I wanted to share a recent travel nightmare that my fiancé and I
encountered on our last ever Continental Airlines flight.
Returning from New England, in a newly engaged, happy haze, my
fiancé and I boarded our first leg of our journey home to
Honolulu. Continental had oversold the flight, creating a delay
that was just long enough to cause us to miss our connection in
Newark. "No worry," we thought, as we had 10 hours to make our
connection from San Francisco to Honolulu. First mistake.
Always be concerned. The Continental customer service agent
insisted that the only available flight was one that left four
hours later and would get us to SFO 25 minutes before our Delta
flight took off for Honolulu (I found out later that there were
I pleaded for her to search for something else
but she insisted that 25 minutes was sufficient time to de-plane, run to another part of the San Francisco airport, check
in, go through security, and get to the gate before the doors
close. I wasn't fooled but if there were no other flights,
there were no other flights, right? We did of course miss our
flight. Delta tried to help but told us that everything going
to Honolulu was oversold for the next four days. The dental
convention. The prospects of flying standby were not promising.
We were directed to Continental, after all, it was their fault,
they should help us get home.
Again to Continental customer service we staggered, hopeful that
the people in California might be more compassionate than those
in New Jersey. If there's one thing I've come to learn, airline
employees are numb to the suffering of others. They've seen it
day after day for too long. They no longer care, nor do they
pretend to. We were told by the Continental agent that the only
way we could be assured a flight home before the weekend (this
was Tuesday) was to fly BACK to Newark and take a direct flight
to Honolulu. I wept for us both.
With tears streaming down my
face I begged this agent person to put us another airline,
anything other than Newark. I just couldn't do it. The thought
of going back to where we started nearly 11 hours earlier was
too much to bear. She clicked some keys and looked at her
screen and told us that with the kind of fares we purchased, we
were not eligible to fly on another carrier. We hadn't paid
enough. We were doomed to suffer. And suffer we did for the
next 24 hours. In Newark again, our flight was delayed. I paid
my respects to the same evil woman who initiated our nightmare.
She was back at work at the customer service counter, refreshed
from her evening at home, that probably included a nice dinner
and a restful slumber. Boy, was she surprised to see me! I
tearfully asked for her name for the letter that I would later
write to Continental. She handed me a sticky note with an
illegible signature. I was too exhausted to object. We did
finally make it to Honolulu, 36 hours from the time we boarded
that first leg of our journey home.