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Luggage Bumped In Favor Of Stand-by Passengers
By -

I am a tour co-coordinator for a Canadian tour company and have been travelling by air for over 40 years. I understand in this day and age of high demand, shortage of baggage handlers and increased security that the airlines have a challenging job when it comes to handling luggage. But also, today, we have better means of communication like inexpensive toll free numbers, bar code technology, cell phones, websites and email. I can understand that luggage can be easily misplaced – it happens. What I cannot condone is the appalling lack of communication and training that seems to be the plague of the airline industry.

Considering the volume of luggage that is handled by the airlines, misplacing a piece of luggage is understandable – providing no information on its whereabouts is not. I can ship a parcel by almost any carrier and track its progress daily. Airlines for some unknown reason, have not embraced this technology and they should. On February 13th, 2008 we boarded Continental flight 288, connecting in Houston with flight 590 to Lima Peru along with our guests for this tour.

We warned them in advance to ensure that medication, spare glasses and some overnight things should be carried with them on board in the unlikely event that their luggage is delayed. The connecting flight, Continental flight #590 was not full so they took on a number of standby passengers, some of whom they accommodated by moving full-fare passengers around so they could all be seated together. Once we reached Lima, Peru, we were told that some of the luggage had to be removed from the hold because of the “weight and balance” of the aircraft. I can understand this – we all wanted to land safely.

What is inexcusable, however, is that the standby passengers got their luggage – a lot of luggage actually – and two members of our tour group did not. I have been through this many times before with other airlines so we did all of the required paperwork, noted all of the contact information and left for the hotel. As we did this, however, I noted that the baggage claim desk had a clip board with several pages of information related to misplaced luggage. I inquired and they said that luggage had also been removed from three previous flights and they were just arranging for it to be forwarded.

What I did not expect is that it would all be forwarded to Miami to be sorted and shipped by freight to its original destination. Next day I attempted to contact Continental with 1-800 number that they provided for me. This was not a toll-free number from Lima, Peru so I spent a great deal of time and money – mostly on hold – to be told that they were not sure where the luggage was at that moment. I tried the Continental website as recommended by their representative and they had the luggage registered but had no information on its whereabouts.

We had expected the luggage to arrive on the next flight but were told that luggage had been removed and not added to subsequent flights to Lima. Knowing that the Peruvians like to take the weekend off, I started to step up my inquiries making calls to the local agent and other contacts that I had at the airport. No one could tell me what was happening and even the long distance 1-800 information people had no knowledge of where the luggage was. Finally, we got word that it had been shipped to Miami and would be forwarded to Lima the next day – still no information on the website.

Remember, we left Vancouver on Wednesday. It is now Sunday, four days later, and Continental was still unsure about when it would get to the airport in Lima and the local airport didn't have a clue either. A pallet of luggage finally arrived from Miami just before midnight on Sunday. We were leaving for Cusco, Peru at 7:00 am so I had a friend hustle over to the Airport at 4:00 am to pull the luggage from the pallet and get it to the hotel in time for our domestic flight to Cusco.

There are two issues here. One is that luggage was removed indiscriminately giving the impression that Continental accommodated paying standby customers at the expense of passengers that had pre-booked and paid full fare. So while the shareholders got a nice bonus this year, the paying customers had their luggage sent to Miami to be shipped five days later by freight to the original destination. The other issue is with communication. With all the modern technology available in today's world of electronics, Continental failed to provide information that would have given their paying customers peace of mind.

Knowing exactly what was happening with their luggage would have given great comfort to those who have had it misplaced. Every day of our inquiries were met with some vague promise of delivery that afternoon or the next day. For me, as a tour co-coordinator, just having a local number to call for updates would have relieved a lot of stress. For those at Continental's baggage information center, having information to provide for their passengers would probably have cut the number of follow-up calls in half.

From the in-flight magazine, the smiling face of “Larry”, the CEO, invites your comments and provides three lines on a post card for the detail – hardly an endorsement for any meaningful input. On their website, the Customer First document is full of platitudes like “commitment to service”, “leader in the industry” etc. and looks like it was written by an MBA right out of college. This document claims that Continental strives to return checked bags within 24 hours but neglects to mention that, for international flights, the luggage is forwarded to Miami and then on to its original destination by freight carrier, USUALLY within five day – a bit of a stretch from 24 hours.

It also fails to mention that the “toll free” numbers provided are not toll free at all when calling from outside of North America and there is no warning that you could be on hold for as long as ten minutes before getting information or the lack thereof. In the Customer First document, they talk about full disclosure. If they are serious about full disclosure, they would disclose the possibility that their paying customers could have their luggage removed to accommodate standby passengers who pay more than what it costs them to freight misplaced luggage all over the globe.

