Last weekend, Continental Airlines did not meet my expectations at Newark. I rarely take the time to write to an airline (I haven’t written to United in years), but felt what happened was egregious enough to bring to CO’s attention.
I found this in my inbox last night (bolding mine):
Dear Mr. Klint:
Thank you for contacting Continental Airlines regarding flight 60 from Newark to Brussels, October 15, 2010.
We regret any inconvenience experienced and that you were un able [sic] to secure seat 17D for this flight.
International passengers must obtain a boarding pass no less than 60 minutes before the scheduled departure and be present at the boarding gate no less than 30 minutes before the scheduled departure. There are a few exceptions, including Lima, Peru, where the check-in requirement is 75 minutes prior to scheduled departure. We typically suggest international customers begin the check-in process three hours prior to departure to allow adequate time for required documentation verification, positive bag match, and security screenings.
Research on your flight history shows check-in with less than the required time for processing. Any attempt to check-in past the cut-off time at the kiosk will prompt assistance by a representative for manual check-in. Please be advised your seat may be released at the gate if you do not obtain a boarding pass 30 minutes before the scheduled departure.
Mr. Klint, we are very sorry you lost your seat and apologize for any inappropriate response on this matter by the ground staff. I realize my apology cannot erase what happened, but I hope it helps to know we take your concerns very seriously. At Continental Airlines, we believe all customers and co-workers are to be treated with dignity and respect. This philosophy is deeply woven into everything we do.
Please be assured your concerns will be forwarded to division senior management for internal review and necessary corrective action. However, we regret we would not offer compensation in this instance.
For detailed information on recommended check-in times, please visit our Web site:
We appreciate your e-mail and hope to see you on a future Continental Airlines flight.
Customer Care Manager
A few thoughts:
- I checked in almost 24 hours before the flight and have an e-mail confirmation to prove it.
- I was at the airport more than one hour before my flight and the check-in machine still directed me see a representative.
- The Customer Care Manager misses the point: I found out who took my seat onboard and the mechanic admitted that he was moved to 17D with the middle seat blocked so he could attempt to rest before repairing an aircraft in Brussels the following day.
- I had work to during the flight and brought along my emPower adaptor so I could plug in my laptop. There are not plug-ins available in the rear section of economy class. This was never even acknowledged in the e-mail response.
- I was yelled at and treated rudely by a supervisor and four other employees and all you’re going to say is "at Continental Airlines, we believe all customers and co-workers are to be treated with dignity and respect"? Sorry. Didn’t happen. Not even close.
- And no compensation? I’m not complaining about a burnt out light or a loose tray table that would have netted me a $250 voucher on UA. My seat was moved, I was treated poorly by five CO employees, and another CO employee confirmed onboard that I had been deliberately moved to accommodate him…
I knew CO was stingy when it came to compensation, but their response amazes me. I’ll be sending a cordial e-mail back today making it clear that the apology above is not acceptable.
It sounds like you encountered the same rude, indifferent EWR agents that we did a few years ago.
As a result of ATC, we missed our connection at EWR. What followed was the worst customer service experience we have ever had with any airline. When we asked for a hotel room (which we should not have expected, given our zero status at the time), the agent looked at our record and said “not at the price you paid”. Wow.
It only got worse from there, with the counter agent finally threatening to “call TSA”. When the agent made this threat, a gentleman already standing by the counter shouted “don’t forget to tell TSA that I am still here waiting for them!”. I guess his experience with the agent wasn’t so great either.
In the end, we did get a free room for the night, and, no, it wasn’t in jail.
@gene: I hope UA tempers CO’s stinginess: I can’t believe that they would refuse to compensate me anything at all and send back a half-hearted form letter blaming me for not checking in on time. I felt the letter above was almost as insulting as the rude treatment at EWR.
Darren may have been right when he posited in the previous post that CO would look and see that my ticket had a $0 base.
Fozz suggested I call CO instead and maybe I’ll do that if I don’t hear back from CO by Tuesday.
Wow, terrible. But again, I think you were “blown off” and provided some B.S. policy statement (which was untrue since you did check-in online), in an effort to avoid being honest with you. I’d still put money down on someone looked at your fare, and decided to move you based on that. Your PNR would never show that as a reason, of course, it would probably just show the Agent ID of the CO employee who changed your seat. The customer service person was probably at a loss of how to explain it. They are also probably assuming that they’re dealing with an unknowing Platinum person vs. the expert flyer that you are.
Good luck… would love to hear about the next round.
