Continental Airlines

Continental Airlines: This Post Is For You

Derek Transportation 78 Comments

Continental Airlines

On Thursday afternoon, I picked up my mom from the airport in Cancun. She was coming to Mexico for a quick holiday and even though her JetBlue flight had arrived 3 hours late, she was in quite a happy mood upon arrival. Actually, I would have understood had she been in a worse mood, considering what she went through to get here.

A few minutes after her flight from Fort Lauderdale had taken off, the air-conditioning system on board the airplane malfunctioned and the Captain flew the plane in circles for a while as they attempted to fix the issue. Unfortunately, they couldn’t fix the problem and after 30 minutes, with the air on board the aircraft barely breathable, the Captain decided to return to Fort Lauderdale.

Once back on the ground, the passengers waited 30 minutes on board the airplane before being told that they would have to disembark and wait for a new plane to arrive. The problem simply couldn’t be fixed quickly.

After sitting around for another hour and a half, the passengers all boarded a new aircraft that had been flown in and off they finally went to Cancun.

Three hours later than scheduled, the flight arrived.

MY FAVORITE AIRLINE

I’m a huge fan of JetBlue Airlines. If they are flying a route that I need to take, I’ll choose them over any other airline without hesitation. The reason is simple. When I fly with them, I feel as if they care about my business.

Here’s a perfect example: While waiting for a new plane to arrive in Fort Lauderdale, all of the passengers on my mom’s flight were informed that they would be receiving a $50 flight voucher for the inconvenience. Then, upon arrival in Cancun, every single passenger was handed a letter by a friendly JetBlue representative as soon as they stepped off the airplane. The letter consisted of an apology for the day’s events and written documentation that a $50 travel voucher would be received.

Later that night, my mom received an email from JetBlue confirming that the $50 travel voucher had been added to her JetBlue Frequent Flyer account.

That’s customer service.

MY LEAST FAVORITE AIRLINE

After my mom received the email from JetBlue, I commented that, “I wish Continental Airlines was the same. I’ve been waiting 3 months for a hotel room reimbursement that they owe me.”

I’m not very fussy about customer service. As long as I’m treated adequately, I’m happy. However, what does bother me is consistently bad customer service, the kind that leaves me feeling as if a particular company couldn’t care less about having my business.

And that’s exactly how I feel about Continental Airlines.

Back in March, when I had to suddenly change my plans and return to North America from Singapore, I went ahead and booked a flight with Continental Airlines. Then, due to the earthquake and tsunami that took place in Japan, my flight had to be re-routed at the last minute. In the end, I was given a route that required me to spend a night in San Francisco before continuing on to Mexico the following day.

The agent who changed my flight told me not to worry and that all I needed to do was book a hotel room myself and then submit the receipt for reimbursement once I reached my destination. She then strongly recommended that I use Hotels.com to book my hotel, telling me that they are a partner of Continental Airlines, and that booking with them would make the reimbursement procedure much easier.

It sounded good to me.

Three flights and an overnight stay at the Best Western Plus in San Francisco later, I was where I needed to be.

Hotels.com Receipt

CONTINENTAL’S VERSION OF CUSTOMER SERVICE

It’s been 3 months since that journey and I’ve still yet to receive my reimbursement.

Continental Airlines keeps asking me to provide the original receipt from the Best Western Plus. And I keep explaining to them that this is impossible.

When using Hotels.com (again, the hotel booking website that Continental told me to use), you end up paying Hotels.com directly and they then go ahead and pay the hotel. As a result, the hotel that you stay at will either provide you with a receipt that has a $0 balance or simply not provide you with a receipt at all (as was my case).

So, despite explaining this upon submitting my hotel reimbursement request, as instructed, using the online form on Continental Airlines’ website, I kept receiving emails telling me that:

An original check-out receipt from the hotel is required for reimbursement purposes.

And I kept replying with emails such as this one:

I just want to clarify. The Continental Airlines customer service rep that I spoke with recommended that I use Hotels.com to book my hotel and then submit it for reimbursement. And by using Hotels.com, customers pay the website directly and therefore do not receive a receipt from the hotel. However, you require a receipt from the hotel, which the hotel cannot provide? Clearly there is something wrong with this.

Eventually, back in April, I was instructed to send all of my documentation (the same documentation I had already emailed) by regular mail to the Customer Care Center’s office.

And that’s exactly what I did, along with another letter explaining the situation.

