Today we're flying from Ottawa to Washington DC (this post is brought to you courtesy of Ottawa airport's free wifi!)
We arrived quite early for our United flight so we asked about getting on an earlier United flight (same airline) only to be told that it would cost us $120 each.
We were also told that it was too early to check in for our original flight. So we had lunch and a cup of coffee and came back. At which time we were told (by a different agent) that we could get on an earlier Air Canada flight (yes a different airline) for no charge. In fact, because Air Canada does not charge for checked bags, we're saving fifty bucks.
I actually do understand what's going on here. It's all about the check-in agent. One decided to be helpful and the other one didn't. Simple as that.