If you examine their Contract of Carriage document, you will discover that the Customer Care toll free at 800.WE.CARE2 is toll free from North America only, presumably they are not interested in the comments of international travellers. Through this number, you will not reach anyone that is equipped to provide information regarding Continental's policy of dealing with delayed luggage destined for international locations.

If this were an isolated case, I would not have bothered to post this information. Since this experience, however, I have talked to friends and colleagues and discovered to my surprise that other Continental passengers have experienced the same dilemma, even within the U.S.A.

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Rude Flight Attendant
By -

MASSACHUSETTS -- Flight originated in Honolulu, HI with a destination of Newark, NJ. Departed HI at 9:35 pm Hawaii time and flight was 9.5 hours. I was seated in 35F. A young girl in seat 35E and her mother in seat 35D. Flight was 9 hours and I repeatedly was awakened by the thrashing of the sleeping girl. She would hit and kick me in her sleep. Several times I would wake with her face buried in my left arm, her face on my lap or both her feet on my lap. I had woken her mother twice to have her daughter sit up but this was of no help.

I contacted a flight attendant and explained to her the problem. I then asked her if she could please ask the mother to switch seats with her daughter. The flight attendant looked at the mother and daughter and very sarcastically said, "They're sleeping. I'm not waking them up!" and walked off. I was both shocked and very frustrated as I had not gotten very much sleep sitting next to someone who continually hit and kicked me while I tried to sleep! I tried to get the flight attendant's name so that I could include it here in my complaint but her hair was covering her name badge. She was of Asian descent and wore no glasses.

I submitted my complaint to CA asking for the company to address this situation with the attendant so that this isn't repeated. The flight attendant was both rude and unprofessional to me and this behavior towards passengers is not appropriate. A 4 weeks later I received the following email (in quotations):

"Thank you for contacting Continental Airlines. I apologize for the delay in responding to you. Our email volume has been heavy and we are catching up as quickly as possible. I was very sorry to read that you had such an unpleasant experience on your return flight from Honolulu to Newark Liberty on September 18, 2007. I understand your frustration and I apologize."

"While your request of the flight attendant was not part of her required duties, certainly she could have handled the situation better, as there is no excuse for rudeness from any Continental employee. Our employees are expected to treat passengers with dignity and respect at all times. I regret that this was not your experience. I have forwarded an internal Customer Care report regarding this, to the management personnel responsible for review and corrective action. I am confident that every effort will be made to identify the flight attendant and address the issue with her."

"For future reference, if you ever have situation like this occur again, you are more than welcome to change seats as long as the seat belt sign is not let. I did check flight 14 and found that there were empty seats on the flight. Thank you for choosing Continental Airlines. You are a valued customer and your business is appreciated."

I replied to the email stating that I appreciated forwarding the Customer Care report regarding this matter and that I would appreciate a follow up as to the corrective action and identification of the flight attendant in this matter. A few days later I received the following email (quotations):

"Unfortunately due to privacy laws we do not disclosed any corrective actions taken with our employees and we will not be able to get back with you concerning this matter. The corrective action taken will depend upon the service record of the employee, and it is up to her supervisor as to what will be done. Again, thank you for writing. Please accept our sincere apology for the circumstances you described. Your comments are appreciated since this is one of the best ways we have of knowing which areas need additional attention. We hope you will continue to make Continental your airline of choice."

To cap, I don't know if I'd fly Continental Airlines again. I'm not sure if it's not worth flying with an airline who just emails their customers an apology and where there is no way for the customer to know if anything has been really done to correct the matter. What assurances can a customer expect that this employee will be addressed regarding the matter? I really have no way of knowing when told that I would not have anyone to get back to me on this matter.

It would be nice to receive an apology from the flight attendant who was rude to me to begin with, but I know that won't ever happen. Which is why I wish more airlines would consider hiring people not only qualified to do their job but folks who also have a friendly personality. I can assure you that this flight attendant was in no way friendly to me.

I do hope that this employee is told to behave more appropriately. Also, if this type of situation occurs, the flight attendant could've suggested a move instead of being rude. I didn't know I could've requested another seat. If the flight attendant had told me I could have changed seats, I would've done so immediately! Instead, I had to deal with her rude behavior.