STILL WAITING

After 2 months passed without any response, I decided to call the Customer Care Center a few days ago and find out what’s going on.

Of course, it took two days to actually reach a Customer Care representative because every phone number I dialed led me to the reservations line. I would then wait on hold for 30 minutes only to be transferred by a reservations agent to the Custom Care department, leaving me to wait on hold for another painfully long period of time.

And when I finally did speak with someone, this is what happened:

  • I asked for the direct Customer Care telephone number, and was told that Continental Airlines no longer has a direct number to the Customer Care Center. Everybody is now required to wait on hold to speak with a reservations agent before waiting on hold again in order to speak with a Customer Care representative. Not a good start to the conversation.
  • After looking up my case ID number, the representative gave me a long run around that included such statements as: ‘your case is pending’, ‘the manager in charge of your case is off duty today’, ‘only two executive managers in the company have the power to approve hotel reimbursements’ (really?), ‘these two executive managers are very busy and the claims process is complicated and takes time’, ‘the assistant manager working on your case does not have the ability to approve reimbursements’ and finally, ‘there is a chance that the executive managers will deny your claim’.
  • I then informed the representative that denying my claim was not an option I would accept and she simply replied that nothing else could be done at that moment to help me.

All of this nonsense for a $113 hotel reimbursement.

Continental Airlines has so far required me to wait 3 months, write 9 emails, make 5 phone calls and wait on hold for a total of 2 hours while an assistant manager and two executive managers go through what should not be a ‘complicated process’ in order for me to receive my legitimate claim.

JetBlue Airlines

JetBlue, on the other hand, had a letter and a $50 flight voucher waiting for passengers upon arrival in Cancun because of a simple 3-hour delay. JetBlue not only showed that they care about their customers, but they also avoided receiving 150 angry phone calls from those passengers.

Continental could learn a few lessons here. I’ve been growing increasingly frustrated with each phone call and email I’ve had to make as I repeatedly discover that Continental really doesn’t care a walrus’s eyelash about having me as a customer.

Not only that but I just can’t understand how such a large company won’t provide the public with a dedicated Customer Care telephone number. I don’t think that Continental Airlines could say “We don’t care about customer service” any more clearly than that.

And if that’s the case, I’ll make sure that the 20+ flights I take each year are all with other airlines.

End of rant. Although I’d be happy to take bets on whether or not you think I’ll ever receive my reimbursement!


Anyone else have a Continental experience to share?

Photo Credit: Continental Airlines / JetBlue photo

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Comments 78

  1. Jennifer

    I have a horrible experience to share and Continental Airlines. I had a litter or boxer puppies, one was being shipped to Boston, MA from Little Rock, AR and the first flight he was booked on was supposed to fly out on the 3rd of this month. So we take him up there and drop him off after getting him settled in and everything. Luckily I did not go all the way back home to Pocahontas, AR instead just went 1.5 hours down the road to my dads house. They called me and said the flight had been delayed by 4 hours because of rain. So I needed to go get him because they have no kennel facility available for him there. So I go get him and say this to a customer service rep “he is paid in full, what do I need to do?” Her reply “nothing we will leave your account open so when you re-book his flight all you have to do is drop him off” the charges for shipping this puppy was $244.81. OK so we re-book only after checking the weather for Sunday the 5th of Feburary. Have to have him there at 10 am to fly out at 12 pm. So the guy at the ticket desk tries to recharge me. So I simply tell him that He is already paid in full and that his flight Friday had been delayed and I was told by the airport to come and get him asap. So I handed this guy behind the counter my paid reciept from using my band card, (this makes me wish I would have handed them cash the first time around) and also explained that they said they would leave my account open so I didn’t have to pay again. So he calls the pet safe-safe desk in Houston, TX and all that and we process him and I leave after seeing the plane has taken off and all is good. Well Thursday the 16 of February I go online to my checking account to check it something is fishy about my balance when I called to get it. Guess what the dumb customer services reps have charge me the fee to ship the pup not once but twice. Once on the 3rd and once on the 5th. Now I am getting the runaround. I am so mad I don’t know how to handle this every time I call I get this, “the person you need to speak with is in a meeting, or out of the office or gone for the day” This is awful my puppy buyer didn’t pay for the shipping twice, and I be darned If I am going to. Any suggestions?

