Continental Makes My No Fly List

November 17th 7:10 AM


I’m typing this while aboard Continental flight 223 in route to Houston for the fabulous Multifamily Pro Brainstorming Conference there this week.  Maybe I’m in a customer service state of mind this morning, or it could be because due to needing to be at the airport at 4 AM, I didn’t really sleep last night and I’m potentially cranky, but whatever the reason, the less than stellar service this morning has made it pretty clear to me that Continental will not be receiving my business again.  Then again, from all the signals I’ve received this morning, it doesn’t much seem like they care if they lose a customer or not.


The arrival requirement was 4am for a 6:10 AM flight.  This wouldn’t bother me as much if the ticket counters were actually OPEN at 4 am.  Instead, what you get is 40 people standing in line with luggage and cranky kids in tow, wondering why they had to be there at 4 am to stand in line to do nothing.  Continental checks you in via kiosk now, but they do not open the kiosks until 4:20AM.  At 4AM they allow you to approach the kiosks, each party standing in front of their magical box. There you stand until 4:20 when they activate and allow you the privilege of checking in.


In order to check in, you have to either have your frequent flyer number, your confirmation code, or some other really random number that most people wouldn’t have with them.  This is dumb.  Alaska Airlines has a much better method.  It’s called looking up the flight by landing destination and your own last name.  I will not remember a 7 digit confirmation code.  I will, however, be hard pressed to forget where I’m going and what my last name is, no matter how much stress I’m under or how many airport bar cosmos I’ve downed.  When you have to print out the ticket receipt, it kind of defeats the paperless ticket idea.


At this point in time, if you are confused and ask them for help just as the man next to me did, you get the incredibly pleasant response of someone who thinks they’re smarter than you rolling their eyes at you and sighing.  The long suffering sigh was followed with, “Just read the screen sir.  The directions are clear.” Add another long suffering sigh on for good measure.  I, in the middle of checking in my own bags, stopped what I was doing and helped the nice older gentleman next to me navigate his way through their “very user friendly” system.  The clerk behind the counter became more agitated and actually, I’m not making this up, started DRUMMING HER FINGERS on the counter.  At this point, I looked at her, and just couldn’t help myself.  I only said one word, but I think it’s all I needed to say.  “Seriously?”


They charged me $20 to check my first bag.  Now, I’m not a fan of people charging me the second bag check fee, but a charge for the first bag?  What is the point of flying your airline unless I anticipate my trip to be a day and a half or less?  I’m sorry, but not everyone can pack in a roller bag that fits in the overhead. 


But when it comes down to it, here is the monumental cherry on the sundae of reasons I’ll avoid this airline in the future: No one, and I mean not one person that I came in to contact with the entire preflight and flight experience, EVER SMILED.  The closest I ever got was when I volunteered to have my carryon bag checked so that someone else could use my overhead space, and even then it was more a look of amazement than a smile.  Wow, someone was kind and courteous to the people around them?  Talk about blowing people’s minds.  I even tried smiling directly at each fight attendant as they passed me, and they barely made eye contact, let alone a smile.  How can you work in a service industry and not know the first rule of customer service?  You’d be surprised what a simple smile can salvage.  It might have saved them a customer.  Instead, I think I’ll give the fine folks at Southwest and Alaska my business from now on.  At least they act like they want it.

The choice between a hammer and a feather - Originally printed at Appfolio's

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