Continental experience

Jul 5th, 2006, 05:07 PM
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I am now clear on what you are saying about getting the hotel right away if you can afford it.

I am still confused about the airline part - if I wait until the next day to organize my ongoing flight - what are my rights? Am I in any way penalized for not getting this sorted out the night before?

Thanks for your help rkkwan.

SandyBrit is offline  
Jul 5th, 2006, 05:17 PM
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Sandy - No, when an airline have to cancel a flight, and even if this is due to weather/ATC, a passenger has lots of leeway to get things sorted out. It's definitely okay to wait until one's in the hotel, or next morning, before calling.

Anyways, from what I can find, CO operated a special flight the next morning (7/3) as CO1940 for JFK-IAH. It took off at 10:12am. I think if one were to follow my strategy, then one can at least get some sleep at a hotel (at own expense), and then head back to JFK to finish the journey. At least this way the nightmare would have ended earlier, and no mess at LGA the next morning.
rkkwan is offline  
Jul 5th, 2006, 05:36 PM
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I have learned a lot from the experience and actually did find what rkkwan to be very true. The continental rep that I called at La Guardia was very helpful and made sure I got on that flight. I was so very appreciative. I thanked her profusely and I do have her name and I made sure to mention her when I contacted CO. I felt very badly for the one guy that was sent out to deal with all of us. I can only imagine he either lost a bet or drew the short straw!

I agree that JFK airport may be a big part of the problem, but since I also had a bad experience with the Continental staff in Austin I'm afraid they have lost my business entirely. I will also try and avoid JFK in the future if at all possible as well.

Once I let the experience soak in a bit more and take some of the great suggestions I have gotten here I may compose a letter to the CEO as suggested. I don't particularly have a vendetta against the company, but it would be nice to be heard and feel like I could make a small difference. Thanks again for all of the responses.
laustic is offline  
Jul 5th, 2006, 06:03 PM
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Though not as savvy as rkkwan about CO operations, I am a pretty loyal customer of theirs. I am, though, not an apologist - for example, I hate Hate HATE those damn 757s they now fly on so many transatlantic routes. But on balance I have to say that it is their customer service that usually stands out, so your tale is especially shocking.
Your experience was absolutely, utterly and thoroughly horridly handled. And as a paying customer, I don't care if the airline is a minor player at a facility - if they fly there, I expect them to be able to provide service there, whether directly or through sharing agreements with other airlines. If I am paying the fare, I expect the service - period.
It sounds like your trip was the perfect storm of everything that could go wrong doing so. Please do contact CO - and use the 1-800-WE CARE2 line, as this is the department best suited to hear and respond to your situation.
Seamus is offline  
Jul 6th, 2006, 02:07 PM
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First, my home airport is a Continental hub, so I fly them frequently and feel that their service is generally good. I've seen a lot more unpleasantness from the passengers than from the employees, by quite a bit, and I don't think I personally could put up with a lot of it.

Certainly it seems that everything that could have gone wrong did. But in going through your posts, my initial thought was that you appeared not to know who was responsible for what, so you were just ascribing everything to Continental.

For example, gate assignments are largely under the control of the airport, not the airline, and I have been in many airports and cannot think of one where current gate assignments were not posted on a bank of monitors. Experienced flyers know to always check the monitors. I doubt that any airline, in these days where we all buy the cheapest tickets we can, has a spare employee that they can assign to a gate that was once assigned for a flight, just in case someone shows up who didn't know to check the monitors.

Also, being confined to your seat while the aircraft waits to take off is something that everyone should enticipate. In that situation, the pilot has to be prepared to go on a moment's notice, and if they have to reseat the passengers and crew, and recheck all the seatbelts and lavatories, they cannot go when there is a sudden opening.

Also, I believe it is standard throughout the industry that the airline will not provide food or housing if they have to cancel a flight from your initial point of departure. If you buy a ticket from A to C, with a connection in B, and they have to cancel the flight from A to B, you don't get free lodging; if they, of their own fault, have to cancel the flight from B to C, you get lodging. There may be instances where a sympathetic agent did provide lodging, but that is almost certainly not the policy of the airline.

So if you plan on complaining to Continental, my suggestion would be that you go through your list of events, and complain only about those that are the fault of Continental.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Jul 6th, 2006, 02:57 PM
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I'm not so sure about that based on this from Laustic:

"I noticed other passengers looking confused and we began to look for a Continental representative to answer our questions. When we found one she sharply told us that an announcement had been made that our gate had changed and that it was our responsibility to listen to the announcements. We all headed to gate B-23 where there was no Continental representative even though it was time to board the plane. There was a sign indicating that in order to board the plane we were to head downstairs yet there were no stairs visible. When Continental representatives did appear they would not answer our questions as to what was going on. There was no signage at either gate indicating the status of our flight at all. Finally, an announcement was made that we were to catch a shuttle at gate B-23 which would take us to our plane. There still were no Continental representatives."