    1. Earl

      Hey Jennifer – My suggestion would be to do a search for the email address of Continental’s CEO. Write that person an email (not too long, short and to the point) and then see if you get a response. My bet is that you will!

  2. Priyank

    Did you hear anything from them yet? I seriously doubt that they’d have any form of social media presence. Blogs? Facebook? Twitter? What’s all that…

    1. Earl

      Hey Priyank – I ended up sending an email to the CEO of Continental and sure enough, the very next morning I received a phone call from his assistant telling me that the money would be reimbursed. I then received a check about ten days later. It was shocking that they took no interest in social media and didn’t respond to anything up until I went ahead and sent that email.

  3. Mollie

    oh yeah, wanted to add a plug for Frontier, my favorite airline for US and Mexico travel. Just love it. Good price, good choices of flights and times, and nice people.

  4. Mollie

    Hi, so I’ve read through most of these comments, and I have my own horrible Contential story to add — last year from Denver to Delhi, the flight attendants were just the worst I have ever experienced over the last 30 years of travel. I don’t think I saw one smile the entire flight there or back, not one! And just absurb behavior, like passing out breakfast, I heard this line over and over, “veg or no veg?”, “no veg please”, “sorry no veg is out, here is veg”. It was hilarious to hear all these passengers be offered veg or no veg, and then chose the no veg, and then be told there really wasn’t a choice afterall. When breakfast came to me I wisely just replied, “veg”. And like in the post above, the movies didn’t work!

    But here’s my problem — I’m currently stuck on the United/Contential reward miles program, which keeps me flying an airline I can’t stand, because I keep using my miles, and then I have some left over, and I need to fly more to add miles to the account to get a better or longer flight. AAAHHHH…its awfully hard to give up a bargain.

    1. Earl

      Hey Mollie – Thank you for sharing your Continental tale. It seems to be a common occurrence on board their long-haul flights. As for your reward miles program, I was actually in the exact same position. What I did was use my remaining miles for a hotel stay because you can pay partly with miles and partly with cash. And that was it. With the miles used up I closed my account and switched to a a different airline’s program!

  5. Doug

    Continental and United, two companies that so richly deserve one another.

    On a broader note, am I wrong in my theory that non-US airlines far superior to their US counterparts? I’ve never figured out exactly why that is though. More subsidies from home governments? Cultural differences? In most foreign countries a smaller % of population can afford to fly and thus “the rich” expect a higher quality service? I’m not sure…

    1. Earl

      Hey Doug – Your theory is absolutely correct, without a doubt. Although, I’ve never been able to figure out exactly why that is the case either. I think that in general, service standards in the US are quite low and so people, despite any initial complaining, will eventually fall in line and just accept a drop in service. In other countries, there is a certain standard that is expected and people simply won’t settle for anything less than that.

  6. Patti

    It amazes me that companies forget the basics so easily. I just finished my business degree and in ever class the emphasis was that customer service/relations was key. Did not matter if it was accounting, marketing or management.

    Sadly it really does help if you make a stink about things. I was flying to Dallas and my flight got delayed to the point of missing a connecting flight. The only reason why I got any assistance at all was because the attendant thought I was only 16 and it was the first time I was flying. Fortunately neither of this was true.

    If your travels take you to Houston TX, you would be at the headquarters of the Continental company. (It might be helpful to add that they have already lost over 10,000 in profit because of the run around they are giving you, which will surely increase the longer they wait. Passing your story amongst my family of travelers.) Best of luck!

    1. Earl

      Hey Patti – Thank you for the comment! I’ve already been in touch with their headquarters and managed to speak with someone in their PR department. Of course, no surprise, I have yet to hear back from anyone even though I was told that someone would call me soon. Continental really doesn’t understand how a simple phone call or email could make a huge difference. Instead, my frustration grows as I have to be the one to constantly chase them down.

      Like you said, it’s the basics, so there is no excuse for such service.

