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.