Another airline screwup you just will NOT believe: Continental puts my unaccompanied minor daughter on the wrong plane!

By | June 14, 2009

I took my ten-year-old daughter to Boston Logan Airport this morning to put her on a Continental flight to Cleveland, where my in-laws live, as an unaccompanied minor.  The gate agent took all the paperwork and escorted my daughter down the jetway, and then proceeded to put her on the wrong airplane. There were two flights on the tarmac being boarded through the same gate, and the gate agent put her on the flight to Newark rather than the flight to Cleveland.

No one on the Cleveland flight crew noticed that my daughter, who was listed as an unaccompanied minor on the manifest, wasn’t on the plane.  No one on the Newark flight crew noticed that they had an extra passenger not listed on the manifest, or that an unexpected unaccompanied minor had been boarded, or that the paperwork accompanying my daughter spelled out in big, clear letters that she was supposed to be going to a different city.

When the flight arrived in Newark, no one there noticed that my daughter had been put on the wrong flight and flown the wrong city, again despite the fact that her paperwork clearly spelled out both the flight number and destination.  The Continental people in Newark called my in-laws’ phone number to tell them to come pick her up as if nothing was wrong, despite the fact that their address on the form was an Ohio address and their phone number had an Ohio area code.  The people in Newark did not call my home or cell number to find out why no one was at the airport to pick up my daughter, despite the fact that they had both of those numbers on the same paperwork as my in-laws’ number.

We didn’t find out something was wrong until my father-in-law called me from the arrival gate in Cleveland to ask why my daughter wasn’t on the plane.

It took forty-five minutes from that point until the Continental people in Cleveland finally confirmed that she was in Newark.  The only reason they were able to figure it out at all is because I told them that there had been a flight to Newark boarding at the same gate and the best possible explanation for her whereabouts was that the gate agent put her on the wrong flight (the alternatives were much worse!).  God only knows how long it would have taken them to figure out where she was if I hadn’t noticed the Newark flight leaving from Boston and mentioned it to them.

The folks in Cleveland “graciously” offered to refund the unaccompanied minor fee.  My father-in-law laughed when they made the offer, it was so outrageous.  You can bet they’ll be refunding a lot more than that fee by the time I’m done with them.

But this isn’t about the money.  It’s mind-boggling how many people must have failed to do their jobs properly for this to be able to happen.  Furthermore, surely numerous FAA regulations must been violated, e.g., surely flight crews are required to positively verify that the number of passengers on the manifest matches the number of passengers on the plane.  And this has all sorts of implications for airport security — if someone can buy a ticket for a regional jet flight, go down the jetway to the tarmac, and then sneak behind a pillar and hide rather than boarding the plane, and no one on the flight crew notices that a passenger has disappeared, then doesn’t that person now have essentially free rein over the entire airport tarmac?

I’ve been told that my daughter was put on a flight out of Newark scheduled to land in Cleveland in less than an hour.  We’ll see if they got it right this time.

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150 thoughts on “Another airline screwup you just will NOT believe: Continental puts my unaccompanied minor daughter on the wrong plane!

  1. Grant

    I’m sorry you and your family had such a horrible ordeal with this trip. As a parent I know how it feels when you don’t know where your child is and the scenarios running through your mind is terrifying.

    I’ve been a Continental customer for over 10 years with 780k flight miles and have seen the customer service decline since Bethune retired several years ago. It’s obvious that you are not trying to profit from this situation. Most customers demand more from the airline for less incidentals like a misplaced baggage or being bumped from a flight. I had a delayed flight for 5 hours and they gave me 1000 ‘bonus’ miles and a written apology as compensation for my time lost. So you surely must receive some sort of compensation, being upgraded flights, refunded tickets, and even a written apology for this incident.

    There must be some remedy for this situation as airlines should NEVER lose track of passengers much less unaccompanied children. They charge you for the $75/$100 to assign personnel to make sure that your child is (1) in safe hands (2) arrives at the the destination safely into authorized adult supervision. Obviously they failed miserably in their jobs.

    Those idiots posting that it was just a “little mistake” and “get over it” must never have experienced ‘losing’ their child for even a second or felt the helplessness in that situation because of the lack of information being provided by the airline. Obviously, each person along the checklist of supervisors in this process failed miserably. You showed much more restraint than I would have in your situation.