  7. Sabrina

    Wow! How annoying! That would make me choose a different airline in the future too. I’ve had such a different experience with Continental though. I joined their frequent flyer program when I moved to the US (right around 2004) and have used them many times since then to fly home to Germany or to visit friends and family all over Europe and Asia. And I like them. I’ve never had a bad experience with them and am even more loyal to them after some immigration trouble my boyfriend and I had: they changed our flight for free, provided us with a hotel for free, gave us meal vouchers, and even went back and forth for me checking why my boyfriend was stuck in immigration… Anyways, all this to say that sometimes employees don’t know what a huge difference their actions can make (e.g., turning you with the hotel reimbursement against them and making me a loyal customer because one employee went above and beyond)… Hope you get your money back! Have you tried submitting this post on Twitter and adding a little @continental? Who knows, maybe someone will read this and take notice…

    1. Earl

      Hey Sabrina – That’s good to hear that you’ve had such a positive experience with Continental. I have no doubt that they have some wonderful employees out there. I just wish they had a better structure in place to deal with such minor issues as a hotel reimbursement 🙂

      I have actually included both @continental and @united (these two have now merged) in several tweets and have yet to receive a reply, which is quite surprising as even an acknowledgement of my issue would have gone a long way. I’ve so far just been ignored instead.

      1. Sabrina

        That’s crazy! If they have a Twitter account (i.e., want to be in that social media game as a company), they should also use it and respond when they are mentioned somewhere… Oh well! I hope they refund your money soon. So annoying!

        I’m aware of the merger and actually am quite scared since I have heard not the nicest things about United. I guess we’ll see if it makes it better or worse or stays the same. Travelling with them in August, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

  8. Red Nomad OZ

    I think there’s a special hell for customer ‘service’ representatives who work in call centres and therefore have no clue there’s a real person (let alone customer!) at the other end of the phone.

    You could try another email linking to this post?? Good luck!!

    1. Earl

      @Red Nomad OZ: I actually spoke with someone in their PR department yesterday and provided them with the URL of this post. They told me that someone would be in touch, so I guess I’ll have to continue waiting and see 🙂

  9. Simon

    Agreed! , I think its abundantly clear Continental seems to have more important things to do than worry about customers. There are one of the few airlines I actually go out of my way to avoid as I have had many of the same issues you refer to.

    I am willing to bet Continental’s strategy is just to wait you out and hope you forget about the reimbursement.

    I liked that you mentioned Jet Blue, as they are def one of my favs, along with Turkish Air and Thai Air where you actually feel like a cherished customer.

    1. Earl

      Hey Simon – Turkish and Thai Air are two great airlines. I was very pleasantly surprised with Turkish when I flew to Istanbul last year. You may be right that Continental is hoping I won’t pursue the claim in the end but when it comes to poor customer service, I always stick with it. I don’t believe that Continental should benefit in any way from their indifferent attitude towards me.

      1. Simon

        Earl,

        I think Turkish Air is pretty underrated. I also flew to Istanbul from Chicago with Turkish Air and was really impressed. Everyone though it was a long flight they might it quite enjoyable.

        Getting the runaround is quite frustrating. I am not usually one to complain, but I think Continental actually goes out of their way to upset people. Hopefully your post finds it’s way to someone who can make a difference.

        Cheers and enjoy Mexico!

    1. Earl

      Hey Michael – I don’t think I’ve ever flown Spirit Airlines and I’ve really only flown American a few times over the years. I don’t remember anything terribly negative about American but it definitely has been a while since I last flew with them.

  10. Alouise

    I flew with Continental for the first time a few weeks ago. I didn’t have any problems, but I’ve discover I’ve been spoiled flying Westjet. Their employees are always friendly. I used to work at the Edmonton airport and the workers at the Westjet counter were always smiling and laughing, even at 4am. They offer free snacks on the flight, and free satellite tv. They also don’t oversell their flights. Continental wasn’t bad, but Westjet shows how you go from simply “not bad” to “fantastic.” I always try to fly with Westjet when I can.

    1. Earl

      Hey Alouise – Sounds like Westjet and JetBlue operate under similar business models, which almost every other North American airline does not use! And it really doesn’t seem to take much to create that atmosphere that leaves passengers feeling their experience was fantastic. I’ll definitely be using Westjet as well for any future trips to Canada 🙂

  11. kandyce

    all i can say is, good luck. continental airlines once lost my luggage on a direct delhi- jersey flight. they never found it (and it took them 2 months to determine that no, they had no idea where it was.) they sent me a reimbursement check and a voucher, and when i used the voucher (daring to fly continental again), the flight was delayed ON CHRISTMAS EVE because the pilot NEVER SHOWED UP.

    not that i’m still mad. (i am.) but honestly, when your ‘i’m sorry’ gift to your passengers is a check for far less than it should be and a voucher used on a flight where the pilot didn’t show up? not exactly a great apology.

    i now only fly carryon (i’ve gotten really creative), and refuse to fly continental.