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Bad customer service/Bad flight/Bad everything!
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WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA -- I have frequently visited this page and felt the need to share my horrible experience with Continental that ended today. I am a recent college grad and moved from Cleveland to South Florida. I wanted to go home for Thanksgiving, so I bought a ticket a couple of months before Thanksgiving to avoid a high price. I have a small dog that I wanted to bring home so I called Continental to bring him as an in-cabin pet. I had purchased a travel bag for him that was the exact dimensions that Continental had on their website that pets must be in. When I called on 11/15 and they said it would be a $190 dollar charge, which was fine.

They checked to see if there was room (bc only a limited number of animals can fly) and they ran my credit card over the phone. They also assigned me aisle seats on my arriving and departing flights. After they ran my credit card, they told me that pets must be under 10 lbs. Well, my dog is 13 lbs, but he fit well within the specified dimensions. There is also nothing on the website about the weight limit for pets. I asked if he would be OK to fly and they said it was up to me but there was a chance he wouldn't fly. The lady was sort of rude, but I figured whatever, her job sucks so I let it go.

I thought about it for a couple days and I decided to just board my dog instead of risking it on Continental bc if we didn't get on the flight, I was going to miss Thanksgiving with my family. So I called on 11/17 and told them that I was cancelling my pet's ticket bc I thought it was too risky and I wanted to make sure I was not preventing someone else from boarding a pet. The lady was very nice, definitely elderly, and I was happy to learn they would refund the $195, although I thought it was strange they would be mailing it to me instead of putting it back on my VISA. A few more days pass and it is Tuesday 11/20 and I leave the next day.

I am packing and then I think about my reserved aisle seats and hope that I didn't lose those bc I cancelled my pet's reservation. So I call Continental and speak to this nasty woman who tells me my ticket has been cancelled and they are giving me a refund and that is all she will tell me. She is incredibly rude and talks over me when I tell her that I never cancelled my ticket. All she offers to do for me is to rebook my ticket. I keep saying "No, I don't need my ticket rebooked. I need my cancelled ticket to be reinstated". There is no way I was going to pay for another ticket two days before Thanksgiving.

I ask for her manager, she puts me on hold for 15 minutes and hangs up on me. I call back and get a polite man, who tells me that he sees that I had only cancelled my pet's reservation but for some reason, my entire reservation has been cancelled. He puts me on hold to see if he can get me reinstated. After almost half an hour, he tells me the good news that my ticket has been reinstated and the $195 would be going back on my VISA. I was so happy bc I really thought I was going to get screwed by Continental. Fast forward to my flight, I of course get a middle seat bc that is all that was left when my ticket got reinstated, but I can deal.

On the way back to FLorida, I sit in a two-seat section and the seat next to me is empty. This is perfect because I am exhausted. Right before takeoff, a flight attendant tells me that someone's seat is broken and she will need to sit a gentlemen in the seat next to me. I prefer aisle so I get up to let the person in and it is seriously a 400-pound man. I give the attendant a dirty look but I don't want to look like a jerk so I let the guy in. HE can't fit the divider down and he is halfway in my seat. I try to sit down, but the only way I can sit down is if I am fully turned in the aisle and even then I can feel his fat against my back.

It was so uncomfortable and the attendants kept banging the drink cart in to me, but I seriously could not move in. To make it worse, he was sweating and had body odor. I finally land and figure I will just sleep everything off. SO I wait almost two weeks for my refund (I was told I would have it in 3-7 days). I call today to see where it is. The main reservation line says that they will have to transfer me to the refund department. The first lady says she shows it was refunded already and to call my credit card company. I say no, and she abruptly puts me on hold and then hangs up on me.

I call the reservation line again to be transferred (bc I didn't write the refund line # down) and the girl tells me she cannot transfer me bc it is an 800 number and acts like a snot when I tell her I was just transferred. At this point, I am sick of these stupid Continental games so I tell her she's a moron and that it sucks to have her job, and hang up. Not very mature, I know.

I call the reservation line again and am transferred again to a polite girl who sees that there is a refund request in the system as of 11/17, it has just not been processed. Of course not, why would it be? She says she will make sure it is processed today so we will see if I get it back on my visa in the next couple of weeks. But I will definitely never fly Continental again after that headache.

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Continental Airline Misfortune
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AUSTIN, TEXAS -- The vice president of our company was on her way to attend a function with first lady Laura Bush when something very unfortunate happened. I've heard of luggage being lost between flights or searched for security reasons, but never a carry-on being removed without informing the passenger, and then the carry-on seeming to disappear completely. Please read Ms. Malik's account of what happened and how Continental Airlines was able to misplace a carry-on filled with valuables so carelessly.