    Overall, I feel that Continental is still one of the better airlines for customer service compared to Delta, United and even Southwest. Unfortunately, this type of screw up is indefensible and inexcusable.

    Good luck to you and I wish your family well. I’m sure your daughter will have an interesting story to tell her children further down in life.

    Reply
  2. Milhouse

    PS: Both incidents I mentioned happened when a passenger mistakenly went to the wrong gate. When, as in your case, two flights are boarding from the same gate, in my experience there is someone from the airline standing at the point where the two passenger streams diverge to give directions, and the crew at the entrance to each flight diligently check the stubs to make sure each passenger is on the right plane. Otherwise it would be far too easy for anybody to make this mistake. For Continental to have screwed this up reflects very poorly on them.

    Reply
  3. JO

    I completely understand, I am glad that you are making this public. I am completely sure that those particular employees will never make that mistake again and this is what they need so the mistake will never occur again.

    Reply
  4. Linda

    I am from Kansas, not Houston, but I regularly read the Houston Chronicle online. That is how I found this article and these comments. Perhaps others found it the same way. I agree that not all comments from Houston are likely to be from Continental employees. Just people that picked up the story through their local newspaper.

    For the record, I agree with your position on the huge errors that ocurred in the handling of your daughter’s trip. A bit scary, I’d say.

    Reply
  5. Kim Oursler

    I had the same issue with Continental in February after paying for the unaccompanied minor fees, my 13yo daughter was left in the Arubian Airport alone since they wouldn’t let my cousin in the airport to sit with her – she was seated in the wrong departure gate – she was set to travel to Newark, NJ also instead of back home to Houston. Had my daughter not called to tell me she was alone and thought something was wrong since her plane was supposed to be leaving and no one was at the gate to board the plane with her. I was not looking to sue anyone – I just want the service that I paid for. I thought after the huge stink I raised about my daughter this would not happen so soon again. I did receive my $100 fee back, but no apology.

    Reply
  6. Milhouse

    Wait a minute. You were actually at the gate? How did you manage that? How do you get through security without a boarding pass? I thought that was impossible since Sep 2001.

    About getting on the wrong plane: it happens, and you’d think the crew would notice someone that isn’t on the manifest, but apparently they don’t. I know someone who was flying from Boston to Washington, and it wasn’t until over an hour into the flight, when he wondered why they weren’t about to land, that he realised he’d accidentally boarded a flight to Atlanta; it was late enough that he had to spend the night there.

    About 20 years ago I boarded a plane and found someone in my seat; I showed him my boarding pass stub and asked him to move, he showed me his stub for the same seat, and when we asked a flight attendant why two passes had been printed for the same seat she noticed that I was on the wrong plane. Had “my” seat on that plane been empty, I might not have noticed anything wrong until it was too late. I don’t think they’d yet started announcing the destination before each flight.

    Reply
  7. Mike

    Aaah the veil of the internet, anonymous postings allow people to let their inner douchebag out. This is why I hate most people. If they had any accountabilty for their words they would not make such statements, and if they did anyways, I would write them off as not worth my time.

    I’m sorry you had to go through that ordeal, I would have lost it if my daughter would have gone missing for 45 minutes. Frankly I think they owe you for more that some tickets, though the sting of all this media attention should hopefully make them be a bit more attentive.

    Reply
  8. Suzanne Titkemeyer

    Continental did something very similar to my family four years ago. They didn’t put my daughter on the wrong plane but she was traveling down to Houston as a unaccompanied minor with a large group of kids for a mission trip. There were approximately seven unaccompanied minors on that plane and when it landed in Houston the reps from the airplane abandoned the kids on the plane. No one came to take them off or anything. My 15 year old daughter took charge of the kids, some smaller, took them off the plane and got them to their various gates. She called me from the airport to tell me what had happened and while we were talking an agent from the airline rushed to and started jumping all over her for taking action like that. This was approximately 30 minutes after the plane landed. I immediately contacted the airline and was told that they couldn’t discuss the issue with me because I ‘might be a child molester stalking children.’ They also refused to refund the unaccompanied child fee. I will never fly Continental again.