    1. Earl

      Hey Kandyce – Lovely experiences you’ve had with Continental 🙂 I think that might be the first I’ve ever heard of a pilot not showing up. Doesn’t get much worse I guess, especially considering it was Christmas. I’m still optimistic that I’ll get my reimbursement at some point but am starting to think that it might take several years!

  12. Sebastian

    I’ve never flown with Continantal but I am fighting with Iberia over 1 month now because of a reimbursement of $ 30 because they didn’t pay the airport fee in Managua. They keep ignoring calls and emails… it’s terrible!

    1. Earl

      Hey Sebastian – All because of $30 bucks! Don’t give up…don’t let the airline get away with such terrible customer service.

  13. Ashley

    Wow, two thumbs way down for Continental. Though it’s great to hear how awesome JetBlue is! Haven’t flown them before – usually try to stick with Delta as I’ve always had good luck with them – but I’m always up for an airline that treats you like a person.

    On a side note, I grew up minutes from that hotel in South City! It was quite popular for hotel parties when I was in high school…haha…and I worked for the candy shop next door. If you’re ever in need for good restaurants next to SFO, I know them all 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Ashley – I wish I knew that before as I was looking for some good food near the airport that night but couldn’t find anything! That’s too funny that you grew up near that hotel 🙂

      I’ve always had decent luck with Delta as well but I still go with JetBlue whenever I can. For the routes I tend to fly, JetBlue is always much cheaper as well!

  14. Jennifer Barry

    Hi Earl, I’ve never taken JetBlue but maybe I should start. I’ve had problems with Continental too. I was scheduled to the day they had a fatal accident, so I got moved to USAir. That’s the understandable part. The problem was their system “automatically” cancels the return flight unless the clerk overrides this. I wasn’t informed of any problem, just told I couldn’t check in online. When I get to the airport for the return flight, I find no reservations and absolutely no apology. The airline had already sold my seat and wouldn’t give it back. The clerk had to be coached through the whole rebooking process as she didn’t feel like looking for a reasonable alternative. Even worse, my relatives gave me the stomach flu, so I spent most of my 5 hour layover in Cleveland in the airport bathroom.

    1. Earl

      Hey Jennifer – It’s as if most airlines are either too big or too incompetent to think one step ahead. They constantly need to play catch up, which naturally results in having a great deal of upset customers. I would have thought that the airlines would notice this and make necessary changes to avoid such poor customer service but it doesn’t seem to be too high on their list of priorities.

      You should definitely look into JetBlue for future flights. Their customer service is as good as it gets (at least in my opinion) and their flights always offer a comfortable experience.

  15. Gray

    I feel your pain, Earl. I’ve had nothing but airline troubles my last 2 trips. Unfortunately, I’ve come to the conclusion that they all suck at customer service. I’ve had canceled or majorly delayed flights on Continental, United and yes, even Jetblue…which was actually the worst of the bunch because they provided no infrastructure to easily rescheduled the flight they cancelled on me. I learned my lesson. Now I book travel insurance no matter where I’m flying. I just don’t trust any airline any more.

    1. Earl

      Hey Gray – That does seem like an unfortunate string of bad flying luck. Sorry to hear about all that and I can now see how flight insurance makes perfect sense.
      And actually, when Continental rescheduled my flight from Singapore to Mexico, it was only because I called them 4 times after receiving an email stating that the first leg of my original flight was delayed and I would miss my connection. They didn’t offer any solution or get in touch with me at all about re-booking (it was a good thing I called them) and seemed perfectly content to leave me stranded in Japan. Hooray airlines.

  16. Stephen

    Had a similar experience in October with Continental. I took a flight on Air China and submitted the flight info for partner credit in the middle of october, and never got a solid answer until the end of March. At which point they told me they wouldn’t honor it because of the ticket code. To their credit, they did add 1000 “Goodwill Miles” to my account after I complained about how long it took.

    1. Earl

      Hey Stephen – Those 1000 miles are more than I would have expected from them! And again, taking 5 months to reply to such a simple issue is unacceptable to me, no matter how big a company is. Let’s see how many more months I’ll need to wait.

      1. Stephen

        Yea, it was definitely an unexpected and pleasant surprise. Good luck with your problem, hopefully this will get enough comments that it makes it way to them and they hop on it before they get any more bad publicity?