Good luck getting anything out of CO. Over the years, I’ve found you can argue with them until you’re blue in the face, and maybe you’ll net $50 in flight vouchers. It’s just not worth the effort.
you don;t always get what u think u are entitled to
@KT: I actually don’t think I am “entitled” to anything. CO did get me to BRU, even if the plane was delayed two hours and I was in the back of the plane and my meal was frozen (more on that later…). But I do think compensation is appropriate and I also think that CO should have addressed what happened onboard as well as in the airport.
Whether or not Continental was wrong to do what they did, you should think twice about using your blog to shame them into action.
If the spirit of this blog is about travel experiences and reviews, it should not be about your personal dispute with one airline for one incident, regardless of outcome. Rise above it.
@AS: I respectfully disagree. I think Matthew’s complaint is definitely worth blogging about, especially since CO & UA are merging. This is a good “heads up” to me as a 1K on United to see how things might change. I’d definitely chalk this up as a “travel experience and review.”
@AS: I don’t flatter myself into thinking that CO would ever read a blog as small as mine. Second, I feel that my experience is interesting to my readers and my personal (and rare) disputes with airlines provide some of the most interesting content to blog about.
My honest to God reason for blogging about this is because I fly 150,000+ miles per year on United and I see changes on the horizon with Continental now a part of the family. So far, I don’t like the step brother–indifferent customer service coupled with a policy aggressively selling upgrades to anyone who will buy them while bypassing elites is cause for concern.
My hope in sharing about my little incident last Friday and the way CO handled it is to guide others so they will have a more positive outcome if they run into the same poor customer service.
I update my blog at least twice on most days with a wide range of travel related material. I would concede your point if this was the only thing I was talking about, but this incident is just one of many things I am addressing on my blog.
In fact, in the coming days I’ll be reviewing the flights themselves and giving CO high marks in certain areas.
You have experienced the real CO.
You really need to bring an iphone/ipod touch with video camera to record every single detail when things go wrong on CO. Unlike UA, CO is much more dishonest and inconsiderate when these things happen.
I wonder if someone did something as nefarious as unchecking you in, and then checking you back in with the new seat ? Is this possible.
@Derek: The thought crossed my mind…
@John: Well, this was my first real problem with CO–I’m willing to give them at least one more shot before I am ready to label them a dishonest airline. You’re right though, legal issues aside, it would have been great to have recorded everything last week.
Wow, that is even worse customer service than I have received from USless airways
Is it unfortunate that you were moved? Sure
Is it a great tragedy? Heck, freaking no.
CO took you from EWR to BRU. Stop complaining and whining you’ll be fine without demanding some sort of exorbitant compensation for some barbaric injustice they did to you.
Please do share what they respond with when you point out that they’re lying re: check-in time. This is really atrocious and makes me weep for our UA/CO future.
@Matt: When did Matthew argue that what happened to him is a “great tragedy?”
“I. . . felt what happened was egregious enough to bring to CO’s attention. the apology above is not acceptable”
Sounds a little bit over dramatized to me. That may just be that I don’t fly very often and so I’m not bugged by smaller things, but it does seem a little bit silly for a frequent flyer to worry about the situation.
Will be interesting to read the result of the next response or call to action. What may help in the future (& worked for me with CO in past,) is to state what effect the event (change, service disruption, anomaly) had on you or your journey. State exactly what you would like back as compensation for “X” event, ex. X no. of miles, free Pres. Club voucher, or money – currency and amount, with a snail mail address. Not that they will give you all, but I have found CO will attempt to make an amends with the customer. Try again, waiting to hear results.
PS – If they did un check you in (re seat you) it will be in your PNR (record locator helps) history time to second & date stamped; which is retrievable by the airline up to 60 – 90 days after the the last flight event on your itinerary. (Make it easy for the person to help you.) I have the some fear/reservations you may have with CO, from pasts events with UA flts…I’ll leave it at that. Matt good luck and keep writing, I enjoy reading your posts.
@Darren & @Matthew – you make a good point re: how the UA flyer may fare with the merger is a relevant topic.
@Matthew – I know you post about other content but there have been 3-4 posts about this. I enjoy reading about your travels, you seem to enjoy the destination experience. And the frequent flyer tidbits are a great plus. Let’s hope you get past this incident and can refocus on ‘regularly scheduled programming’. Best regards.
@AS: I certainly hope to return to regularly scheduled programming soon (as I have already done), but I will be reporting back on how CO responded to my second e-mail (and every subsequent communication until this issue is resolved)!
But you don’t have to read those posts! 😉