Monday, May 12, 2008
Continental made us miss our flight...
I am at the airport in Houston at the moment. I am actually supposed to be on a plane right now, on the way to Toronto. But I am not. I blame Continental. Here is why:
Our flight was supposed to leave at 12:30 from Houston directly to Toronto. We checked the flight status before we left home this morning, and it showed as "now leaving at 12:48". This gave us a little more time, but we still decided to come to the airport relatively early, since this is an international flight. (Even though we were already checked in, are Continental Elite members, and don't check luggage). So by the time we made it through security, and got something to eat, we were still at the gate before 11. This is one of the small gates, since the flight is operated by Express Jet, which is basically the Continental City Hopper brand (I think). When we arrived, the place was a madhouse, since there were several flights ahead of us, and all those people were still at our gate. So we sat down a few seats over.
We also checked the monitors a few more times. Still, the same departure time was showing. (In fact, I even twittered about the flight being late, so people in Toronto would know to expect us a little late...).
Long story short: At close to 12:30, we were starting to wonder what had happened. So we checked the monitors again, and the flight was not even listed anymore! So we walked up to the gate-desk (this is one of those desks int he middle of the terminal that is shared by about 10 gates), and they told us the flight had left! Hu? All of a sudden it had left early?!? Apparently so. Why did nobody tell us? Well, they claimed they made an announcement, but we sure didn't hear anything. Granted, we were about 50 or 60 feet from our gate, but why the hell would they make an announcement you cannot hear 2 speakers over?!? I heard all the other flight announcements! So *if* they announced it at all, they certainly didn't make a great effort. Is it possible that I missed one announcement? I'd be surprised, since I was paying attention (I was already wondering what was going on), but I guess it is possible that I missed *one* announcement. I still don't think so.
How could we have even missed all the people boarding?!? I am not sure. I even made a point to try watch the gate. I guess this was just one of those really small flights with only a handful of people checking in.
So here is was really pushes my buttons though:
The customer service reps weren't sorry that we missed the flight. They basically told us that "we have made plenty of announcements and all the other people got on [you dumbasses]!". They treated us like a bunch of complete idiots! What ever happened with "the customer is always right or at least has a point"? Even if I *did* show up late for my flight (which is not the case), or even if I did miss 10 announcements (which I guarantee you is not the case), as a frequent flyer (and Continental shareholder, I might add), I would at least expect a friendly rep that helps me get on the next flight. But apparently, these people take the "the customer is always a retard" attitude. Missing a flight is not the end of the world, but the way they handled the situation was just about as bad as they possibly could if they tried to piss me off. I feel insulted and am completely pissed off at Continental. And their "I don't give a fu.." attitude pretty much confirms that they just didn't really care whether I made that flight or not. In fact, they even lied to us telling us that the flight was never late. In terms of customer service, it doesn't get much worse than lying to your customer.
I guess as far as airlines go, it is still the same status quo: The customer doesn't really have a choice, so they can provide service that would not be acceptable in any other industry. After all, if I want to travel from Houston to Toronto, I realistically don't have a choice of carriers, no matter what anyone tells you.
So now we are at the Continental President's Club. We had to pay to get in. It would have been a simple matter to let us in for free after all this. Probably would have been enough to make me a happy customer after all. I am not even looking to eat any of their food. Just looking for a semi-comfortable place to sit, a power outlet, and an Internet connection. How much could that have possibly cost them compared to the trouble and expense they are causing me (I am missing an important business meeting tonight because of this). But nope. No seat for you!
And then Continental wonders and sends me marketing messages about why I am not a Platinum member anymore like I used to be. Heck, I am quickly approaching a point where I wonder whether it is worth being a Continental Elite member of any level!
Update: After I blogged about this from the Continental Club, we went back downstairs to get on the later flight. While we were there waiting, I took extra care to pay attention to the announcements and boarding procedures. It is now much clearer to me why we missed our flight. As it turns out there are no real flight announcements! The airline representatives simply stood at the little door next to the gate and *said* the row number that was about to board the plane. And not very loudly at that. No speaker systems were used for most flights (I only saw them use the PA for one of the flights... so obviously it was working, but for some reason they didn't use it...). So unless you were right there, you had no way to know your flight was leaving.
In fact, we watched several flights where they didn't have all the people that were supposed to be on the flight. They just stood there and *said* the name of the person missing. "Last call for Mr. [Smith]". No speakers. Didn't even raise their voices. Unless Mr. [Smith] was already within 10 feet of the counter, (in which case there was no need to call him out), there simply was no way for Mr. [Smith] to hear the "announcement". One of the flights we watched being boarded this way had a guy walk up to the desk right after it left, asking when his flight was going to leave. They told him that he missed it and they made several announcements to try to find him. This is a flat out lie. We watched the whole process unfold, and not once did they use the speaker system to call for him. And only twice did they say his name at the gate. Of course they still told him it was his on fault for missing the flight. I talked to him afterwards. He said "...I am not sure how I could have missed it... I just sat here and read...". Yeah, I agree. It wasn't your fault, buddy!
