Continental Airlines Informative - Continental Costs Daughter Her Last Farewell
If a commercial airline were to book your vacation flight on the wrong day would you use them again? Mrs. Fran Kirkwood-Slye thought one mishap was acceptable and forgave them. What happened on her next flight cut through her heart like a dull rusty knife.
On February 24th, 2007 Mrs. Kirkwood-Slye booked her yearly flight from Dublin, Ireland to visit her father in Indiana. He had been in fairly good health for being 85. He lived with her brother and sister-in-law now, but was still active enough to ride along and help at the food back until he contracted pneumonia after Christmas 2006. Under his doctor's order he was moved to a Rehab facility in January 2007 when relesed from the hospital to gain back the strength the 2 week illness had cost him.
On April 19th she received a phone call stating her father that he had taken a turn for the worse and to fly home as soon as possible. Her father had moved back into the hospital with pneumonia once again, but this time the doctors concluded the treatments were not working and he was on his death bed. Despite Mrs. Kirkwood-Slye's getting over feeling ill herself she and he husband moved their booking up and got on the flight to the states. (Booking confirmation BKRJP6, DHTT4V)
Arriving in Newark, N.J. at 11:20 A.M. they had a long lay over until their flight to Indianapolis left at 3:20 P.M. They dreaded the long tiring wait, but were grateful they did not need to rush for a connecting flight at their age and in her present condition of high blood pressure, a heart condition, diabetes and just recovering from being ill from the flu.
As they entered the departure for their flight at Gate 96 they checked the board once more before sitting down. When the time drew near for their departure instead of calling Gate 96, the speaker announced that their flight to Indianapolis was now boarding at Gate 127! Mr. and Mrs. Slye state there was no previous speaker announcement the hour prior to the boarding announcement.
Although it was no easy task they ran, best they could, to Gate 127 in time to see people entering the boarding platform. Approaching the gate agent taking the boarding passes Mrs. Slye tried to inform her that they were on the Flight to Indianapolis. The woman "was very abrupt" and told the Slyes to sit on the chairs in the seating area nearby. They complied and did as instructed. A few minutes later the gate agent closed the door and hurried off. The Slyes looked around and thought perhaps Indianapolis had not yet boarded. Turning to the woman next to her Mrs. Slye asked if she were going to Indianapolis. No, she replied, she was going to Peru.
The Slyes thought they had better speak to a different Continental Representative and ask about Indianapolis' flight from Gate 127. They were told the flight had just left. It was the same flight they had tried to board and were told to "go sit down over there" by the gating agent !
After the initial shock and feeling of nausea left her from the realization of what had just occurred, Mr. and Mrs. Slye sought out Continental's Customer Service counter along with someone else who had missing the same flight for the same reason. The three explained what had happened. Mrs. Kirkwood-Slye also expressed concern that her prescription medication was in her checked bag on its way to Indianapolis without her.
Instead of empathy Continental's Customer Service Representative statedt it was their own fault they had missed the flight because they failed to hear about the change! If that were not bad enough Mrs. Slye was reprimanded for putting her medication into her checked baggage and told "Everyone knows you are suppose to keep your medicine in carry on bags!" Mrs. Kirkwood-Slye was made to feel far more ill than she already was trying to control her reaction to the highly unprofessional and rude behavior from several of Continental's employees. People who are paid
to provide a service for you and costing you hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars depending on the flight booked!
Eventually, after being told there was nothing to be done about this the Slye's were told to wait standby and see if they get on the 7:30 P.M. flight that was delayed (reason unknown by the Slye's) until 9:00 P.M. They were further instructed that if they could not get on that flight to
come back for a hotel voucher for the morning flight. The representative, when all was finished, arranged for an electric cart to take Mr. & Mrs. Slye to the standby gate where they waited.
As they waited they noticed that the flight to St. John's was changing gates. The pilot had verbally announced this change at the gate to those close enough to hear. Mrs. Slye kindly suggested to him that an announcement over the public address system would benefit those not within hearing distance of his voice. He then asked one of the Representatives to announce the change again over the loud speaker. Mrs. Slye witnessed a third gate change using the no speaker method and believes this practice is not isolated incidents.
