I just received about the lamest answer from Continental after presenting them with my complaint, a $75 coupon. I was flying into Ponce, through Newark on the 11th of December. Due to weather, supposedly, I missed my connection in Newark and I was left at 1AM, with no bags or vouchers, or apologies, or upgrades of any sort. The next flight was 24 hours away, only one flight a day. I’m attaching the emails I’ve exchanged with them in hope that you’ll publish them and perhaps cause them some well-deserved shame and bad publicity. I can’t believe they boast of ‘best in customer satisfaction.’
Subject: Flight Experience
Message: To Customer Relations Representatives,
I would like to share with the company what I can only classify as a series of blunders, characterized by indifference. I booked a ticket for myself, and later, for my cat at the cost of $711.70. The first leg of the flight was #1174 to Newark, the second was #336 to Ponce.
Flight #1174 was delayed for several hours, supposedly, and I emphasize that, for weather related reasons. I was very concerned because I was not only traveling with my cat but also because I knew if I missed my connection that would mean I would be stranded for the day. I was assured confidently by the woman at the boarding gate that if I were to miss my flight, I would be put for the night in Newark. What can I say? I was an optimist but I knew deep down that your airline would sooner crash my plane. My real hope was that since Newark was the one experiencing delays, as they announced over the speakers, my connection might still be there. But lo and behold, I arrive at Newark, a supposed contributor to my flight’s delay and somehow the airport seems fine, my connection departed at least close to on time. Two agents (one a supervisor I believe) re-booked me for the next day, with no upgrade or apology or so much as something that might seem as sympathy. The only thing they offered was to book me to San Juan, which is as helpful as offering to rebook someone going to Philadelphia, to fly into New York. Not helpful at all. I was informed that I would probably not get anything. It’s then 1AM, and the agents at the gate inform me that I should go to Terminal C to gather my bag and perhaps get a voucher. I go to Terminal C, and only the bag office is open, I speak to an agent there ( I wish I had written down names at this point), who informs me there are no more hotel vouchers, customer service reps, no taxi vouchers and that bag is in some cage up somewhere so I’ve utterly wasted my time carrying my bags and my cat at this late hour in the Newark airport on the airtrain.
I fortunately have some friends in the city, because I do believe that the hotels were booked, you know, with the “delays” and those people that got vouchers earlier. So I arrive at the empty terminal on time for my flight that day, at the kiosks, I get nothing but attitude when I ask to check-in, since I was so interrupting their little chat. They didn’t have the decency to point me in the direction of the open security point, or otherwise did not know which one was the only one open at that hour. The agent I spoke to from the bag office the previous night, asks me how I’m doing, and I answer truthfully, “fucked” , I say. And you know what, I meant it. He’s apparently offended at my language and after I ask where the open security point is, he begins to scornfully complain that “stuff like that is why people don’t want to help you. ” … and on, until I finally find the security point myself. I would like to reiterate that I stayed calm, that I never yelled, or complained and that I only responded to a direct question honestly when I was at the end of my rope with your agents at this point.
I am aggravated with your whole airline and frankly, I’m not looking forward to the return flight at all.
Dear Ms. [redacted]:
Thank you for contacting Continental Airlines Customer Care regarding your recent experience while traveling with us to Ponce. I would like to express my sincerest apologies for the negative impression that has been left upon you, and thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with us.
I do see that flight 1174 departed late from Chicago due to Air Traffic Control (ATC) clearance, as both Newark and Chicago were experiencing some weather, which caused a strain on the airspace around both airports. I do see that this flight arrived into Newark at 12:38AM, and your connection to Ponce did depart 63 minutes late, at 12:58AM. I know how disappointing it was for you to miss your connection, and I assure you that it was not our intention to cause you any inconveniences or additional out of pocket expenses.
We do expect our ground crew to provide the best available accommodations to passengers affected by this unfortunate circumstance of missed connections, and based upon your description; we did not fulfill your, or our, expectations of service. The behavior you described receiving in Newark, I assure you is not typical of the service we provide, no matter what the circumstances are, and on behalf of Continental Airlines, I extend my sincere apologies for the negative impression we may have created. All of our employees from reservations to the in-flight crew and everyone in between are expected to provide a friendly, efficient service, and I regret that this is not what you experienced. We realize that their response to your requests make the difference in your perception of our overall product.
I know that you were disappointed to hear that we were not going to be able to provide you overnight accommodations or a transportation voucher when you missed this connection to Ponce, as this is not something that we typically provide when delays and missed connections are due to weather, ATC, or other force majeure events. I understand from your correspondence that you are requesting reimbursement for the out of pocket expenses you incurred; however, I must respectfully decline this request, as per our Contract of Carriage, we are not liable to provide these accommodations when delays are due to these circumstances.
As a gesture of goodwill, I will be sending, via a separate email, an Electronic Travel Certificate in the amount of $75. This certificate is valid for one year from the date of issue, and may be applied towards any future flight on Continental Airlines. The terms and conditions are clearly printed on the certificate and I am sure you will find it easy and convenient to use. I do sincerely hope that you will use this certificate and afford us another opportunity to win back your trust.
I have also prepared a detailed report containing your experiences, as you recounted in your correspondence to us, and I will be including it in our monthly Customer Care report, which is distributed to our Senior Management teams for their further internal review and corrective actions. I assure you that the feedback we receive from our passengers is taken very seriously, as we are continually striving to improve our customer’s experiences.
We do recognize you have alternatives in your choice of carriers. However, we hope you would not judge us based on this experience, as we would consider it a privilege to have you include Continental Airlines in your future travel plans. Please be assured Continental Airlines strives to maintain the highest quality of customer service. I apologize if your experience has not been an example of this and would like to assure you that it was the exception and not the rule.
Ms. [redacted], I understand that this experience with Continental Airlines has left you with a negative impression of our airline. I am quite confident that given another opportunity to welcome you aboard once again you will experience the outstanding service and operational reliability that we traditionally provide.
What do you know? Rita is being “taken seriously.”
Maybe we’re being overly critical, but Sarah does seem to have missed the part where the employee in Chicago told Rita that she would be provided with accommodations if she didn’t make her connection. If that’s not something they “typically provide,” someone should mention it to the employees.