Saturday, June 19, 2010

An Open Letter to Continental Airlines

Dear Continental Airlines,

I'd like to tell you a story about my dear friend Ashley. She's a great friend, political maven, Golden Girls fan, full sourcebook for Gone With The Wind, mobile French farce generation unit and all-around good person. She is a Cancer and enjoys long walks on the beach as long as the walk leads to shopping. We met at American University, where we learned that we were both born at Polyclinic Hospital in Harrisburg, PA and went on lots of fun adventures, including one notable evening when I chased a duck through the Capitol Reflecting Pool in a dress. We've made a lot of poor choices together, and for this reason, we like to hang out occasionally. Sometimes this means going to Inauguration "together" (by which I mean standing at literal opposite ends of the Mall while texting each other) and sometimes this means taking underage Norwegians out into international waters in the company of people who use the phrase "I cry like a chicken" (yes really).

I haven't seen Ashley in over a year. That sucks - a lot of my friends live far away and that's difficult, because I, Continental Airlines, am a hugger. She planned to visit from Thursday to Monday this week, and I was really excited because we could have more adventures! Plus, there are ducks at Assumption College and I still have my commuter parking pass, so I figured we could chase some of them. For old times' sake, you know? I got a text from her on Thursday saying she'd be slightly delayed, so I was like "cool, I can work a full day," and waited until 4:30 to leave work and head for Manchester to pick her up.

Well, it turns out that you guys overbooked her flight. It happens! I get it. I've worked for an airline, and my Dad runs an air taxi, so I know how much is involved with getting a plane off the ground. The problem is, you proceeded to not get Ash on the next three flights that night, keep her overnight in Houston, and then not get her on the next flight out in the morning. Finally, you got her to Chicago around noon...where her Delta connecting flight for Manchester was overbooked. HEY, SHIT HAPPENS, RIGHT?

Well after another thrilling day full of failure, I got this text from Ashley:
Apparently the way to make up for stranding your passengers is to put them up in a fucking roach motel where people are BBQing in the parking lot. Yes it is 12:36 and there is BBQ
Sometimes all the non-shady hotels are booked, am I right, Continental Airlines? So the next day at 5:15a, Ash headed back to the airport to begin another thrilling day of negotiations with the genius-caliber human beings you employ. I'll tell you, Connie - can I call you Connie? - it might help if you asked your employees to avoid telling passengers that they should calm down because "this happens all the time." It's never really a great idea, but honestly, once you hit 24 hours of delays, it should really never, ever, ever happen. The good thing is, you got her on her way to Atlanta! Hooray!

Oh wait except Atlanta is in the South, Connie.

She spent the day in Atlanta trying to get on a flight to "Somewhere in New England, doesn't matter where," and finally got on standby for a 6p flight to Boston. Well, she didn't get on that one, but she did managed to get on the "7p" one, which was delayed an hour. At 7:48p, I got the following text from her:
"Ok I'm sitting in my seat so I'm going to turn my phone off now and strap myself in and refuse to move. Noone is offering to's like I wonder why BECAUSE everyone has been trying to get to their destination for hours!!! Hopefully next time you hear from me I am in Boston!!!!!"
I was feeling pretty good about things, Continental Airlines. I called Knight's Limo and arranged a pickup so all Ash would have to do was walk off the plane and into their open arms. Because they are competent businesspeople, they were like "no problem" and put her on the list.

At 12:20a I got a text from Ashley's phone. The nice Delta desk person at ATLANTA was trying to figure out how to get the phone back to its owner, and they mentioned again that they were sorry about Ash's flight troubles, which by the way, Connie, you kind of didn't do very much of. They asked if I knew what flight she was on, and I told them the number I thought she was on. The response was "[Okay] but I am going to look up her name and try to track her down, because my colleague says he does not think she got on flight 2500 and got bumped to AirTran. It is because Continental Air double booked 15 flights out of Houston on Thursday and Friday and it's causing massive problems." I informed her that I would be very surprised if they had managed to pry her off the flight, but they said they would try to find out more.

At this point it's 1a and I'm calling Boston and trying to call you, Connie, but of course your customer service line is not taking calls thanks to high call volume (side note: in what world is that a thing? I would love to opt out of taking calls from irate customers resulting from my epic screw ups). I emailed my phone and address to Ashley, hoping she'd be able to log on from whatever dimension she'd been shipped to, and sure enough she sent me an email at 2:42a saying she was in Charlotte, NC. CHARLOTTE, Continental - yet another fucking city that is NOWHERE NEAR NEW ENGLAND. I haven't heard from her since, so I'm not sure where you have her stashed, whether she even wants to bother coming out here or what.

So I guess what I'm saying is this, Continental Airlines...go fuck yourself. Fuck your employees' shitty attitudes, fuck your incompetent booking policies, fuck your lack of business savvy, fuck your shitty customer service. I have a really high tolerance for the Shit Happens Factor in the airline industry because it does have some uncontrollable factors, but this is inexcusable. It's now four o'clock on Sunday [ETA: posting time adjusted in the interest of getting this public quickly; thanks Blogger], a full THREE DAYS after I was supposed to be picking Ashley up in Manchester, and had she made it here, she'd be leaving tomorrow. Instead, I have no idea where she is and it seems unlikely that she'll make it here at all. Totally unacceptable. There's a reason your industry is in the shitter, and this is it.



Oh PS - you would think that after a television personality called you out for the same thing you might try to fail less. I'm just saying is all.


  1. If that had happened to me I would be in jail because I have no doubt I would have killed someone by now.

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