Dear Continental:

Speaking of airlines, it’s amazing how much they have changed.  I remember flying Pan-Am as a child and getting treated like royalty.  It’s not like this anymore.  Here is the letter I sent to the CEO of Continental after our trip:

Dear Jeffery A. Smisek:

There was a short “movie” at the beginning of the flight today during which you announced that Continental and United are doing a good job merging.  You also note that one of your main priorities is customer service.  I, however, am not sure that your staff shares your priorities or your view of the merger.  From the outset of our flights for this vacation, we’ve had nothing but problems and cranky staff from those of both United and Continental. 

I work in the customer service industry and so I know how difficult it is to maintain professionalism and friendliness in the face of mergers, pay-cuts, and the public in general.  However, I strive to make sure that my customers know they are my priority.  However instead of feeling like we were someone’s priority for this vacation, we were made to feel like we were cattle- a necessary evil with no deserving respect.

In San Francisco, we waited in line for 35 minutes for a kiosk labeled, “Continental”.  Since our tickets were clearly marked “Continental” we had no reason to believe we should be standing anywhere else.  When the kiosk didn’t work, we flagged down a woman in a Continental uniform who was clearly irritated by us and told us we had to see the United representative.  She gestured to “That Guy over There.”  He was, we were told, the only person who could help us.  So my family of four went and stood in another line for 25 minutes for “That Guy over There.” 

“That Guy over There” proceeded to check our baggage only part way through our trip (it stayed in Cleveland while we continued on to Manchester).  He also failed to give us all the boarding passes for the day.  At LAX, we had to run and scramble to get our passes from a gate attendant who treated us like we were stupid.  We asked where our next gate was and he told us to look at the board.  But our flight, a Continental flight, was not listed on the board.  Finally we asked someone else and they told us (with irritation) that we needed to look at the United board.  We now had very little time to make it to our gate for our next flight.

In Manchester, we found that our luggage was lost and would be delivered around 2pm the next day to our hotel.  Our luggage was not delivered until midnight and that was only after making several dozen calls.

On our trip home, the flights were all “over-sold” and the attendants were rude and overworked, rolling their eyes at us constantly.  At every airport we’ve visited this trip (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Manchester) all your staff have been frazzled and rude. I realize that I’m not a frequent leisure traveler, but I’ve not experienced this level of poor customer service with other airlines when I travel for business.  I usually go the cheapest route, regardless of airline.  This was my first United/Continental experience and, in the future, I will keep this experience in mind and choose accordingly, despite costs.  It was extremely disappointing and I hope that your merger straightens out soon so that you can work on the customer service aspect of your flights.

Deborah E. Mascot


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