Saturday, June 10, 2006

Ben Is BACK--With Continental Craziness

Let me begin by apologizing to our readers for the recent inactivity on benallaroundtheworld. A glitch prevented us from posting--that is, until Evan realized that we needed to republish the blog. Unfortunately I was out of town grading Advanced Placement English Literature exams and lacked access to the internet. But now that I'm back at my computer, I'm recommitted to the blog and implore our readers to stay tuned. Many thanks for your patience!

I flew Continental for the first time last week--from Dulles to Orlando (to grade the exams). My maiden voyage proved less than satisfying. My flight from Dulles to Cleveland was delayed due to a crew problem, so I was re-routed through Newark. Unfortunately, the agent neglected to inform me that my connection was tight, and that I would have to exit and then re-enter security at Newark in order to change terminals (From here on out, I will avoid Newark like the plague!). As I made my way through security, after hustling off the plane, out of security and onto the shuttle, I heard my name being called for final boarding. I ran like the wind and boarded the aircraft just as an agent was shutting the door. On board, I found no room for my backback in the overhead bin and consequently had to place it under my feet, restricting my legroom and making for a long flight to Orlando--one made all the more excruciating by our long wait for takeoff (17th in line!) and the crowdedness of the plane.

Always forgiving, I adopted, erroneously, it turns out, a positive attitude toward my return flight. Assured a bulkhead seat by the agent on the phone, a position I confirmed online before my departure, imagine my surprise when I boarded the aircraft from Orlando to Cleveland and found myself at a window seat neither in bulkhead nor in an exit row. Turns out I was relocated to accommodate what the agent speculated was a handicapped customer--but which I suspect was a more elite flier (none of the bulkhead occupants appeared disabled to me--no wheelchairs, canes, crutches or walkers). The flight was downhill from there. To my left sat two sisters who argued, fought, slapped, screamed and seat-danced (to their iPods) the entire way. Their parents, looking exhausted by what I suspect was a Disney vacation, seemed resigned to their daughters' misbehavior. Amidst the din and distraction, I got nothing done on the plane and exited an unhappy customer.

My flight from Cleveland to Dulles was better, and I must register my pleasant surprise at making it to my car less than thirty minutes after exiting the aircraft (which included fetching my luggage, paying for my parking and catching and then riding a parking shuttle to my car). BUT, speedy service at Dulles does not compensate for Continental's screw-ups. I filed a complaint with an agent yesterday as I stewed in Cleveland. I'll report the results in a future post.


Blogger Evan said...

I flew Continental for Thanksgiving 2003 (into Norfolk,VA, connecting through Newark). My experiences were pleasant, but I understand the issues at Newark,tight connections and all.

Keep us updated on the outcome of your complaints.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

No update yet. I wonder if Continental will drag its feet. Glad to hear you had a safe, if at times frustrating, trip to Philly.

5:17 AM  

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