    Reply
  9. Gloria

    Saying it shows “enormous emotional restraint” to not sue is ridiculous (to quote another reply). There is no reason to sue. Mistakes happen – as scary as they might be. That doesn’t mean anyone “deserves” a cash settlement. His child is fine and, as he says himself, not scarred by this mishap.

    There IS a reason to expect a full refund and an apology. I agree that the OP has paid for the “babysitting” service and has every right to be upset. That must have been a very frightening experience. When we put our children into other people’s care, there is a certain amount of risk involved. It was an unfortunate but unintentional occurence, but I am sure it is not the norm.

    Maybe we should all think twice about letting children travel alone, whether a service is offered or not.

    I am from Houston but not a Continental employee. I do fly them often and still will, but I probably won’t send my child on a flight alone before the age of 14 or 15.

    Reply
  10. emarkay

    My son flew as a UM many times and because he was on non-“commuter” flights, he always used the jetway. As a technologist and aviation enthusiast, I can see how it is possible for this kid to have gotten misplaced; but it is an inexcusable mistake on the part of more than one person, and the parent here is not an issue at all – he did what he was supposed to do, and evidently more, by making some observations that assisted.

    The general idiotic and pompous comments show the sad but true state of this country; and the world. Idiocracy incarnate. As a long time (remember Netscape on Win98?) WWW user, I am appalled at how the cretins have accepted technology.

    Glad your kid is safe, and yea, you deserve a few free tickets from Continental; Just check the “tail number” before boarding! 🙂

    Reply
  11. Peter

    Continental should refund the entire ticket fare, because the services that were paid for were not properly delivered; therefore, they should give back the money. But even if they do not, there should not be a lawsuit (which you have stated there will not be), because the child was never in any danger and this was purely an accident without malice on the part of an employee.

    If I were Continental, I would have apologized, given a full refund and given a couple of free passes.

    Reply
  12. Matt

    Why are you people so unsympathetic to this guy? He paid people to babysit and they messed up. If I had a kid and they flew the child to the wrong airport I’d be just as irate as he is. It shouldn’t happen when you pay double the fare to fly somehwere

    Reply
  13. Margaret

    I agree that the 45 minutes you had to wait to find out that she was in Newark must have been horrible. I think the people who are posting that you were irresponsible probably have never traveled.

    Reply
  14. Audrey

    I am surprised at all of the backlash towards you. People should remember that it was the Airlines that screwed up! Hang in there…and don’t back down. There are so many “what if’s” that could have happen. Action should be taken to ensure that this does not happen to another child. As for everyone reading…think about what was going on in his daughters mind when she got off of the plane…no mom…no dad…no grandma…no grandpa…I mean come on!

    Reply
  15. jik Post author

    The best way to handle this situation was to keep it out of the media.

    If the media weren’t covering the story, then Continental would have no incentive to do anything at all to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again.

    Keep it out of the media and you would not have to listen to all the negative feedback.

    Negative feedback doesn’t phase me. I’ve been active on the Internet for over two decades. I’ve got a plentiful supply of asbestos underwear.

    I hope your daughter is ok.

    She’s fine, thank you.

    Reply
  16. Jeff Johnson

    The best way to handle this situation was to keep it out of the media. Look at all the different opinions you hve received. I feel sorry for your ten year old daughter. Keep it out of the media and you would not have to listen to all the negative feedback. I hope your daughter is ok.

    Reply
  17. WhoCares

    There are millions of people who live in Houston and only a few thousand work for Continental. Out of the several hundred people I know, only 2 work for Continental (Most work for HP.) So assuming that all the anonymous posting are Continental employees is just as big a leap of guessing as the people who assume you are looking to sue.

    Yes, you are due some compensation and corrections need to be made. Not every one in Houston is against you. Hope it all works out well for you.

    And why do so many posters use “your” and “you’re” incorrectly????? Morons indeed.

