Airline Service: This Time It’s Continental

by Melissa Clouthier | December 19, 2008 2:13 pm

Airline service is a non-sequitor. I sit here listening to my daughter sing in the shower, in the Hilton LAX where I’ve been residing since 1:30 a.m. I should be nearly to Sydney, Australia by now. But no.

Airplane travel sucks. As if you don’t know this. Continental, the current baddie, is usually better than this. Although, I’ve battled a bad attitude ever since they started charged $15 a bag. That was for high gas prices and extra weight. Yeah, gas prices have dropped. No, the fees didn’t go away. But still, at least they would give you a drink and throw you some pretzels. On U.S. Air recently, they wanted to charge me $2 for a cup of water–not even a bottle of water. I opted for dehydration.

Yesterday though, was irritating. We had a 7 p.m. flight to LA. At 11:45 p.m. California time, we were to board a plane to Sydney. Three hours should be plenty of time to layover, right? Um, no. When I boarded the plane to CA, after waiting with no sold information for 2 1/2 hours in Houston, I told the main Stewardess, “It’s going to be close, can you call Qantas and tell them?” I could tell by her reaction that she didn’t care. And she didn’t. When we ran to the Qantas counter at 11:45 p.m., the flight to Sydney was delayed, but they had closed up shop. There was no getting through. It was also the first they’d heard of our late flight.

We were at the airport until 1 a.m. sorting out luggage. The line for Continental was at least 250 people deep. The misery index high. Three planes had missed connections by less than 10 minutes. How is it economical for the airlines to fly half-full? I’d really like to know how that’s a good business model.

Continental failed at communication, empathy, efficiency and humanity. They knew we’d miss our connections and didn’t inform us so we could plan ahead. They made it seem like we still could get where we needed to go, so we tried to find a solution when they knew there was none, but it deflected immediate pressure. They alternately told us that the problem was one of the engines and the weather. So, we weren’t sure if we should be worried about the plane’s safety.

Here’s how bad the service was on the plane: Another Continental pilot was connecting to a flight he was going to be captaining to Hong Kong. His new plane was 2 minutes from lift-off. (Of course it couldn’t go anywhere without him.) The stewardess didn’t arrange for him to get off the plane first. The workers on the plane were absolutely rude to him and the rest of the frantic passengers. They didn’t care.

You know it’s bad when the flight crew disrespects one of its own. What is wrong with these people? The pilot said, “I don’t know how much longer I can work for this company.”

And I don’t know how long these lame ass companies can stay in business. A year from now, they’ll be barking about wanting another bailout and wondering why no one flies. And if all goes the way it usually does, they’ll be bailed out by the very tax payers they defecate on every day.

Cross-posted at[1]


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