Continental needs to learn Customer Service

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Apr 27, 2009
Austin, TX
I recently had the mis-fortune to fly with Continental Airlines on a trip up to Wilkes Barre, PA (from Austin, TX) to attend a conference held by Solid Cactus. The customer service agents (the ones I could actually find) were rude, obnoxious, un-caring and simply put did not care about their customers. The realization that Continental would not have an airline without their customers, seemed to be lost on them.

I was suppose to fly from Austin - Newark, NJ then onto Scranton, PA. Seems like a simple itinerary, huh? First thing, I get to Austin (AUS) and am informed that flight into Newark was delayed due to weather and then they canceled the Newark - Scranton flight all together. First words from agents mouth - "sorry just can't get you there till tomorrow." Not good enough - I paid alot of money to attend a business conference and refused to accept this. I informed the agent, I would make a double connection if necessary, I had to be there. She then found me a connection - AUS-IAH-DWT-AVP (austin-Houston, Detroit-Scranton). A long day of traveling, but at least I would get there. WRONG!

I flew from Austin - Houston - no problems but minor delays (to be expected).
Then the next flight from Houston - Detroit. The pilot made a decision to make an emergency landing in Indianapolis, IN because a passenger got sick. Ok a bit unusual but it happens. EMT's met our flight, got the passenger off the plane, then proceeded to ask if anyone needed to use the restroom and allowed half the plane to de-plane and use the restroom at the airport, INSTEAD of getting off the ground ASAP so people could make connections in detroit. (we spent approx 1 hr on the ground for this emergency landing) I contacted a continental agent by phone to check to see if I would still make my connection in detroit - she said no you won't. Did not offer any assistance - I asked her if they could (or would) hold the plane for me (I would only miss it by a few minutes). She refused. I asked the flight attendant to let me off the flight FIRST because I had a tight connection and it was the LAST connecting flight of the night. She gave me a dirty look and with disgust told me other passengers had connections to make and could not do this just for me, but she would inform the plane to allow "passengers with connections" to deplane first - well needless to say the entire plane got up and got off (when they could). Since I was seated in the very back it took 20 min to get off the plane in Detroit. I ran to the continental agent meeting the flight and asked him if my connection had left yet and what gate - he told me what gate (was a LONG hike from where I was) all he said is "no has not left yet- you better run".. Great customer service assistance here... Would not call the gate, would not get me a cart, no assistance at all. I took off running as fast as I could (nearly gave myself a heart attack trying to make it), only to discover the door was closed, no agents in sight and the plane was gone. I searched for a continental agent to no avail. In total exasperation, I went to a delta agent asking for help - she told me continental had to help me and told me to go to THEIR gates.. Again, no one in sight that worked for continental. Finally found another delta agent who was nice enough to try to radio throughout the airport to find me assistance. Not one single supervisor or agent answered the call. Finally after 25 min of trying to reach someone, she said the ONLY CONTINENTAL AGENT left in the airport (this was only about 10pm) was in the baggage claim office and they would have to help me. Being totally frustrated, tired and out of breathe from running all over detroit airport searching for help, the agent in Baggage Claim finally tells me, there are no more flights tonite - and the first one is the next day - they will send me to the Ramada Inn and give me a $6 voucher for breakfast. My luggage was checked (because of the liquid law), so I had no clothing, no tooth brush - only my purse and a laptop. I eventually went to the hotel and came back to the hotel in the morning for the flight to scranton and finally made it there by noon the next day. What should of taken 8 hrs or so to get there, took over 24 hrs and left a very bad taste in my mouth for Continental.