  17. Don

    I have avoided going with Continental for many years. I experienced similar problems that you and others have mentioned. The final straw for me was the fact that Continental didn’t have an 800 number to call about using my frequent flyer miles. It is very frustrating to call several times and be put on hold for 20 minutes only to be cut off and have to start the whole procedure all over again.

    1. Earl

      Hey Don – It is frustrating and that really bothered me when the Customer Care agent told me there was no dedicated Customer Service line either. How could any company think it’s a good idea to put people on hold only to be put on hold again? There is no common sense in that at all.

      When I finally spoke with the agent and told her that I found it absurd that they didn’t have a direct number to give me, she just laughed and said that’s how it was now. Great.

  18. ENJ503

    Last year I flew to Vietnam to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity in Kieng Giang Province. I arrived at PDX for my 10 a.m. flight on Horizon Airlines to fly to Seattle to connect with my Korean Airlines flight to Saigon. We boarded then sat on the plane for about 45 minutes before being told that the airplane was experiencing problems. We piled off and headed back into the terminal to be re-booked. It appears that those with the loudest and most insistent and rudest voices get helped first. Since that wasn’t me, I wasn’t assisted until after noon which meant I missed any connecting flight out of Seattle to Seoul. They ended up re-booking my flight through a 6 p.m. flight to L.A. then a 17-hour, non-stop flight on Thai Airways to Bangkok, then a 2-hour flight from Bangkok to on Vietnam Airlines to Saigon. Thankfully, I was flying to Vietnam early to hook up with Habitat for Humanity so was not delayed there. Alaska Airlines offered no compensation other than 500 miles and a $7.00 meal ticket. I’ve flown Thai Airways, Asiana and Korean overseas and they far surpass any American airline in customer service and meals served aboard the flight. This year I’m flying to Turkey on Turkish Airlines and am wondering how they will be … still better than American? We could learn a lot in customer standards from others around the world.

    1. Earl

      @ENJ503: That does not sound like a pleasant flying experience at all. On a different note, I actually flew to Istanbul with Turkish Airlines (from NYC) last year and I had a great experience. It was a very comfortable flight and the service on board was definitely better than average.

  19. amy

    that’s weird, i stayed at a hotel in nola that was booked through hotels.com, and they gave me a check-out receipt, showing the room charge, the pre-payment via cc at hotels.com, and the final balance as $0 (paid in full). is it possible that best western is the problem? not that i disagree with the overarching sentiment, that continental/united aren’t at all concerned with customer service.

    1. Earl

      Hey Amy – That is weird. I actually contacted Hotels.com and they informed me that many hotels will not give a payment receipt upon checkout if it’s booked through their website. So perhaps there are many hotels chains that practice this and while that is not Continental’s fault, if they are going to partner with Hotels.com, they need to fully understand their rules and be prepared for what I’d imagine is a common situation.

  20. Elizabeth

    Well…to make things worse, Continental is now merged with United and I don’t like to fly United because their long haul flights often involve old planes, they don’t have personal entertainment and they don’t leave snacks out for people who are still hungry after eating the cheap noodles that they give out instead as meals.

    I avoid United now which means I will also be avoiding Continental.

    1. Earl

      Hey Elizabeth – I understand what you’re saying. Already it seems as if the merger is causing endless problems as sometimes they seem to act as one airline and other times they operate completely separate. Either way, I won’t be flying with this airline at any point in the foreseeable future either.

  21. Jasmine

    I generally find that airlines based out of the US are some of the worst in the WORLD. For real. One of the problems is that everything is so bureaucratic and so nothing actually ends up getting done. I’ll have to look into Jet Blue next time I fly out of the US.

    BOO CONTINENTAL! YOU SUCK! Lol I hope everyone who reads this retweets it @continental or (@united) ? like I’ll be doing 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Jasmine – I agree with that 100%. US airlines are the worst overall. I very rarely fly with any US airline when flying overseas. And you should definitely check out JetBlue as they have begun flying to destinations in Central and (northern) South America as well.

      And thank you for adding the @united note as I did notice that Continental’s twitter page tells visitors to follow them on @united instead. What a combination (and headache for passengers) that will be – United and Continental merged together!

  22. Kenna

    I give you credit for sticking with it because some wouldn’t and just think of the saving that would be to Continental Airlines. Do these large companies think you have nothing better to do with our time?
    I don’t think they understand the cost is greater trying to find new customers than it is to keep a happy customer!