Most of the time I can't hear the announcements on the PA system & it seems Laustic wasn't the only one confused about where to go. There was also no excuse for the Continental rep to speak sharply to these passengers. As for the other reps who wouldn't answer any questions, they should have made an effort to find the answers.

Evidently CO does normally have great customer service but the attitude on the ground AND in the air needs to be reported so they can keep their good rep.
Carrybean is offline  
Jul 6th, 2006, 04:22 PM
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clevelandbrown - actually, it does not matter whether or not it is the originating leg, though it may matter if the origin is the place of your residence.
The specifics of what an airline will provide and under what circumstances are outlined in each airline's contract of carriage. If it is due to weather they are off the hook and are not obligated to provide anything, though sometimes they will provide a token such as a meal voucher. Continental usually hands out a slip of paper with a toll free number to call for reduced "distressed traveler" rates at nearby hotels in such cases.
Seamus is offline  
Jul 6th, 2006, 06:35 PM
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cleveland brown: I have really tried to make it clear that I don't consider myself the most saavy and experienced of travellers. I've learned a lot from the forum regarding this experience -- for example I concede that the shuttle was out of Continental's control. I'm still not quite sure why they wouldn't let us off, but I guess that's a mystery I'll never solve.

However, there are a few things that I would like to point out and make clear about my story:

1.) I am not upset by the gate change, I realize these things happen and I have experienced them in the past. I absolutely do not blame CO for that. It is the way in which the gate change was handled. I did not hear it announced, which I do not think is out of the question in a noisy airport. I thought it was reasonable to ask someone and get a polite and informed response. Each gate has monitors and I expected to see some information reflected on those monitors. Since that wasn't happening I at least expected to see a CO representative at our gate at least by the time our plane was supposed to depart.

2.) I am not upset by the flight delay and cancellation, again it is the way in which it was handled. The flight attendants were not pleasant from the moment we boarded the plane. An announcement was made as soon as we boarded not to ask questions. We were not kept informed. I have said repeatedly that I understand what a stressful situation they were in. I symphathize with them and I treated them all with complete respect. I am sad to say they did not do the same for us. I was amazed at how calm and polite people were being on the plane considering the situation. I really respect flight attendants and I know how difficult their job is. I worked in the customer service industry for over 10 years so I have a profound respect for these types of jobs.

Also we were told repeatedly that once we got off the plane there would be CO agents to greet us and answer our questions. They had an hour to prepare for us and there was no one there when we finally got back to the gate. Once the one rep did arrive he had no information.

And I don't care how saavy/experienced/whatever you are, but 7 hours sitting on a plane with no food, drink, or information is not acceptable. There really should be a cut off point at which the flight just gets cancelled.

I guess I would say that my primary complaint against CO is the customer service I witnessed both in my day in NY and at our home airport of Austin, TX when our luggage was destroyed. I am not upset that the luggage was destroyed even though some items were truly irreplacable. It was the way in which it was all handled that really bothered me. Surely CO can be held responsible for how agents treat patrons? Therefore, I don't think it is unreasonable that because of these 2 experiences I choose not to fly CO.

I really do not ask a lot in the way of customer service. Just general politeness and competence and in more difficult situations a little bit of empathy and a helpful attitude. For the loyal CO customers I am sorry if my post has offended you. I think it is great to find an airline that you can trust. I'm not trying to sway you in any way. I will repeat -- I do not have a vendetta against CO. I'm just trying to inform people of what happened. I am not seeking compensation in any way from them. My only purpose is to inform so that maybe one person can learn a little from my experience and have a better vacation because of it. That's what this board is all about right? Read the posts, take the advice or leave the advice, it's your choice.
laustic is offline  
Jul 7th, 2006, 06:14 AM
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laustic - I read your entire post and it brought back horrible memories of a very similar experience I had with Continental - probably 10 years ago. We sat on the runway for hours and were not offered any explanations, compassion, etc. And - no food or water. And - I was sitting in first class! So, you would have thought that we would have at least been given a glass of water - but no, we were not.

Anyway, I fly over 100,000 miles per year for business. I never flew Continental after that experience.

The message here is that if an airline treats its customers like that, they will lose them. And - they certainly lost my business permanently. Sounds like I was right.

On all my years of flying with American Airlines, I have never had an experience like that.

I agree with you - I wouldn't want a voucher either. By the way, after my experience, I wrote a letter to the company which was never answered.
Lynn_Gibson is offline  
Jul 7th, 2006, 04:54 PM
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There are some misconceptions posted on this thread.

1. Mechanicals are not considered something that an airline can control. This has been an old wives tale for too long and it's time to put a stop to it. Airline(s) are not obligated to do anything for the passenger(s) when a flight goes mechanical - period!
Will they do something - yes in most cases, but again, they are not obligated.

