Continental Airlines — What a pathetic way to run a business!
Sent: 14 Jun 07 10:35:31
Subject: Flight Experience
Message: RE: CO Flight 1144 on 6/8/07
Originally scheduled to depart at 5:25 pm, this flight didn't take off until 5+ hours later. Delayed from the start because of late arrival from Washington, passengers began boarding at 6:50 pm (appx.) and then sat on the runway for nearly four hours. I understand there are always delays with air travel, and I know these things are often difficult to control or predict (weather, computer glitches with another airport, etc.), but my major complaint was with the way this delay was handled. The communication system between the pilot and the passengers was absolutely non-existent. Every announcement from the pilot was unintelligible, and even the attendants were having trouble getting accurate information. No one seemed to know anything, which only exacerbated the situation. One woman behind me was completely out of control, and while I won't defend her actions (frankly, I just wanted her to shut up), I can't say I blame her. We were all being kept completely in the dark about the situation.
Finally, after several hours of waiting, the plane returned to the terminal and some passengers got off. No announcement was made; no one was told if they would be able to get back on again; and no clarification was made about baggage for passengers who did decide to get off. It was just a desperate and strange situation. Only by asking one of the people who nearly got off the plane did I find out that you would not be allowed back on the plane if you got off.
I fly frequently with Continental (nearly one trip per month), and never has the communication system failed so miserably. I understand the reluctance to share bad news, but in this case it would have been much better than sharing no news and provoking passengers to behave in such an irrate and desperate manner. Continental can do better than this. It's not that difficult. This was a very poor decision on someone's part, particularly in light of the Air Passenger's Bill of Rights pending in Congress. The situation will only get worse if Continental doesn't figure out a better way to communicate with its customers and deal with bad news.
Our original flight was scheduled to land at 7:05pm; I don't think we landed until sometime after 12:30am, but it could have been even later. It was truly a horrible experience.
Flight Number: 1144
Flight Date: 6/8/2007
Approximate Departure Time: Evening
Destination: Chicago Midway
From: [protected]@coair.com [mailto:[protected]@coair.com]
Sent: Sat 6/16/2007 7:54 PM
Subject: RE: Flight Experience
I am sorry you were inconvenienced when our schedule was interrupted by the inclement weather conditions at (CTYAPT). Unless the airport is shut down completely some aircraft will be permitted to depart and arrive. Typically, runway usage becomes limited during inclement weather as outlined by air traffic control, and each carrier must make the difficult decision as to which flight will be delayed and canceled to accommodate the situation. This is not an arbitrary decision, and we use a state-of-the-art computer system to help determine how to minimize the fewest number of passengers. As soon as it is safe to do so, our onward transportation should be confirmed.
For more information on our commitment to you during irregular operations, please visit our website at http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/customerfirst.aspx
Customer Care Manager
TRACKING NUMBER: A00003059917-[protected]
From: Heidi Schwartz
Sent: Sat 6/16/2007 9:38 PM
Subject: RE: Flight Experience
If you read my letter carefully, you would have noted that I clearly understood that the delay was unavoidable. My complaint was with the method--or lack thereof--of communication between the pilot and the passengers. It was simply inexcusable. My husband and I will consider other options for our future travel plans if this is the best canned response you can provide.
Please read the letter and comprehend its meaning. While your team communicated so poorly, I feel my message is quite clear.
P.S.--It's so obvious this is just an automatic form letter and your didn't pay any attention to the content of my letter. You couldn't even bother filling in the information at the end of the first sentence:
"I am sorry you were inconvenienced when our schedule was interrupted by the inclement weather conditions at (CTYAPT)."
How ironic that this comes from the "customer care" department, when it's obvious you don't care at all. What a pathetic way to run a business.