatrix Kiddo Ah, that does make sense, about the overbooking part! I didn't think of that. And I do wonder how they would make money off the vouchers, unless the tickets themselves are actually worth as much as we all pay them so somehow it all balances out overall? Well… I'm going to LA tomorrow morning, if my flight is delayed for some reason, hopefully I too can partake in the voucher funfest!


@Toffamu It's because airlines have, in the past few years, entered into this system in which they purposely try to run every flight as full as possible and prefer overbooking fewer flights than underbooking the number of flights they used to run. It was not always like this! It is one of the many reasons why air travel requires a steely stomach these days. (Or, perhaps, I have become an old codger?)


i have never properly profited from airline screwups, but sometimes it can weirdly turn into something fine and kinda fun. one time my connecting flight and a thousand others out of heathrow were cancelled, and they had so many people to put up for the night that they ended up putting me in some fancypants hotel/conference estate on the grounds of windsor castle, and the next day i was in the nice, new terminal of the airport all day while i waited for a spot on a flight. they just kept giving me meal vouchers, and i read long books and snacked all day with no guilt. which is kind of what i want out of a vacation anyway.


@plonk Also, that new terminal is awesome, and has an Accessorize, in which I can spend happy hours trying on scarves.

Hot Doom

@plonk I feel like booking useless flights out of heathrow just to see if this happens to me


@plonk I was once on a flight back to grad school after spring break with several other returning students. We missed our connecting flight due to a volcano erupting in Alaska, and the airline put us up in a hotel in Sacramento, where we spent the night playing drinking games. It was really fun, but it made for a very hungover early flight the next morning.


@plonk Yep, I missed my connection at Heathrow once (last flight of the day) and BA put me up overnight - while joking to the guy that I could 'spend an hour in London' the next morning, he said "Well, would you like an evening flight instead of a morning flight?" Presto, one day vacation in London magically tacked on to my Italian adventure!


I have a $400 voucher from volunteering once, but it was only to get rebooked on an alternate flight path the same day. I got one extra layover but lots of food vouchers and I only got into my destination about 20 minutes later than I would have otherwise.

etc etc

I tried to volunteer on my last flight, but they rejected me because it was too difficult for them to reschedule my flight to my final destination (Medford, OR!). Jerks. I will always mourn that missed $300 voucher.


I've gotten free money once. I was on a business trip coming back from Chicago to Boston and they started asking for volunteers who they would give a free hotel room and fly them out the next morning. I was on standby worried that if I didn't take it that I would just be stuck with no hotel room (note this is not true) Instead I waited and they gave me 800(!) dollars which was the maximum amount they could give me, its double what your ticket cost to a max of 800, at least for domestic.

I then left the airport to stay in my hotel, discovered they made the check out to my first name and the last name of the guy in front of me. This led to the next day running out of reagan airport through security to get a new check then heading back through security all during a 45 minute layover.

So basically instead of working on a Friday I got paid 800 bucks to sit around and read.


I got a $400 voucher once! But it was for a rinky dink airline that doesn't go anywhere useful at all (except for that one trip that I had to take that resulted in the voucher in the first place) and it ended up expiring because I couldn't find a way to use it without also spending lots of real money on a connecting flight and/or hotels. Sigh.


@Inconceivable! Unrelated but your avatar is the best ever.

(Do I mean avatar? I'm not sure that word means what I think it means..)


@katiethegreat Thank you! It is my favorite; I use it all over the internet.


But really, I would like to hear more about this "moving to Buenos Aires to learn Spanish/teach English" adventure. Because that sounds spiffy.


@JanieS I have a blog. It tends to be mostly about language and linguistics, but there are a few posts about my life in Buenos Aires. If you are so inclined: http://mashupmixup.blogspot.com

Oh, squiggles

Which is why my toiletries, charging cables, and spare underwear are always in my carry-on! And I've never even been offered these magical vouchers.


One time my flight home got cancelled due to mechanical issues, and all I got was the free hotel night & meal. The next flight sat on the tarmac for over an hour after boarding, so I missed my connecting flight, and I got offered frequent flier miles in recompense (which don't count in denominations less than millions). In the end I lost money because I was (am) paid hourly and missed an extra day of work.