Continental Airlines recently lost a bag of mine filled with irreplaceable possessions. This bag was a carry-on -- not checked, a carry-on -- bag and was moved without my knowledge or permission from the overhead bin. No one has seen the bag since.

This took place on my way to Rhode Island to attend the graduation ceremonies for members of the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women. Due to the formal
nature of the events, I had packed some good clothes and jewelry and decided to take everything in one carry-on. The space in the overhead compartment above my seat was taken so a flight attendant helped me stow my bag a in an overhead compartment a few rows away.

After the plane was taxiing on the runway, I was informed that the Continental staff had moved my bag -- supposedly to the lower storage area of the plane. In order to find whose bag it was, the Continental staff had gone into my suitcase and from my purse they got my return ticket and my name! Yet they did not have enough sense to at least give me my purse or to see if I needed anything (such as my medication) or wanted anything (such as my jewelry) from the bag. Although they knew from my ticket that I had a connecting flight in New Jersey, they still didn't gate check my bag, which would have allowed me to retrieve it upon exiting the plane to make my connection to Providence. Instead, they told me that they had checked it all the way through to Providence and handed me a handwritten number. Unsurprisingly, the bag vanished, along with my jewelry.

This is the most bizarre action I've ever known an airline to take with respect to a passenger's carry-on luggage, and may well be the most egregious case of airline carelessness you have heard.

Still, it doesn't stop here. Now Continental is claiming no responsibility and have retained Fulbright and Jaworski to fight me. They asked for receipts of all items over $100 which I told them I did not have, so -- per their request and suggestion -- I supplied them with credit card statements and personal letters from store managers who have records of my purchases. I thought that Continental had agreed to honor this information, but absolutely nothing came of it.

They took entirely unnecessary, unapproved, unilateral action over which I had no control and which directly resulted in the loss of my property. There was nothing I could have done to prevent this, and now they choose to pay exorbitant legal fees rather than compensate me for the loss they caused.

I've been looking into the airline regulations behind which Continental is shielding itself, which led me to the folks at the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in Washington, D.C. Through speaking to them, I found out about Kate Hanni and the coalition she has founded. Please log onto http://www.fliersrights.org/ and sign the petition if you agree with what we are proposing. If you are in Washington on the 18th of this month please join us at the "Strand-In".

Unless something like this happens, little do we realize how the airlines have us cornered. I learned the hard way. No one should
have to go through this.

Please help pass the word around to all you know...many, many thanks!

--
Anjum Malik
House of Tutors
p: 512-472-6666
f: 512-478-2632
e: a.malik@houseoftutors.edu
c: 512-799-5044

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Uncomfortable First Class Seating
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SEATTLE, WASHINGTON -- On June 17th, I boarded Continental flight 1457 from Cleveland to Seattle. The flight duration was 4 hours and 25 minutes. I had purchased with miles and cash a first class ticket. The aircraft type was a Boeing 737/800 series. My seat was 5B, which is the last row in first class. Every seat in first class was taken. Once in the air, I attempted to recline my first class seat, but realized quickly that the seat didn't recline all the way, inhibited by the wall (bulkhead) directly behind my seat. I brought this to the attention of the first class flight attendant. She told me that this row (5) didn't used to be there, but they had been added at some recent date, (date unknown). However, every other seat in first class appeared to full recline fully, with the exception of seat 5A to my left, which also did not recline more than 2 to 3 inches.

In the course of the 4 hour and 25 minute flight, my back started to ache terribly. I was forced to get up to seek relief and stand in the aisle for about an hour. I asked the flight attendant for aspirin pain reliever medication. Upon my arrival in Seattle, I got my baggage and departed the airport for home. The next morning, my back was terribly sore and ached badly. I decided to wait a few days to see if my back would return to normal - it did not.

On Wednesday June 20th, I called Continental Airlines (1-800-wecare2), and instead of having someone who would listen to my story with a sympathetic ear, I was treated coldly and matter of factly. After I explained my situation, the man on the other end started to explain things that didn't make sense to me. And when I started to speak to correct this man of what he thought had occurred, I was told by him to stop, and to let him explain. I then corrected him as to what he had thought had occurred. He then put a Continental employee (Miss Lane - located in Houston). She was unsympathetic to my story, and kept asking me what I wanted in the course of the conversation, and then offered me 3,000 miles to be added to my account. Hardly the compensation that I wanted to hear. I told her that I may have to see a chiropractor, and if that was the case I would seek a personal injury lawyer due to the cost associated with having to go to a chiropractor. She then told me to contact risk management at Continental Airlines, and to give them incident number 331-3066.