The ONLY time it's MANDATORY for an airline to provide hotel, food, etc, is when the airline bumps you involuntarily. That's the ONLY time.

So, let's all repeat, weather, ATC, mechanicals - airline(s) can tell you to shove it, and nobody would do anything about it.
Obviously, if repeated and no help was provided, the customer may start looking at the competitors, which in turn would not be good for business in the long term.

Involuntary bump - take as much as you can, but usually it never happens because volunteers are plentiful when airlines offer vouchers up to 4 figures in some cases.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jul 7th, 2006, 09:53 PM
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But airlines do put people up at hotels when a flight is cancelled or significantly delayed due to mechanicals.

For example, my cousins' flight on CO PEK-EWR was delayed earlier this year because the PEK-bound plane had a mechanical at EWR, and was delayed by about 8 hours. They were put up at a hotel near PEK during the afternoon/evening hours. Then because they arrived at EWR past midnight and missed all the connections, CO put them up again at an EWR hotel. [They were flying a special 30,000 mile FF R/T award too.]
rkkwan is offline  
Jul 8th, 2006, 03:18 AM
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I did say in my post that in most cases they will, but it's not an obligation nor is it mandatory because of some regulations.

In some cases they will put up people in hotels during bad weather. I believe that happens more if it's some remote airport where the particular airline only has 1 or 2 flights a day. I was given a free hotel voucher and a meal/phone vouchers during bad weather ops in MCI by AA. It also helped that I have top status with AA. I believe the regular John/Jane Passenger only got a distressed rate coupon for the same hotel. I don't think that would happen in a hub airport, such as ORD. At best I would get the distressed rate voucher and the regular John/Jane would get nothing, but it does happen even during weather cancellations.

The point I was trying to make in my earlier post was that the only time it's mandatory for the airline to put you up in a hotel and feed you is when they involuntarily bump you. Anything else, including mechanicals, is not guaranteed for any special consideration.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jul 8th, 2006, 05:23 AM
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I think the main point about this thread is not what is mandatory, but rather what is good customer service.

I was on a JetBlue flight a few months ago. The flight was delayed 2hrs on the tarmac due to mechanicals. We eventually took off and arrived 2hrs late.

They announced shortly after takeoff that each passenger would receive a $25 credit and all in-flight movies would be free.

Before the plane landed I had in my email a $50 voucher from JetBlue apologizing for the delay.

Did JetBlue have to do any of those? Did it cost them anything - no, not really either - except they may just barely break even on the next flight I take or perhaps a small loss.

But they did pay attention to customer service very proactively. Any grumbles anybody on the plane had was avoided due to good customer service.
J62 is online now  
Jul 8th, 2006, 05:53 AM
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and if you took the time to read my posts you would have knowns that I was saying exactly what you are saying. The difference? I was trying to explain and clarify the misconception that it's mandatory, when it isn't, that's it!

I was not replying to the OP, just to some wrong information given here.....
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jul 8th, 2006, 05:57 AM
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AAFF - I understand what you're saying, and I'm not disputing that. Just trying to say what's common practice.
rkkwan is offline  
Jul 8th, 2006, 01:34 PM
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Continental's CofC requires it to provide lodging and food in cases of mechanical delays, with an exception, I think, if the damage is due to another airline. You could look it up.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Jul 8th, 2006, 02:01 PM
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Partially true:

The Passenger will be provided one night’s lodging, or a maximum allowance for one night’s lodging
as established by each location*1
, when a CO flight on which the Passenger is being transported incurs a
Schedule Irregularity and the Passenger incurs a delay that is expected to exceed four hours during the
period 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.*2

EXCEPTION: Lodging will not be furnished:
a) To a Passenger whose trip is interrupted at a city which is his/her permanent domicile

*1 - leaves a lot room for interpretation of the local CO station chief

*2 - obviously if you get a mechanical on the 4 pm flight and it's the last flight of the day to the destination, it gives CO an out, if that's what they want to do, although as I said before, in most cases they won't.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jul 8th, 2006, 03:33 PM
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AAFF - I think you are misinterpreting #2 in your post. If you are booked on the last flight of the day at 4PM (i.e., the next flight is tomorrow) you would have a delay of at least 4 hours and it would include the 10 PM - 6 AM period, and you would get a htoel room if it is a mechanical. Had it happen to me, in fact.
Seamus is offline  
Jul 8th, 2006, 03:45 PM
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I don't quite understand what we are even arguing about here anymore. AAFF keeps talking about the official obligation, the rest of us talking about real-life experience. Two topics, not really relevant towards each other, and has absolutely nothing to do with the original post. End of story.
rkkwan is offline  
Jul 10th, 2006, 06:53 PM
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jetBlue really is good. I didn't know they had movies in addition to the DirecTV. The comfy leather seats are 17.8" wide and in the back half of the plane (A320) they have 34" seat pitch.
mrwunrfl is offline  

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