    Reply
  18. Pingback: Continental Airlines flies ten year old girl to the wrong airport | iMaruti.com

  19. SYR

    OMG, I am just shocked by the things people are writing to this man. People making such horrible comments must not have children. As a mother of two, I would be furious if my daughter/son was put on the wrong flight. OMG, all the horrible things that could have happened. Yes, this man has every right to be mad on so many levels. I would be. A parent is entrusting them to safely get his or her unaccompany child to their location and to make a mistake, a mistake with a person is unexcuseable. Make the mistake with my luggage but not with my child. I am with this man 100% on this issue. There was no excuse for their mistake, none at all!

    Reply
  20. jik Post author

    I was feeling bad for this guy at first…but now I’m starting to think he’s a bit nuts. Why is every person that has a slightly different view on the issue a ‘Continental Employee’.

    The commenters whom I’m referring to as Continental employees are all posting from Houston, Texas, which just happens to be where Continental’s corporate headquarters is located, and which is one of Houston’s largest employers.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that when there’s a flood of anonymous comments from Houston, defending Continental for doing something which was, frankly, indefensible, and accusing me of doing things which it’s patently obvious I’m not trying to do to anyone who bothers to look, the most likely explanation is that these people are Continental employees who don’t want to see their company trashed in public.

    It’s a good thing that the Continental customer relations representative I’ve been dealing with doesn’t act the same way these folks do.

    Reply
  21. jik Post author

    Sounds like you are looking for a payday at your daughter’s expense. People make mistakes. Get over it you nit wit

    Here we have yet another anonymous Continental Houston employee making her employer look bad.

    Let’s review, for those who are reading-impaired: (1) my in-laws paid for my daughter’s ticket, so if the fare is refunded, they get the money, not me; (2) what I’ve asked them to do is upgrade my in-laws and daughter to first-class on their trip to Boston in two weeks, something which essentially costs them nothing and from which neither I nor my in-laws will profit at all, just to give them a positive experience to offset the negative one and to show that Continental actually cares.

    Reply
  22. Britt

    Sounds like you are looking for a payday at your daughter’s expense. People make mistakes. Get over it you nit wit

    Reply
  23. Former CO Employee

    One last thing, for those saying that it’s ExpressJet and not Continental – I do believe Continental employees handle the airport/gate operations for ExpressJet. Hence, it was a CO employee who put your daughter on the wrong plane.

    Only way to know which plane was going where would be the tail number. Most people who do not work in the industry would have no idea which plane was going to Newark or Cleveland, so I don’t expect you to either. This is to address those idiots who said you should have known.

    And Continental Express, the original name of ExpressJet, was part of CO until they decided to IPO the regional jet subsidiary to profit from that hot market back when regional airline stocks were the craze. ExpressJet headquarters is located in the same building as CO and most of the people are former CO employees who run it.

    Reply
  24. Former CO Employee

    I used to work for CO for over a decade. There are many good people who work there, and then there are those who do the minimum to get by. I know when Gordon Bethune was in charge, this problem would be addressed immediately. Now that Larry Kellner is at the helm, I’m not too sure as he is more focused on the financial numbers than customer service.

    I also noticed Julie King wasn’t the spokeswoman replying to reporters’ questions, which is puzzling, unless she recently left. Julie is also an outstanding person and she would have given a much better answer than Kelly Cripe, who sounded like a snobby, heartless B in her prepared statement.

    Several years back, an elderly gentleman was on a Lima flight inbound to IAH, and waiting in the galley as passengers were boarding on one side, and food was being loaded on the other side of the plane. He was waiting for a flight attendant to escort him to his seat as he was handicapped. He stood in the galley for awhile (way too long as he was in a wheelchair), and as the plane became crowded, he accidentally stepped back to give boarding passengers more room. He didn’t notice the vehicle loading the food had pulled away and fell out of the plane onto the tarmac, and died.

    I was working operations that night when the call came and it was the most disturbing thing that happened in my career there. CO provided free tickets for his immediate family, and I authorized business first upgrades for the entire party traveling, but to me even that gesture would never be enough.

    But the point of my comment is that there are people who do care about the passengers and what goes on. Unfortunately, all it takes are some who do the bare minimum to get by that screws it up, and makes the entire company look bad.

    You should get a refund, and free upgrades, and even ask for a President’s Club membership for the whole family. And I’m really glad your daughter finally made it safely to her destination.