To close, Continental Airlines appears to want to listen to comments and or complaints and make changes and improvements to the system, but when communicating with them, they appear cold and uncaring. I feel that the 3,000 miles offered to me as compensation were a slap in my face. If this is the way Continental Airlines treats its customers, then they are bound to fail over time as a reputable airline carrier.

I do not know the outcome of my situation, but I may have been sustained a back injury in the process.

Thank You.

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Overbooking flights and "restricting" tickets
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HOUSTON, TEXAS -- I was very excited about the trip I had planned to LA. I had recently had a baby and it was my first break away from all the hard work that goes with a newborn and to be a part of my best friend's wedding. I booked a flight on Continental to LAX which departed at 5:55 p.m. At 4:26 p.m., I checked in online and was issued an e-ticket boarding pass. When I checked in, my advance seat assignment was no longer available and the Continental system would not allow me to select a new seat assignment. Instead, my boarding pass listed, “check-in at gate”. Unfortunately, I left my e-ticket boarding pass on the printer.

Little did I know this would prevent me from attending my best friend's rehearsal dinner. At 5:20, I walked up to the Continental skycap with my small roller bag and asked if there was still time to check my bag. He stated it wouldn't be a problem checking my bag, but that I wouldn't be getting on the flight because my ticket was “restricted”. I asked why and he said "you better talk to an agent." After unsuccessfully trying to reprint my boarding pass at the kiosk, I waited in line for a Continental ticketing agent who stated that my ticket was “restricted”. When I asked why she said I did not check in properly.

I explained that I did, that it would surely be reflected in the system, and that I simply needed a reprint of my e-ticket boarding pass so I could continue through security to the boarding area for my seat assignment. She restated that no, because I had not been assigned a seat, my check-in was incomplete and I was “restricted” from the flight. After a pointless conversation trying to understand why my ticket was “restricted” when I was issued a boarding pass an hour earlier, I implored if there were any other alternatives. She reluctantly picked up the phone, called the gate agent, and asked if they could lift the restriction. I was told no.

I then walked over to a “red coat” supervisor (**) and explained my frustration with the situation. She looked at her watch and asked me if I thought I could still make it to the gate. I became hopeful. She then tried to reprint a boarding ticket but explained that she was “locked out” because it was 15 minutes prior to departure. After another non-productive discussion trying to understand why I was being penalized for checking in online an hour and a half before the flight, she told me that the next flight at 7:15 was oversold by 15 and that she could put me at the bottom of the list.

I asked why I couldn't be put at the top of the standby list because I was still unclear what terms of my ticket I had not met that they could arbitrarily “restrict” me from flying on the full fare ticket I had paid for. She said no, that it was Continental's policy not to put passengers ahead on the standby list – that I would be placed on the list according to the current time, approximately 5:50 (versus the original time I had checked in at 4:26). I was finally given a reprint of a boarding pass so I could continue through security. Instead of interrupting a gate agent with my predicament, I proceeded over to the Continental Customer Service booth.

I explained the entire situation to a very unsympathetic woman who reiterated that they could not give me priority on the standby list (or credit for the original 4:26 check in time that I had) and that I would have to go at the bottom of the list. I was on the verge of tears when the woman next to her, **, asked if she could maybe help. She called a ** and confirmed for me that all my information was in their system – that I had checked in online at 4:26, that I was not issued a seat because the flight was oversold and that I tried to get a reprint of my boarding pass 30 minutes prior to departure.

She then called the gate agent working the 7:15 flight and asked, “Can you squeeze one in on #47?” The answer was no, there was nothing Continental could do for me and I was relegated to missing my best friend's rehearsal dinner. By the time I made it over to the gate for the 7:15 flight, I heard a couple of names called on the standby list and the gate was locked down for departure. I waited several minutes and then explained my saga to another “red coat” supervisor who was working gate E20. She admitted that she could not state a specific term or policy I did not meet that justified my ticket being “restricted”.

She also stated that she was “surprised” the first agent did not just override the restriction and issue me a boarding pass so I could pass through security and on over to the boarding area. My point exactly. I asked if Continental would issue me a voucher for my horrible travel experience and devastation that I had now missed a very special event in my life. She said that only the people on Continental's “Customer Care” phone line could do that.

Ironically, my husband (at home with our children and my printed boarding pass in his hand) had already been on the phone for at least an hour with “Customer Care” who told him that Continental was justified in restricting my ticket and that I was not entitled to a voucher or any sort of compensation from them. In complete contradiction with the gate agent, they also stated that only “red coat” supervisors could issue travel vouchers if there was a problem with my travel plans. Needless to say, the whole experience was horrible and I was devastated I had missed a very important event.

