We are not alone

By | June 16, 2009

On Tuesday afternoon, the Houston Chronicle broke the story that just a day before my daughter was put onto the wrong plane by Continental, they did the same thing to an eight-year-old girl in Houston.  She was supposed to be flying to Charlotte, but instead she ended up in Fayetteville, Ark.  Her story is eerily similar to ours, even down to the two ExpressJet planes being boarded on the tarmac through the same gate.

Now we have to ask ourselves an obvious question.  If this kind of thing can happen twice in two days, and if none of the staff members involved in cleaning up the incident involving my daughter on Sunday felt that it was serious enough to warrant initiating damage control procedures at corporate HQ on a weekend, then which is more likely: (a) these are isolated occurrences, highly unusual, which just coincidentally happened one right after the other; or (b) this actually happens on a regular basis, and the only reason it hasn’t come to light before now is because no one has made a fuss about it like I did?

I’m voting for (b).  I think Continental and ExpressJet have a lot to answer for, and I think it’s time for the DOT to start requiring the airlines to report when unaccompanied minors are lost or misrouted.

What do you think?

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3 thoughts on “We are not alone

  1. Frisky070802

    I vote for (b) and agree that requiring this to be logged with the gov’t is an excellent idea.

  2. Kristi

    My experience in no way can compare to your experience but I did experience the lack of competency of Continental and the horrible response and customer service that I received in response to all of this.

    The following occurred on my trip to Cancun and back to to SanDiego.

    I was traveling with my boyfriend. We were supposed to leave San Diego at 6:15am on April 2nd however, due to weather conditions in Houston we were delayed. By the time we got to Houston we had missed our flight.

    We were put on standby for the 2:15pm flight. It was at this time that I emailed Christopherson the travel agency our company works with to let them know the situation and see if they could help. I did receive a call from them once I had made it to Cancun that said that Continental was going to put my boyfriend and I on the priority list for stand by on the 2:15pm flight. This never occurred. I later found on that there is no such thing so I’m not sure who lied at this point the travel agency or continental.

    My boyfriend and I were number 17 and 18 on the standby list. They called both of our names to board the flight and just as we were walking on to the plane they told us,they had made a mistake and that they only had one seat left rather than two. My boyfriend told me to go ahead and he would do standby for the next flight so that I could make it on time to our company event. He was told at that point that he was at the top of the standby list and should be on the 3pm flight with no problem.

    This is where the errors began. Continental entered into their system that my boyfriend had left for Cancun and I was still in the airport. They then put my name at the bottom of the standby list. Because of this when the 3pm flight was boarding they took other standby passengers over my boyfriend. They figured out their mistake on the plane manifests and told my boyfriend that if he didn’t say anything about the situation they would confirm him on the 6pm flight. He finally arrived in Cancun at 9pm at night.

    Then on April 5th we went to check in for our 1:30pm flight to Houston and then our connection to San Diego. At this point the person checking us in by the name of Carolina V. looked very perplexed. I asked her what the problem was and she said at first she couldn’t find me on the flight but then she did and here were my tickets. I looked at my boarding passes and the one from Cancun to Houston was fine but my seat for Houston to San Diego said SBY (Standby). I asked her why I was on Standby and she said that I was going to get my seat in Houston and that I definitely had a seat. I told her that Standby was not a seat. She then told me that everyone who has a contract with Continental was guaranteed a seat and that I was going to be given a seat in Houston. I told her that SBY is not a confirmed seat and that I wanted to speak with a manager. She told me there were no managers working that day. Finally I found a supervisor who was very nice and probably the most helpful out of all the Continental employees I encountered. She explained to me that they didn’t have me listed as having arrived in Cancun and that because of that my flight was canceled and she said “Yes, you are on Standby and not guaranteed a seat at all.” I did let her know that the other employee had lied to me. My best guess is that she didn’t want to deal with the situation and was telling me I had a seat in order to get me off her back. The supervisor tried to get me on another airline but everything was booked so I stayed on standby. We then called my boyfriend’s sister who used to work for Continental and she stayed on the phone for 90 minutes to get me a seat on the flight from Houston to SanDiego. She as an outside source was able to do what Continental was not willing to do for me.

    We finally were on our initial descent into SanDiego and one of the flight attendants walks by and I ask her if she can take my trash. She looks at me and says “I already came through with the trash bag and need to take my seat so I can’t take your trash.” The trash can and bags are right where the flight attendants sit, so I’m not sure what the issue was but felt that this was another negative customer service experience that occurred.

    Finally we arrive in San Diego and my bag has been delayed. The person who works at the baggage claim desk told me my suitcase would be in at 9:30 and delivered around 10:30. At 10:30pm I called the baggage customer care and they said my bag had arrived and that it would be delivered within the next four hour window.

    I was up on and off waiting for my luggage until 4:30am when I called the baggage customer care again and the women that I spoke with told me that she called the delivery person and left him a message and that he would call me back. I asked the service agent if I should call back in five minutes if I don’t hear from him and she said no it could take a while because he could be dropping off bags. I said that shouldn’t take very long maybe a minute or two at the most. I then told her that I had had an awful experience so far and I really needed some help getting this situation resolved. She told me at that point “It could take him a while to deliver the bags if he encounters someone like you, who isn’t happy with their service.” I waited a few minutes and called back. I then spoke with someone who told me my bags wouldn’t be delivered until after 8am. I asked her why I hadn’t been told this information before in fact, I had been told by three separate people that my bags would be delivered last night. She had no explanation for this.

    After dealing with all of this they offered us vouchers for $125 and basically took no responsibility for the situation. They told us that all of this was a result of weather which is just laughable to me. Apparently they see weather to be a good enough reason to lie and to have horrible customer service.

  3. abbasegal

    As I commented in your first post, when it was just you I figured that it likely happened quite frequently, just not to “squeaky wheels” like yourself. The fact that it happened the day before drastically increases the estimated likelihood that it is indeed a frequent occurrence. Hopefully your shedding light on the situation will inspire Continental (and for that matter all the other carriers) to improve their procedures.

    Actually, it sounds like the procedures were OK, it was just the execution of those procedures that leaves a lot to be desired…


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