    1. Earl

      Hey Kenna – Not only is the cost greater to find new customers but the cost of communicating back and forth and dragging this on for months is certainly greater than just providing me the $113 that they rightly owe me. I simply can’t understand how Continental doesn’t see this.

    1. Earl

      Hey Ken – Damn. Your train experience sounded terrible. And that really annoys me as well when companies communicate without providing direct contact information. Again, it’s the best possible way for a company to tell its customers that they don’t care at all about them. Unfortunately, the method works and most people do give up eventually but there’s no way I’m giving up with this issue, even if I have to fly to Texas and show up at their head office!

  23. Pete Heck

    Yikes, that’s brutal. They should never had made you pay for a hotel in the first place. Real customer service would provide you with a voucher like JetBlue did above. Ugh. If you are starting a pool on when you will get your refund, I say 6 months (optimistic I am 😉

    Our flight this week is with Continental, I’m crossing fingers all goes smooth….

    1. Earl

      Hey Pete – A voucher would have been excellent, or perhaps the airline could have booked the hotel. At the time I didn’t think anything of booking it myself as the agent on the line made it seem as if there was no chance at all that there would be a problem with the reimbursement but they certainly could have done more.

      6 months you say…very optimistic. That only gives me 3 more months to argue back and forth!

      And enjoy your flight 🙂

  24. Idelish

    100% with you on how bad Continental is!

    We just arrived in Newark via Continental from our two week trip in India and we will avoid this airline in the future! Their entertainment/movie system malfunctioned (14 hour flight) and all we got was a rude “do not touch the screen while we are rebooting!” and then after 4 or 5 reboots, all we got was a “only music and games are available. We are aware that videos do not work. Please just use the music and games.” no apologies, no “sorry for the inconvenience etc”.

    When we pressed the button for the attendant, they totally ignored us!!! They walked by us multiple times but looked the other way!!! In the end, we went and got our own drinks from the back of the plane.

    Never. Again.

    1. Earl

      @Idelish: Sorry to hear about your flight issues but I’m not at all surprised. Service among airlines based out of the US is consistently mediocre on long-haul, international flights in comparison to airlines based in other countries. I’ve had similar issues to what you described with United and now that United and Continental have merged, there’s only a couple of airlines left in the US that I’ll fly with!

  25. Nomadic Matt

    They do it so you eventually give up and say it’s not worth the time. But then social media makes blogs like this possible and videos like United Breaks Guitars.

    Consider this tweeted and fb!

    1. Earl

      @Nomadic Matt: Much appreciated! I really do hope that someone at Continental comes across this post. And even though I don’t really care too much about the $113 bucks, I never give up in these situations for the exact reason that you mentioned. That’s what they are hoping for but that’s not going to be the case.

  26. Tijmen

    I haven’t flown with Continental Airlines so far, but sounds like their customer service could use some serious improvements. It should never ever take 9 emails and 5 phone calls to solve a problem with a company.

    1. Earl

      Hey Tijmen – 9 phone calls and 5 emails is an absurd amount of communication for such a small issue. You would think that Continental would notice this as well and want to solve the problem more quickly. But it seems they either haven’t noticed or just don’t care.

  27. cashflowmantra

    Thanks for the heads up about Continental. Companies don’t realize that customer service can go a long way toward keeping customers. I had a bad experience with Papa John’s and boycotted them for over a year. They lost the sale of at least 300 pizzas during that time. I also had a bad experience with Ford in 1989. I only recently after 20 years decided I would get a Mazda Miata. I was honestly hesitant since I knew that Ford was a minority shareholder. Otherwise, I have managed to avoid them like the plague and still harbor ill feelings toward the company. I do respect them from a business perspective for not taking a government bailout, so my tone has softened somewhat but I am still mad.

    1. Earl

      @cashflowmantra: Bad customer service can definitely stick with us for a long time and affect our purchasing decisions. As a result, it truly baffles me when some companies show such a disregard for their customers and when they do, I also take my business elsewhere. I have my own personal list of companies that I refuse to spend my money with.

  28. Casey OD

    Another great thing JetBlue has done in this situation is treat all the passengers the same. Everybody gets a voucher, not just the people who ask about it or have a temper tantrum. Many airlines will give you a whole lot more if you make a big stink, which is just unpleasant for everyone. During a business trip, my luggage went missing on an Air France flight once but I arrived on a Saturday and didn’t have any meetings and hence need for my luggage till Monday, so I was OK with them getting my suitcase to me on Sunday. Then I recounted it to a colleague who said, that happened to me once with Air France and I threw such a fit that they wound up buying me a suit. So, since I was reasonable and nice, I got nothing except wandering around in my travel clothes for an extra day, and for being irrational and kind of an a-hole, my colleague got a suit. Grr!