    As a parent, I can also understand the suffering you must have endured wondering if your child was going to be safe at the airport by herself. Those who think otherwise ARE morons as you posted. If put in the same situation, those bashing you would not be reacting with the same calm and rationale you have expressed on here.

    Best of luck!

    Reply
  25. Josh

    I’m a parent, and I understand how you must have felt during the time during which you didn’t know where your daughter was. I think you are totally in the right to want compensation for the stress caused by the ordeal. And not really even because they made a mistake – stuff happens, and that’s life – but because they so poorly handled their mistake. If they had realized they had made an error and then quickly and competently figured out what had happened to your daughter, that would have been one thing. But it was left up to you to figure it out and tell THEM.. that is just outrageous, and they should try to set things right by acknowledging how poorly they performed.

    Reply
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  28. abbasegal

    Thinking about this, I bet this sort of thing happens all the time. Usually, though, people just swallow it and move on. It was Continental’s misfortune that they screwed up with someone who actually demands customer service and publicizes it when companies don’t care!

    At the end of the day, hopefully this will indeed shame them (and other airlines) into instituting better procedures to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

    Reply
  29. JonA

    Hardly frivolous, you basically compared a child to the shipping of a package, well played sir, well played indeed.

    Reply
  30. Ryan

    I was feeling bad for this guy at first…but now I’m starting to think he’s a bit nuts. Why is every person that has a slightly different view on the issue a ‘Continental Employee’.

    You have even accused a few people of that who have said “I’m sorry about your daughter”. Then they share their opinion and you accuse them of being employees of Continental who are here to spin this into a better light.

    I’m sure you will call me a Continental Employee too…but I’m not. I’ve never worked for an airline. Just someone who thinks you might want to adjust the tinfoil hat you have on…I think some of your brain waves are getting picked up by my FM Radio.

    Reply
  31. JonA

    Mike, are you saying that when we send our kids out in public unaccompanied by us that we should perhaps put shipment trackers on them so we can make sure they make it to their destination intact? Sounds like a legitimate argument to me…

    Reply
  32. Mike (Republic of Texas)

    Did you put a label / sign on your daughter with the appropriate addresses of where she originated and her destination including contact numbers for both sides of the trip? You would do that for a package that you were shipping via UPS or FedEx, so why were you treating her less important than some package that you might ship? As far as I’m concerned, your claim against Continental is minimal at best. Maybe you can claim the difference between a non-stop flight and however many stops that flight made, but that’s about it. The fact that the are willing to refund the unaccompanied minor fee is just generosity. If you didn’t take due diligence in labeling your “package”, then their liability for shipping it via the “scenic route” is very minimal. It’s not like they *lost* your “package”, right?

    Typical Yankee… Thinks the world owes them something…

    Reply
  33. JonA

    I don’t really get why people are coming on here to attack this guy, if I had a kid and for a solid hour wondering whether or not I was ever going to see them again because some airline had a little mix up, I’m fairly certain I would be livid. Anyone who says otherwise either has no heart or is too immature to understand a parent’s feelings towards their child.

    Reply
  34. Meteor Wrongs

    Alex: your language speaks volumes about you. Nuff Said!

    Reply
  35. Meteor Wrongs

    I fully understand how this situation is so distressing. My 9 yr. old grandson flies frequently to & from Houston-Nashville and the thought of him landing somewhere without parents/grandparents waiting for him is devastating. Personally, I would be upset if it was me, let alone a child. How could so many “mistakes” be made on one flight? And the offer to refund the unaccompanied minor fee is beyond ridiculous.

    Reply
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  37. mc

    Just had to say that I completely agree with your reaction and your position. In particular, it’s very disturbing that they blew the passenger count on TWO flights. I flew alone many, many times as a minor, and always felt safe with my flight attendant escorts, who were very solicitous and checked on me often. Apparently this is another service airline employees are not delivering. Good luck.

    Reply
  38. jik Post author

    In this day and age children should not be allowed to travel alone period.

    So, let me see if I’ve got this straight…

    We can trust the airlines to maintain huge, complex machines with millions of interconnected parts that hurl through the air at hundreds of miles per hour, but we can’t trust them to get a child from point A to point B without losing her.