When I tell this story at dinner parties and such, people always ask, “So did Continental send you a letter apologizing… a travel voucher… some air miles?” And the answer is "no, they never even acknowledged the complaint." What stellar “Customer Care”.

It's too bad United Airlines does not have a bigger presence in Houston because a few weeks later I went to check in for a United Airlines flight at one of their kiosks and the message was simple and honest, “We cannot give you a seat assignment at this time because this flight is oversold. We are requesting volunteers to make alternate travel arrangements. Please see a gate agent if you are interested.” Besides all the heartache of my travel experience with Continental, I was especially insulted by how dishonest they were with me. If you have a choice to fly, fly with an honest airline.

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Don't Fly This Airline
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NEWARK, NEW JERSEY -- This charge for the change fee of $100 is the last insult that I will endure from your airline. If appropriate steps are not taken to rectify this situation, I will never utilize your airline again. Let me put in writing for you the events that occurred which led up to the charges that I incurred. I was on a Continental flight from San Francisco to Newark connecting to flight 94 to Belfast Ireland on Tuesday April 17th 2007. Due to a tragic medical emergency my flight from San Francisco was diverted to Cleveland Ohio to care for the stricken passenger. I expected that I would miss my flight and that Continental would put me on another flight to Belfast.

When we finally arrived at Newark International, the flight attendants told me that the Belfast flight had been held for us and that there would be a cart waiting to transport myself and another passenger to the gate. The flight attendants held all passengers from deplaning so that we could exit and there was a cart waiting to transport us. I was so impressed with the service that had been provided to both the stricken passenger and now to myself that I thought I had finally found an airline that cares about its customers. Unfortunately that was not the case.

I arrived at the gate of the Belfast flight to find that the plane was there but that the door to the gate had been closed. I tried to explain to the Continental employee that I had been told that the flight had been held for us. She told me that "you do not hold flights" and that “once I close the door I never open it”. I said "the plane has not left, can't we please get on the flight?" and she then said “maybe you didn't hear me, once the door is closed it will not be opened”. I watched the plane push back for the gate flabbergasted. The Continental employee then said "go to customer service at gate 130" and walked away.

I went to customer service and stood in line for 45 minutes. There were three agents handling many weather delayed passengers. At 10 PM one of the continental agents said "you must all go to customer service at gate C1, we are closed." The passenger in front of me became very irate and asked if we would have the same positions in line at the customer service station at the other gate, at which point the continental employee did not respond. We (the 12 passengers still in line) asked to see a supervisor. The three customer service agents closed their kiosks and walked away with no response to us. I was flabbergasted.

So I headed off to customer service at gate C1. When I arrived at customer service there were approximately 45 customers in line. After waiting in line for 10 minutes one of the Continental employees shouted “all passengers standing behind the women holding up the paper (she was about 15 positions ahead of me) will not be helped here. We are closing when we are finished with that customer. The rest of you must go to baggage claim." I am now completely exasperated, but my adventure is just beginning. I arrive at customer services in baggage claim and wait in line for 20 minutes and finally get to speak one on one with a Continental customer service agent.

I begin to tell her how we were diverted, how I missed my flight to Ireland and asked her to assist me with rebooking my flight. She told me that they did not have computers to rebook flights in baggage claim. I then asked her why was I sent there, she told me it was to get my food and hotel voucher. I was beside myself, I have received poor treatment by airlines before, but this was beyond belief. She proceeded to provide me with the vouchers for food and accommodations at the Holiday Inn in Edison NJ. I then took the airport tram to the parking garage to catch a shuttle for the hotel. No shuttle was ever sent, it was now 12:30 AM.

Two other passenger and I decided to go back to the terminal and take a cab to the hotel. It turns out that Edison NJ was a $50 cab ride from the airport. I could have taken a cab to Manhattan for less money. Once at the Holiday Inn, we were finally treated well and they actually had hot food available for us to purchase with our vouchers. I do not know whether you have ever had a stressful day with only a continental coach seat chicken sandwich as your only food for the entire day, we really appreciated what the Holiday Inn provided. I highly recommend that you send your customer service agents to the Holiday Inn for training.

Now safely in my hotel room I call Continental airlines to see if I can get a flight the next day. The agent states that I am rebooked on the same flight to Belfast the next night. I ask her for my seat assignment. She say I do not have one because the flight is oversold by nine seats and they will need to accommodate those nine passengers first before they can accommodate the 12 passengers who have missed the flight of which I am one. Please keep in mind that my reason to go to Ireland is to see my godson ** play rugby for the US under 19 national team that next evening. If I do not make that flight then I will miss his game.

