Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thumbs down for Continental

This weekend Shanny visited Notre Dame (the university) to check out their graduate program in chemistry.

It was a good visit. When it was over, a grad student host picked her up at her hotel to take her to the South Bend airport. This was Saturday morning, yesterday, to be precise. They got a late start because the other "prospective" had been up very late partying very hard the night before, and he overslept. So through no fault of her own, Shanny got a late start.

When she checked in at the airport, the check-in people said, "Oh, so you're going to Cleveland?"

"No," she said. "I am going to Syracuse, through Cleveland."

"That's odd," they said. They looked at her ticket for awhile, and at the computer monitor. "Oh," they said, "it leaves at 3:21. That's why it isn't showing up."

Since she was late, Shanny hurried on through security and over to her gate, all the while worrying that something was not right. She was sure that she was supposed to arrive in Syracuse at 1:57. So how could her flight leave Cleveland at 3:21? There were a couple of minutes before boarding, so she pulled out her laptop and found the site where she could check her ticket. The website informed her that her original flight out of Cleveland had been canceled and that she had been re-assigned to a flight at 3:21 p.m. on Wednesday. Yes, folks, on Wednesday, four days later.

Shanny called her father in a panic, wondering whether she should get on the plane to Cleveland. He told her to go ahead and get on it, that there would be more options out of Cleveland than there were out of South Bend.

So Shanny boarded the plane and her father called Continental where a rude "customer service agent" (and I use that term very loosely) told him that Shanny never should have gotten on the first plane, because once she began to use a ticket her options became severely limited. After being rude, unhelpful and downright nasty, as well as untruthful (agent: "It was canceled due to weather." Shawn: "I have a map of the US doppler radar up on my computer right now, and there is no weather in Cleveland or Syracuse at this time.")... finally she said that she would book Shannon on a flight to Washington Dulles on Sunday morning where she could then catch a flight back to Buffalo, NY and we could go pick her up there.

Now, if Shannon were actually old enough to rent a car, the obvious thing would have been for her to rent one (at Continental's expense) and drive home from Cleveland. But she is not yet old enough to rent a car. She didn't even have any way to get to a hotel to spend the night, so she would have had to spend the entire day and night in the Cleveland airport and then fly all the way to Dulles and then all the way back to Buffalo, and we would have had to drive three hours out to get her and three hours home.

So we did the only logical thing. We got in our car and drove to Cleveland to get her. It took us five hours to get there, and seven hours to get home. Because in the end there was weather, but it did not start until four hours after Shannon's originally scheduled flight would have been finished and landed and she safely home. It did not even start before Shannon would have been safely home, had she been old enough to rent a car and drive herself. No, the bad weather started right as we were picking her up at 5:20 p.m. at the Cleveland airport, and it followed us all the way home, where we arrived, exhausted, at a quarter past midnight.

Continental did nothing for us, not one thing to try to make up for their horrendous business practices. The professor at Notre Dame told Shannon to send him receipts from our drive home, and he would see that the university reimbursed us. Continental did not so much as say they were sorry. The "customer service agent" told Shawn, "It is your daughter's responsibility to educate herself on our policies before she flies our airline."

Needless to say, this has left an exceedingly bad taste in our mouth where Continental is concerned.


Hope T. said...

Flying is so nerve-wracking. It is a good thing I never do it but my family members occasionally do. My mother-in-law just flew into the South during all those tornado warnings. They must have changed the flight time a half dozen times or more, trying to dodge the storms. I could not have braved it. I hope you have recovered your sleep and your sanity!

I just have to tell you that I recently finished reading "The Blue Castle". I loved it! Thanks so much for recommending it. The characters were great and even the descriptive scenery passages fit in perfectly with the tone of the book. Now I am ready to read more LM Montgomery. Perhaps "Pat of the Silver Bush" or "The Tangled Web" will be my next one.

I have been wondering about your bathroom renovation. Was it a success? Have you recovered from the mess and disruption yet? I hope so and that all else is well. :)

Ruth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ruth said...

Our bathrooms came out nicely in the end. Thanks for asking. Maybe I will try to post some pictures.

I hate flying. It makes me ache all over when they start to pressurize the jet, even before take-off. I get so nauseated during descent, by the time the plane lands, I can barely even walk off it. I have always wanted to see the giant redwood trees in Northern CA, but I'm not sure if I ever will, because I don't know if I could ever get all the way out there. And any sort of travel makes me nervous; I don't even know why.

I'm glad you liked, "The Blue Castle"! I think I will read that one again some day. Currently, I am slowly getting through "Our Mutual Friend" which is a Dickens novel. We have the BBC movie of it, which is excellent, so I feel as though I'm cheating, but there are always some differences in the book. It's a very long book with small print, and my eyes can only take it for short periods of time, so I don't think I'll finish any time soon!

Just got back from a visit to the Dartmouth graduate program in chemistry with my oldest daughter. We did not fit in there. We left early and thus avoided driving through the bad weather in the northeast today (Sunday). I was so put off by the aura there... and I realized that I do not aspire in any way to be a part of the world of the rich, liberal and academic (nor do I hope it for my children). And those people, for all their snooty airs, have not the slightest idea of the proper way to serve tea.