    But hey, if you think children should not be allowed to travel alone, why don’t you try to convince your employer, Continental airlines, to stop offering the unaccompanying minor service. Yes, folks, it’s another comment from an anonymous Continental employee in Houston!

    Reply
  39. Kha

    In this day and age children should not be allowed to travel alone period. Sorry for your kid getting lost but I agree these airlines are not baby sitters even though they try…please do not send your kids alone out like sheep among wolves. One day you may not even get to complain only cry because the kid is gone or lost for good.

    Reply
  40. jik Post author

    so I am not sure if you answered, was your child scarred from this bad travel experience,

    I doubt it.

    is your reaction making it worse….

    How would my daughter know anything about my “reaction?” She is in Cleveland right now and I am in Boston. I certainly have not discussed with her how terrified I was when she was missing, nor do I have any intention of doing so. And I have told all media outlets who inquired about this story that they are not permitted to interview my daughter. She may not have been freaked out before, but she surely will be if I let umpteen gazillion newspaper reporters ask her on camera whether she was scared.

    you certainly say that you are not going to sue, but appeare to leave the option open.. “You can bet they’ll be refunding a lot more than that fee by the time I’m done with them” that is basically a threat, is there another way to take it.

    If you think that suing a company is the only way to get them to compensate you for bad service, you are confused.

    Here’s a clue: another way is to embarrass them in the media into admitting that they screwed up and owe something to the aggrieved party to make up for it.

    you are full of angst, but your not down at the airport, yelling at some poor sap manager, but at home.

    Um, what? I’m afraid you’re making no sense.

    a cascade of failure probably not, if a airline employee escorted the daughter on the plane, pretty sure that there would be no issue.

    Right. Do you even understand what “a cascade of failure” means? That’s your term, not mine, but in any case it’s correct. If the first failure had not occurred, there would have been no problem, but there were at least four opportunities after that first failure for Continental to figure out that something was up and fix it, and they missed all of them. See, that’s what a cascade of failure is. Get it?

    security at the gate is minimal, I am sure you have flown so throwing some national security issue in there is not germaine to your arguement.

    Um, what? Again, you make no sense.

    What does make sense is that this is yet another anonymous comment posted by a Continental employee in Houston. If you people are going to make these lame attempts to place the blame on me for your employer’s screwup, then the least you could do is find a way to hide your IP address so it isn’t obvious that you’re coming from Houston, eh?

    Reply
  41. John

    I just got a 300 dollar refund for an airline that was late for 12 hours, also got vouchers for food at the airport. Sounds to me you should get more than that. Just keep at it with them and they will hook you up. I am also from Houston, but do not work for an airline. Glad your daughter is now safe.

    Reply
  42. fencesitter

    so I am not sure if you answered, was your child scarred from this bad travel experience, is your reaction making it worse….

    you certainly say that you are not going to sue, but appeare to leave the option open.. “You can bet they’ll be refunding a lot more than that fee by the time I’m done with them” that is basically a threat, is there another way to take it.

    you are full of angst, but your not down at the airport, yelling at some poor sap manager, but at home.

    a cascade of failure probably not, if a airline employee escorted the daughter on the plane, pretty sure that there would be no issue.

    security at the gate is minimal, I am sure you have flown so throwing some national security issue in there is not germaine to your arguement.

    Reply
  43. dee

    “if someone can buy a ticket for a regional jet flight, go down the jetway to the tarmac, and then sneak behind a pillar and hide rather than boarding the plane, and no one on the flight crew notices that a passenger has disappeared, then doesn’t that person now have essentially free rein over the entire airport tarmac?”

    I was with you until the tarmac part. I was thinking they’d have an airtight alibi. But, of course you are also right.

    I am glad your daughter made it safely!

    Reply
  44. jik Post author

    They are not babysitters.

    Um, actually, when you pay Continental the $75 fee they demand for a minor to fly unaccompanied, and they tell you that in exchange they will take care of your child for you and ensure that s/he reaches his/her destination safely, they are babysitters, and in fact babysitters that you’ve paid for.

    Perhaps you should have been there with your 10 year old.

    Right, it’s my fault. Whatever you say.