I ask if they can rebook me on another airline and I am told that I can only do that at customer service at the airport, they cannot rebook me over the phone onto another airline. I am in disbelief at this. I have been turned away twice by the only people that could have helped me. I asked the phone agent if there were any business or first class seats available on the flight. They said that there in only business first and that there is a seat available but that they cannot give it to me. She calls her supervisor and tells me that I can have the seat for an additional $900.

Seeing my godson play was the most important thing in the world to me so I gave my credit card and purchased the upgrade. When I returned from Ireland today, I checked my email to find the upgrade charge and a charge for an additional $100 for changing my flight. Are you people out of your minds? This is the worst experience I have ever had from any airline or service provider of any kind. I insist that you refund me the $100 change flight fee instantly, and if you ever want to have me as a customer again, I highly suggest that you credit the $900 upgrade fee as well.

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Continental Airlines NOT Family Friendly
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ATLANTA, GEORGIA -- This past Friday (4/20) my daughter and I flew Continental from Atlanta to Houston. My mother had actually purchased the tickets some time ago, but a month before the flight she realized one of tickets was under her name instead of mine. She called the airline and had the name corrected. No worries.... um... wrong. The itenerary confirmed only one of the seats. It didn't occur to me what had happened until we checked in the morning of the flight. The boarding pass indicated that we needed to check with the ticket counter at the gate for seating arrangements.

We checked with the ticketing agent at the counter once getting through security. I told her there was a problem with our tickets and that we needed to sit together. My daughter is 9... old enough to be somewhat independent but still a child. She took our tickets and told us to wait for her to call us. We watch the plane board... everyone boarded except a handful of other people. They call us up and give us our tickets. We were 2 rows apart. This situation was a little unnerving for us... I really didn't expect that they would seat us apart. Here's the punchline... when I voiced my concern to the ticketing agent she told me that I could ask the other paasangers to trade seats. Um, well, don't we pay the airlines to take care of this stuff? Why do I have to ask? Then she tells me that if I cry, that will help get us a seat together. I AM NOT KIDDING. The agent actually told me to cry to play on passanger sympathy. I'm sure she thought she was helping, but it came off very insulting. So my daughter and I sat apart during the flight. Upon reflection, I took responsibility for not checking my itenerary beforehand and trying to get the problem corrected before getting to the airport.

Sunday (4/22) my daughter and I returned from Houston to Atlanta on Continental. Again, we had only one confirmed seat and a note to check with the ticketing agent. This time my daughter was upset, and not feeling well. We checked with the ticketing agent at the counter once getting through security. My daughter was visibly upset, and the ticketing agent tried to reassure her that everything was okay. I explained to the agents that she was not feeling well. Again they took our tickets. This time EVERYONE, and I mean EVERYONE boarded the plane before they called us. We received our tickets, with seats 6 rows apart. There was not one hint that the agents attempted to help or even cared about our situation.

This really is the straw to break the camel's back for me regarding Continental. We had one other incident over the Christmas holidays where my daughter flew as a minor alone. The check in agents failed to enter my husband's name as the person meeting my daughter at the gate. When he arrived they would not allow him through security, until after the plane had landed and they checked the chain of custody form (his name was clearly on the form). Even after the mistake was realized there was no apology, no escort through security, and my daughter waited 40 minutes at the terminal for him to get there.
I even filed a complaint regarding the issue and there was no response from the company, not even an apology.

For me, if they want to bump my flight, seat me in the worst seat, make me wait, I can deal with almost anything. But don't mess with my child.

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Overcharging consquences hurt consumers
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CALIFORNIA -- I was recently overcharged by Continental Airlines, early March 2007. It impacted my finances to the point where I was left broke for a while. An additional $100 was deducted from my checking account that I did not authorize (a result of being charged TWICE for a fee, bad processing on Continental's part). While it didn't alter my life to the point of homelessness or starvation, it put me in a financial bind. I had to borrow money and rearrange funds to avoid an insufficient funds charge from my bank...and I didn't have access to money I budgeted and relied on for my expenses.

They admitted to the problem and promised the money back in 24 hours.

The money was not returned after 24 hours and so I called back and was told another 48 hours. 48 hours passed and nothing yet. It took a week to get my money back. It took close to 1.5 hours on the phone combined with the three calls I made to get clarity on this issue. Bottom line Continental took my money without my permission and was misinformed by Customer Service that I would get it back quickly.

