Normally, I sing the praises of Continental Airlines. After all, they’re the best of the legacy carriers when it comes to in-flight service. I recently wrote an article in the Solid Cactus print magazine, eBiz Insider, about a Continental event I attended with 500 other top frequent flyers. Today, I’m complaining.
Friday night (3/27/09) I was flying from AVP to EWR then EWR to FLL. The first leg of the trip was delayed from 7:05pm to 7:54pm. We managed to leave about 10 minutes ahead of time, however, we ended up in a holding pattern as we approached EWR. We landed at 8:25pm and had 15 minutes left before our 8:45pm flight closed. When we got off the plane, the awaiting gate agent told us the flight was closed, go to customer service. So, instead of waiting in line at the customer service counter, we headed to the President’s Club to get some help.
The lovely ladies working the desk called the gate, told them we were coming, got us an electric cart and got us to the door of the plane right before it closed. As we were entering the plane, the male flight attendant gave me a cocky look, shook his head back and forth and prompted me to blurt out “Don’t you shake your head at me!” As we turned to grab our seats in first class, the first class flight attendant looked at me and said “I just gave your seats away.” She said this as husband and wife were stuffing their bags in their overhead getting ready to sit in our seats. I asked her to “kick them out” which she wouldn’t do and told us to take any empty seat in coach. I couldn’t let this opportunity to pass without wishing the happy couple in 2A and 2B a nice flight.
So back in coach we went.
Here’s the part that pisses me off. The crew knew that we were on a connection that was late, they knew we were in the airport and even got a call from the Presidents Club letting them know we were on the way. They still proceeded to give away our first class seats. Bullshit! Then I’m met with an attitude by the male flight attendant.
The one thing that made me happy during the flight was that the one flight attendant who was pleasant, knew of the circumstances responsible for the pissed off look on my face and didn’t charge us for drinks, since we wouldn’t have paid for them in first. After all, having to sit through a 3 hour flight watching “High School Musical 3” requires a LOT of liquid entertainment.
So we landed in FLL on time and headed home to Palm Beach. A telephone call to Continental at 2am did not result in much satisfaction. The representative wouldn’t issue any credit for the difference between first and coach and wouldn’t refund the $150 my brother paid for a first class upgrade when he checked in. She said since it was an air traffic control delay that was the cause of everything, there is nothing they can do.
Nice way to treat someone who flies Continental exclusively EVERY WEEK and is a Platinum OnePass member.
Me and Continental Airlines Chairman & CEO, Larry Kellner
Me at the controls of a Continental 737-900ER