Almost every flight I take is overbooked. I've never been able to take them up on the vouchers because I've had to get back home for work or whatever, but even so, I'm always torn between a) free travel money and b) this strong feeling of FUCK YOUUUUU, airline, you made the problem so you sort it out! The second-to-last flight I was on, they started out offering $300 vouchers, which went up to $500, and then someone took them up on it at $700? And then they had to ask someone to swap seats because the people coming on the flight had a cat in a little bag and couldn't sit in the exit row. The guy did, indeed, have a cat in a little bag, which he shoved under the seat in front of him. I was flabbergasted.

Also, I no longer travel with checked luggage after Alaska Airlines lost my bag twice. This is easier when traveling inside the US for periods of a week or less, probably not so practical if I ever leave the country again.

barefoot cuntessa

@frigwiggin Probably my proudest travel moment was packing for my honeymoon. We went to New York, Iceland, and Paris for two weeks, and I got aaaaaaaall my shit in a carry on. I think it reaffirmed my husband's love for me.


@barefoot cuntessa This is my dream. I did not achieve it when I went to Germany two years ago, but someday! Oh, someday. (Actually, I'll consider it a win if I visit my friend in Chicago in November without needing to check a bag. Dem winter coats, they are bulky...)


@frigwiggin I rarely check bags. Only on the way home if I've bought alcohol from out of the country or something. It's easier than you think! Everyone should do it.

Infinite Jess

The key to doing this is having a military dependent ID in an airport with a USO. Except you will have to hang out with the anxious kids who just got out of Basic and are being shipped to god knows where, while you are only munching on donated snacks that were meant for the troops because the USO desk workers didn't check the expiration date to see you're not a financial dependent of your dad anymore.

Infinite Jess

I have not ACTUALLY done this as a non-dependent. Just a few years ago, as a dependent who needed an updated ID.


@Infinite Jess still kind of awesome. Every time I go to the Atlanta airport (don't know why it's that more than others) I see so many young kids about to ship out and then want to cry.

Infinite Jess

@robyn.andrews Oh I know! One time I flew home for Thanksgiving while I was in college (this was 2010) and I was the only one sleeping on a cot in the women's sleeping room at the airport USO, which directly adjoins the men's sleeping room, where there were a bunch of teen dudes in camo trying to sleep before they shipped out. I could hear them through the wall, and one of them started crying because he was nervous, and they all comforted him but they were nervous too, so they all decided to do pushups together. (!!!)


When I was younger and did not understand the value of money, I would occasionally be on an overbooked flight and yet not volunteer. Ah, the follies of youth.

I am beginning to consider seeking out the companies whose policy it is to oversell the next time I fly.


@Melusina I know! Now when I travel I kind of need to be home by a specific time... and I'm not even old yet, I swear


1) I thought that given the quotation marks, this would be about attracting some dude named Rich. But I like how this turned out!
2) (Sorry if I'm creepy, but) I feel like maybe I know one of your tribe members, if J the German-cum-Canadian is Julia who taught me German in Halifax now doing her PhD in New York.
3) I used to travel with a change of clothes + all toiletries, but now just an extra sweater and all the creams and cleansers I have that come in 100ml-or-less sizes

a small sea

It’s this crazy loophole in the system that the wrong guy discovered. Guess where I won’t be going?

Lisa Ring

Fair warning! It depends on the airline n stuff, but sometimes you can't use the vouchers to pay for the taxes on the ticket. Which for an international flight can be hundreds of dollars.

So obv, getting to fly internationally for that cheap is great! Unless you don't have that money to spend. In which case you're stuck with vouchers (that typically have an expiration date) that you can't use.


@Lisa Ring I knew there had to be a bummer part of this epic idea, and I thought that it would be spelled "taxes." Not only that one has to pay taxes to use these, but that somehow the IRS would find out about them and tax them as "income."
If not someone is making a nice living from these overbookings. I can feel it.

and it's not even my birthday

I really thought this was going to be about Santos.


A person necessarily assist to make severely posts I would state. This is the first time I frequented your web page and up to now? I surprised with the analysis you made to create this actual put up incredible. Wonderful task! vigrx side effects


I saw a lot of website but I conceive this one holds something extra in it. vigrx plus coupon code


A person necessarily assist to make severely posts I would state. This is the first time I frequented your web page and up to now? I surprised with the analysis you made to create this actual put up incredible. Wonderful task! male enhancement reviews

Post a Comment

You must be logged-in to post a comment.

Login To Your Account