This link below is almost an identical situation with Continental. I was amazed to see it happened last year and nothing was done to prevent it (at least not told)

http://www.my3cents.com/showReview.cgi?id=14750

Yes it was a mistake on their part...but in a way it's stealing...isn't it?!! In situations like this Continental should expedite a refund.

I did send a formal complaint and a recommendation that they review their processes to prevent similar mistakes and refunding procedures when it's their fault. I did this via e-mail and I did get a response. It was one paragraph giving an apology stating that they do have a process. Well isn't that so...it doesn't work!

NO MENTION or ACKNWOLEDGEMENT that what happened was wrong and that they will at least review this incident to improve their service.

I was upset because this meant more than just the money. Continental is a mega-airline that yields millions if not billions of dollars. I didn't want to let it go without a fight. I don't think any of us should either...especially given the other review I noted above experienced the same situation. Here is their response to my forst formal complaint, followed my second response.

CONTINENTAL: "Mr. Nunez,
Thank you for your email, I do apologize for any inconvenience that Continental may have cause you. Mr. Nunez a refund was requested for you account on March 20 2007 for $100.00. We do apologize, but there is a process that we have to follow. We are sorry to hear that Continental will not be your first choice whenever you decide to travel. Hopefully you will reconsider traveling with Continental again.

Regards,

Gwen Brown
Customer Care Manager

TRACKING NUMBER: A00002799277-00016315036"

ME: "I will not reconsider returning to Continental after my experience with this reservation. To see that you apologize, BUT resort to saying it's a process you have to follow is not customer service. In the real world, you pay interest or you offer something of worth to remedy a hardship you caused on a PAYING CUSTOMER. Additionally, the fact that Continental didn't even note that they would look at their procedures to ensure similar situations are prevented is unfortunate and upsetting.

Clearly the efforts I went to to obtain my money back from not having it in my bank account as a result of Continental's mistake is too insignificant to warrant such a response. Therefore I will take my business and customer service expectations elsewhere. "

It just makes me so upset.

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Open Letter to Continental Airlines
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Dear Customer Care,

I truly hope that something is done regarding the poor level of service and the lies I was told regarding my reservations I made on 15 March 2007.

Early that morning, I had been informed that my grandfather had passed away. Not more than an hour later, I tried to book flights for myself, my husband, my brother, his son, and my step-brother to fly to Florida from Newark to attend the funeral. Having a bit of trouble, I called Continental, where I reached an agent who told me to buy the tickets online because she would have to charge me more if I went through her. Although she was helpful, she did not give me the bereavement discount that you can only obtain by phoning Continental (your Web site clearly states this on this page:

http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/travel/specialneeds/compassion

I never received an email receipt with the itinerary to send to my siblings and husband letting them know our information, so I called Continental. The person, whose name wasn't given, LIED to me and told me that the reason why I hadn't received an email was due to security reasons. My "pending" credit card, she LIED, was tied up with some department that had gone home for the day. She LIED and said that there was nothing she could do. I replied that I had made the reservation in the morning and that it didn't make sense to me. She said that all the orders go into a queue, and that they had a huge volume of calls, etc. I then requested a supervisor whose name is Ms. Mizami, who continued to LIE to me about why my purchase was pending. Ms. Mizami also LIED and refused to name the service rep who transferred me to her. She LIED and said "I don't know."

I wasted more than 40 minutes of my time on the phone with your customer service people who LIED to me. I called American Express to find out what the problem was, and it was very simple. I had used one of my cards that didn't reach the credit limit needed to purchase the tickets.

Why couldn't your people have told me that right off the bat? Why did you have to LIE to me? Why did I have to go through so much grief in the middle of my mourning? It was incredibly bad service.

Do you know how you were caught in your big LIE? After I called Continental back and requested to change the method of payment to another of my cards that more than met the limit, this same day mind you, my itinerary showed up in my email box not even 1 hour later.

You should be honest with your customers. If there's an issue with the credit card, tell them. I was so upset by the prospect of not being able to be there to participate in the religious burial of my grandfather that I broke down in tears on the phone with your service agent -- Ms. Mizami, the one who continued the lie.

I have been a loyal Continental customer for a long time, even through other bad service experience. However, this is just too much to just take without writing a letter. I was treated very poorly by your organization during one of the worst days of my life, and I won't forget it.

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Continental Airlines Rating:
112 reviews & complaints.
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Continental Airlines
1600 Smith St.,34th Fl - HQSCR
Houston, TX 77002
800-525-0280 (ph)
www.continental.com
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