Instead of arriving in Indianapolis at 5:44 P.M. to make the 3 hour drive that night to Mishawaka, they landed at 11:30 PM to ill from related to the upsets to drive that night. They rented a room in a motel and left early the next morning for South Bend. The Slyes thought the worse over, but they soon discovered her father slipped into a coma during the night. More painful was her sister in law's statement that "Dad said he was waiting until you got here last night despite his being in a lot of pain". He knew she was enroute from Dublin and would be arriving that evening and had been waiting for her to arrive.
Mrs. Slye's father never awoke from the coma. Nor did he show any sign (movement or sound) that would indicate that he knew she was there. On the 24th of April her father died. It haunts her that if only someone had announced the flight change on the Public Announcement System they would have been walking slowly onto the correct flight with the others boarding as they hurriedly approached the new gate instead of being told to "go sit over there" by the gate agent. She would have been be able to tell her father for the last time how much she loved him and hear his familiar voice repeat it back to her. Instead she heard multiple Continental Representative belittle her and blame her for their negligence!
The abuse does not end here. When she phoned to see if her flight back to Dublin was leaving on time she discovered Continental cancelled their flights back ! Upon calling reservations to inquire if there was a computer glitch she was told that because they did not notify Continental that they had indeed flown on the standby flight and they did not show up for the morning flight their flight was back was cancelled. Another upset under the worse of circumstances! Mrs. Slye inquired as to how does one know they are expected to this if the Customer Service Representative has not told you?
After another stressful round with an Continental employee the Slyes managed to get themselves and their luggage home to Ireland on time where she felt too ill and angry to send off her email letter of complaint to the ATTN of Continental's C.E.O., Larry W. Kellner.
On May 30th, she received a reply from one of Continental's Customer Care Managers, Melanie
Long, who shows more concern over Continental's procedural concerns as opposed to "challenges faced" on this trip. No apology or admission of wrong doing is a slap in the face to a body stilling hurting from wounds caused by unaccpetable rudeness and negligence, which unfortunately came at time she was most vulnerable. Mrs. Kirkwood-Slye feels a refund for the emotion pain and stress she has suffered for a lost opportunity that that can never be returned is justified and this office agrees.
Following is Continental Airline's corporate response to Mrs. Kirkwood-Slye's email detailing the horrors of the trip. [We have blocked out our clients ISP to maintain her personal privacy.]
Continental Airline Reply to Mrs. Kirkwood-Slye
Subject: RE: Attn: Larry W. Kellner, CEO
Date: 30 May 2007 12:26:30 -0500
Dear Ms. Kirkwood:
Thank you for taking the time to write to Mr. Kellner. I have been asked to respond on his behalf.
Let me begin by extending my most sincere condolences on the recent loss of your father. The circumstances of your travel struck quite a cord with me as recently lost my father too. My thoughts are indeed with you at this time.
It was disturbing to me to read about your experience at Newark Liberty International Airport. It is our usual practice to announce gate changes as well as display them on the departure boards. I deeply regret this was not what you observed.
I was also concerned that the gate agent in Newark did not update your reservation when you were cleared for standby on the flight to Indianapolis. Had this been done, your return flights would not have been cancelled due to your appearing to be a No Show for the Saturday morning flight to Indianapolis.
I have documented your comments in a detailed report which will be distributed to key senior management personnel both at Newark and here at our corporate headquarters. I am confident immediate steps will be made to ensure proper gate change announcements are made from this point forward.
Although I realize you have twice traveled with us and faced challenges, please know that the events you described are not representative of our usual standard of service. It is my hope that you will allow us to serve you again so that we can demonstrate our true commitment to customer service to you and Mr. Slye.
Thank you , Ms. Kirkwood, for both hour patronage and your input.
Customer Care Manager
TRACKING NUMBER: A00002964277-00017316231