But wait - the story gets better. I am returning home a few days later, due to fly from Scranton - Newark - Austin. I checked in at Scranton at 245pm for a 4pm flight to Newark. They check my bag to Austin. I go to the gate area, we board the plane and then were told (after sitting on the runway) that we are grounded for 25-35 min due to high winds in Newark. Oh great I think I am going to miss my connection AGAIN. I ask the flight attendant what the status of my connecting flight is - she calls in and says ITS ON TIME. We land in Newark at 5:15pm - at Gate C115 and find out my connecting flight to austin (due to leave at 5:33pm) is at Gate C114. Great I think -- I will actually make it. I run off the plane to the gate next door only to find the door closed (its now only 5:20pm) and again am treated by a Continental agent like they just dont care. He says to me - "cant you see, the door is closed" I explained to him I HAVE TO BE ON THAT FLIGHT - ITS THE LAST OF THE NIGHT TO AUSTIN. He looks at me and just says go to Customer Service across from gate C105. I look out the window and the plane is STILL THERE. Again I ask him, please open the door and he refuses. What I then found out is that the plane to Austin was not even half full, but they decided to leave EARLY, hence making me miss my flight! The flight was suppose to leave at 533pm and actually backed away at 5:25pm (check continental's records). So for some unGodly reason, some idiot made the decision to leave early with less than half a plane full. I go to customer service and they tell me the best they can do is get me to Houston, TX tonite and then onto to Austin in the morning. I ask them what hotel they are going to put me up at - the agent very rudly says - WE DONT HAVE TO DO THAT - you can stay in the terminal or get your own hotel - we are not required to pay for that because of air traffic control. HUH? I am of course livid at this point because not only did I have problems on the outbound to this conference, I also was met by agents who did not care in the least and were rude, un-caring and generally a pain in the butt to deal with (that is, if you can FIND an agent). My boyfriend drove 3 hrs to Houston (from Austin) to pick me up, because he did not want me spending the night in the terminal. So I arrive home at 1am (NOT because Continental did their job and got me there - but because he cared enough not to want me to spend one more second in an airport.)
But wait - there's more! I call Continental this morning to find out where the heck my luggage is and an agent (in Houston Baggage Claim) tells me its still in Newark, NJ and they will put it on FL#450 coming into Austin at 553pm and I could come pick it up anytime after that. HUH? After all this, you expect me to drive 45 min to Austin Airport to get my bag that YOU screwed up? The agent continues with the poor attitude and tells me - its not their responsibility, its MINE because I did not file a claim for it in Newark or in Houston. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING. Again a prime example of how poor Continental Airlines service is. My boyfriend finally talks to him (I lost it at this point) and he continues to tell him how its MY fault that my bag didn't make it sooner (let alone there were at least 6 earlier flights into austin). We said we NEVER have this problem with Southwest and he tells us THEY DONT COUNT BECAUSE THEY DONT CHARGE FOR LUGGAGE. What does this have to do with anything?
The end of the story is, finally we get a Supervisor on the phone to agree to deliver to us (he keeps telling us, you know we do NOT have to do this for you), and says it will be delivered on or around 11pm tonite. After calling several more times trying to find out status of my luggage, a rep in Austin tells him, oh that came in earlier today (no one bothered to tell US this) and the delivery company contacted me at 640pm to deliver it to me.

End of the story is - yes I am home - yes I have my bags and yes I HATE HATE HATE Continental Airlines and would tell anyone who would listen - do not fly them if you want to actually get where you are going with your luggage. They do not know the meaning of the words Customer Service or the slogan that Continental Cares is the biggest load of crap.

We are due to travel to Lagardia in June for a cruise and we are scared to death we will run into the exact same problems - and have less than a 50% chance of actually getting there. If the tickets were not already booked and non refundable -we would cancel them and rebook with a more dependable airline like SOUTHWEST.

Welcome to airline travel! You paid to fly mass transit, so let me break this down....

1) Weather happens, and there is nothing an airline can do about it. We have tried over and over again but God just won't listen when it comes to weather.

2)Emergencies happen and life goes on. The Captain could not of just had the sick pax taken off and then said ALRIGHTY LET'S ROLL! It does NOT WORK LIKE THAT, they need to get NEW paper work, file a NEW flight plan, be RE-FULED, and make sure the emergency equipment used on the pax is a non-no go item. We can't fly without certain equipment in the back.

3) If you asked me to get off the plan first you would of gotten the same responce. Everyone at that point had a ruff day of flying, not just yourself. A lot of people had connections, not just yourself. So no he/she could not of asked 100+ people to remain seated so one of who knows how many can make her connection. It doesn't work this way, and asking for a plane to be held is the real chain puller.

We have gates that need to be cleared, and 100+ other people waiting to get to their destinations. Also how great would it have been if you were sitting on a plane, on the ramp because your gate had a plane that was held for a late passenger. I bet you would of complained about that to. We don't have unlimited gate space at an airport.

4) Flight attendants can't check flight information. They have a report with the most up to date information as of when we left the gate. We don't have computers onboard planes.

5) I doubt the flight closed early and even if it was sitting at the gate with the door closed it would not be reopened. The flight was CLOSED and this is how all airlines work. We don't open and close aircraft doors and when traveling if the delay is not our fault we have no reason to pay for a hotel.

You seem like a person who never travels, in the future educate yourself. All the information about each airline is on the contract of carriage. All the rules and regulations are shown to you as you book your ticket. It might help if you knew how airlines really worked, even your beloved SWA. You just so happened to be traveling on a day of bad weather and instead of taking the Austin's agent advice and flying out the next day, you and ONLY YOU CHOSE to take the risk that is associated with weather. A bad day of flying.

The only reason you feel all of these people were rude to you is because they didn't bow down to your requests. If you were flying a private jet then you would of had no problem. Instead you were flying public and you were one a few hundred thousand traveling both of those days with the same problems. Except I bet some people were prepared and didn't go on a forum crying that an airline didn't do what I wanted and they are HORRIBLE. I mean give me a break.
Can you believe a passenger got sick...damn that pilot for diverting..I am sure if you were clutching your chest you would be the first one to thank the crew for diverting....
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