Why all this was going on, I have no clue. Obviously they have a working PA system there. Laziness cannot explain this. After all, it isn't much more work to use the PA system, and having to deal with several disgruntled travelers for every flight can't be that much fun. So I am puzzled.
If you are following me on Twitter (http://twitter.com/markusegger), you could see the whole thing unfold in real time. Here is a recap of my Twitter posts from that day in reverse chronological order (in other words: read from the bottom up):
- And to top things off, it is now after 10, so all the restaurants are closed... 09:14 PM May 12, 2008 from web
- Hm... And no wireless web either. Well silly me, expecting such luxury in a Hilton... 09:10 PM May 12, 2008 from web
- Ah f... and no mini bar either. How can a hotel that charged $250/night (special conf rate) not have a minibar?!? 08:52 PM May 12, 2008 from web
- @TheADOGuy yeah no kidding. And for no reason really. Just because people don't care enough to do a good job. 08:36 PM May 12, 2008 from web in reply to TheADOGuy
- Hotel is oversold. Apparently that is now my problem and my fault because I showed up so late in the day. If they only knew... 08:35 PM May 12, 2008 from web
- At the hotel. Now they do not have any king size bed rooms anymore. And no record that my room us paid for. Argh. Not my day today... 08:24 PM May 12, 2008 from web
- landed in Toronto. No more major incidents. Amazing! :-) 07:23 PM May 12, 2008 from web
- On the plane now. AC not working right. This is getting better and better. I guess AC doesn't matter on flights to Toronto. 04:14 PM May 12, 2008 from ThinCloud
- This is all very weird. Every flight has people missing. Ground crew doesn't care. It's almost like Continental is on strike or something. 04:12 PM May 12, 2008 from ThinCloud
- We watched it all. No announcements. Just said a name. No speaker. No way anyone could have heard it unless they were already in line. 04:10 PM May 12, 2008 from ThinCloud
- Talked to the guy. Says he just sat there reading a mag for the last hour. Continental rep told him she made several announcements. 04:08 PM May 12, 2008 from ThinCloud
- Some guy just walked up to the desk and raises he'll bacause he missed his flight... 03:58 PM May 12, 2008 from ThinCloud
- Now, a bunch of people are missing their flight to Lake Charles. She just *said* their names. I didn't understand them. I am 8 chairs away. 03:53 PM May 12, 2008 from ThinCloud
- @jeffreypalermo And I am going to miss it because of that damn airline. Grrrrrrrrr... 03:50 PM May 12, 2008 from ThinCloud in reply to jeffreypalermo
- Looks like a whole bunch of people are missing their flight to Wichita. Surprise. I am 5 feet from the desk and can't hear them. Outrageouso 03:43 PM May 12, 2008 from web
- paying close attention to the announcements now. Turns out they are not using a speaker system. They are just *saying* "boarding row...". 03:38 PM May 12, 2008 from web
- @olivers A piece of wood about 2x4 inches thick and incidentally something I could have made good use of at the airport today. 03:35 PM May 12, 2008 from web in reply to olivers [question about what it is that American's call a "2x4")
- Hard to belive but true: Continental just sent me a marketing email as to how I get to a higher elite status. Not the best timing, fellas... 02:22 PM May 12, 2008 from twhirl
- Blogged about the flight screwup (and passed it on to some friends inside Continental): http://snurl.com/28ipw Still seriously pissed. 01:46 PM May 12, 2008 from twhirl
- @akselsoft Missin the flight is not the end of the world. What is pissing me off is how I am being treated here. 01:07 PM May 12, 2008 from web in reply to akselsoft
- Makes me real proud to be a Continental shareholder and frequent flyer. Real proud... 12:57 PM May 12, 2008 from ThinCloud
- Now they are acting as if the are doing us a favor by putting us on a later flight. Jerks. 12:55 PM May 12, 2008 from ThinCloud
- How about at least make an announcement, assholes? I was 50 feet from your desk and you couldn't have told me!?!?! 12:54 PM May 12, 2008 from ThinCloud
- And then they are lying to us saying the flight was never late. It f-ing showed as late before we left home. It showed late everywhere here. 12:52 PM May 12, 2008 from ThinCloud
- Missed the flight. Argh! First it showed late. Then it left early. No announcments made. F... you, Continental! 12:50 PM May 12, 2008 from ThinCloud
- At IAH waiting for the flight to Toronto. It says there is a slight delay. 11:24 AM May 12, 2008 from ThinCloud
- On the way to the airport. Flying to Toronto for DevTeach today. 10:35 AM May 12, 2008 from twhirl
Posted @ 1:42 PM by Egger, Markus (email@example.com)