    1. Earl

      Hey Casey – That’s an interesting thought and it really does seem to be true. I’m normally a pretty quiet guy and even during the times I’ve been on the phone with Continental, my friends have urged me to be more forceful and angry. It’s just not me but who knows, if this situation drags on any longer, I might have to step it up a notch or two.

      Also, treating people the same is something JetBlue always does, as is evident by their lack of first class seating. And if JetBlue can offer such excellent customer service, any other airline could do the same, which makes me believe that other airlines just aren’t interested or are too disorganized to try.

  29. Megan

    You’ve got me sold on JetBlue!

    I was in a similar situation with an airline here in Australia, Tiger Airways (based out of Singapore, but also running domestic flights).

    I waited almost a year for the hotel reimbursement, and it only happened because a friend I travelled with found the email address of the GM. It’s absolutely appalling, and they’re not doing so well here anymore. Their business model seems to be “let’s have super super super cheap fares and screw all our customers so that every single person in Australia will travel with us – but only once!” When it comes down to it, I’d rather pay more for the fare. Domestically, I only travel with Virgin Blue – they’ve never let me down.

    1. Earl

      Hey Megan – Oh yes, I’m familiar with Tiger Airways after my recent visit to Australia. And that’s exactly what I did – I flew them once and then switched over to Virgin Blue despite having to pay more for my flights. Tiger has a business model that seems to work in the beginning but then quickly fizzles once people reach their tolerance limit for poor service, which, like you mentioned, often doesn’t take very long at all.

      I need to start searching for some email addresses for executives of Continental!

  30. Linda

    That JetBlue service is outstanding and should be the norm. I’ll used Continental UK to US before, but will make a note not to do so again. With delays becoming more and more frequent I simply couldn’t afford to lose money like that! Hope they see this post!!! AND that they understand the power of blogging to their reputation!

    I can only say Virgin have always been great for me, and Aer Lingus (although good prices hence using them) absolutely lousy customer service on a par with Continental.

    1. Earl

      Hey Linda – I too am hoping that Continental will see this although I’m not very confident that they’ll respond. After all, their entire corporate culture seems to breed poor service! But, as the word spreads, hopefully they will realize that it would have been very easy for them to have avoided all of this negative publicity.

      We shall see 🙂

  31. John Bardos - JetSetCitizen

    Awesome Earl.

    I hate lousy service. Bad companies need to be outed. I have never flown Continental but I have had similarly terrible experiences on United.

    The best marketing is great service. Business is not that complicated.

    1. Earl

      Hey John – Now that United and Continental have merged, that’s just one giant mess of an airline to avoid. I also hate consistently lousy service for the same reason. It’s not complicated at all to show that you care about your customers. It’s actually easier to do that than to waste time and money trying to avoid dealing with their issues. I am honestly at a loss as to how Continental doesn’t realize this as well.

  32. James Clark

    What a stark contrast. I bet if you worked out the costs, Continental have spent more on administrative expenses in avoiding paying your reimbursement than it would have cost to reimburse you.

    1. Earl

      Hey James – Absolutely. If the process is really as complicated as they made it sound, they must lose a significant amount of money when dealing with every single customer issue. They could have avoided all of these extra costs in one second by issuing the refund they owe me from the start. It just seems so ridiculous.

  33. Raymond

    I’ve flown with Continental a few times for work and I have to say, I am not a fan. What is it with these stodgy old-school airlines? It’s as if they have a sense of entitlement. Airlines like Jetblue and Westjet here in Canada offer far superior customer service.

    1. Earl

      Hey Raymond – I’ve been hearing good things about Westjet as well but have yet to fly with them. You’re right, it is the old-school airlines that seem to be falling far behind. They must feel as if they have their loyal base and that they don’t need anything more than that. One day they’ll wake up and realize that the JetBlue’s and Westjet’s have taken most of their business and they’ll only have their lack of focus on customer service to blame.

    1. Earl

      Hey Heather – Right? All for $113. Is it really worth losing a customer over this amount (and perhaps other customers who read this post)?

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