    I suppose it’s not surprising that something like this would be posted by yet another anonymous Continental employee posting from Houston. Way to make your employer look good!

    Reply
  45. Chris

    They are not babysitters. Perhaps you should have been there with your 10 year old.

    Reply
  46. Carl

    Your actions seem to be reasonable to me. A refund of the entire fare is appropriate. They did not deliver the service contracted for. How anyone can see this differently is beyond me.

    I am sure their is one person with enough customer service (read: public perception awareness) savvy who will make this right.

    Let us know what happens.

    Reply
  47. jik Post author

    I feel bad that this mishap happened to your daughter but……..

    Actually, I’m pretty sure you don’t.

    give me a break…why weren’t you at the gate to make sure which plane the agent put her on???

    I was at the gate, which you’d know if you’d bothered to read my blog entry.

    There were two planes being boarded from the same gate at the same time. That’s almost certainly a violation of Continental procedures and probably a violation of Massport regulations and/or FAA regulations as well.

    Perhaps you can suggest how I might have known which of the two planes on the tarmac was destined for Cleveland which was destined for Newark?

    I am, frankly, not even sure I would have been able to see which plane they put my daughter on, because as I recall, they were both at least partially obscured from sight by the jetway and other equipment. But even if I had been able to see, I would have had no way of knowing which plane was which.

    Perhaps you think I should have demanded that the gate agent allow me to escort my daughter onto the plane? Yeah, right, I’m sure they would have let me do that. Not.

    do you really need to sue the airline.

    I’m sorry, but do you see me saying anywhere that I’m going to sue the airline?

    I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that this particular comment was posted from Houston, where Continental is headquartered and most of its employees live.

    Reply
  48. jik Post author

    Do you know their success rate at getting children to their destination, if its 99.99 percent, do they have to do anything???

    Yes.

    Putting a child on the wrong plane; letting two planes take off without correct passenger manifests, one of which with a passenger onboard who is not even listed on the manifest; letting a child sit for an hour at an airport with no one at that airport noticing that she’s not supposed to be there. These are mistakes that should never happen. Not 5% of the time, not 1% of the time, not 0.01% of the time. They should never happen.

    And even if you want to say that each of these mistakes by itself is understandable, certainly the combination of them all together leading to my daughter being lost for several hours absolutely, positively, should never happen.

    In any case, your question is bogus. According to one of the reporters I spoke with today, this happens far more regularly than we hear about in the news. You can also get that impression from some of the comments at Consumerist.

    >>
    First of all, if you don’t think that I and my family suffered yesterday, then you’re a moron.

    Ah I see the insults come quickly, your suffering was 45 min which again goes to being calm, and rational about the experience.

    I stand by what I said. Any of the people commenting on this incident who don’t think any “harm” was done to my family yesterday are morons.

    >>
    You can bet they’ll be refunding a lot more than that fee by the time I’m done with them

    So which is it??
    If your only after a refund of the fee for the services performed then I have no issue and think you have taken a high road.

    They offered to refund the $75 unaccompanied minor fee. That’s not acceptable. They should have offered to refund my daughter’s entire fare. I expect that they will offer to refund my daughter’s fare, because I have to assume that there is at least one person at Continental who understands that they screwed up big-time and one refunded ticket plus a couple of first-class upgrades is a small price to pay to make them look like they actually care.

    Look at how people perceive you here in the comments section because they assume your going to try and profit from this.

    People who make unwarranted assumptions are not worth my time and energy worrying about.

    I have never said I was going to sue the airline. In fact, every time anyone has asked me if I plan on retaining a lawyer or suing the airline over this, I’ve said no. I even told this to one of the reporters who interviewed me today on camera.

    I will put pressure on the airline to offer to my family the appropriate gestures to indicate that they actually understand they screwed up big-time and want to make it right. If they choose not to do so, well then, they’ll just make themselves look bad. I publicized this incident for two reasons: (a) to force them to make changes to make it less likely that something like this would happen again; and (b) to give them an opportunity to prove that they deep down, somebody at Continental actually cares about customer service.

    For what it’s worth, Continental used to be my favorite airline and the one I used most frequently.

    They have an opportunity here to at leat partially redeem themselves. Whether they take advantage of it is up to them.

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