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Honeymoon Nightmare

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 other flights).

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.



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