Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Airline I Just Won't Fly: Continental

Yesterday my parent's were book plane tickets and asked me if I had an opinion on any of the airlines they were looking at, and the answer that instantly came to mind is that yes, yes, I do... I have a very strong opinion about one of the airlines (it happens to be one of the more affordable airlines in this particular case, unfortunately).

I am not a fan of Continental. In fact saying I'm not a fan may be an understatement. I really can't stand the airline.

Back when I first began writing this blog, when it was just a little tiny baby blog, all of a week old, Paul and I took a trip back to Massachusetts so that Sadie could meet all her Massachusetts aunts and uncles and cousins and could visit Gramma and Grampa. I was nervous about flying with a twelve month old who was just on the verge of beginning to walk, but the flight over was pleasant.

And then came the flight back. I originally described it here. You see, we had booked three tickets since Sadie was such a giant baby, and had brought our car-seat along. Now, while Mae is pretty laid back, Sadie was the type of baby that would g0-go-go, pretty much from birth, and during the ten hours of travel she really needed two parents to wrangle her. We asked for seats together and when we received the tickets I glanced at them, but didn't think to look at the lower tickets in the stack for our connecting flight. I mean, you just kind of assume that, having arrived three hours early to get seats together, and having one of the members of our party being twelve months old and still nursing almost hourly, that... well... we would get seats together.

So I just about had a stroke when, midway through our first flight, I realized while handing Paul his ticket for the second half of the trip, that our seats were all the way across the plane from each other. Paul and Sadie were on one side, and I was way up in towards front (of coach) on the other. The flight was from Dallas to Sacramento.

I wasn't too worried at first. I was sure Continental would help us fix the problem. Our layover was hours long. We got to Dallas and I called Continental. After talking to eight people they told me there was nothing they could do, that it was my problem (despite the fact that we'd reserved seats together) not theirs and that I could approach other customers myself and ask them to make the switch.

I tried asking the people at the front desk. I explained that I was nursing. I explained that she was an energetic thirty pound twelve month old and that that was the very reason we had reserved three seats together and arrived so early to ensure that we got them. The same answer was repeated. "That's not our problem. And asking another passenger to switch would inconvenience them."

Finally we boarded and I stood there next to the seat for ten minutes until I noticed a man looking in my direction, talking to a flight attendant (I'd been standing to show I wasn't just taking his seat, waiting to talk to him) about how I was in his space, and when they finally approached I convinced him to make a trade (he wasn't thrilled about sitting next to a twelve month old either, apparently).

But I will never fly Continental again. When I tried to talk to their representatives, in tears by the end of the conversations, they were rude and dismissive and repeated over and over again that it just wasn't their problem that my nursing baby was seated across the plane and that I'd have to come up with a solution on my own.

And if your a parent with little ones and you want to sit with your little ones, I'd make sure to book another airline!


  1. I've used Southwest a lot because they tend to have cheaper tickets on average and they don't assign seats. It's first come first served for the most part. Or at least it was. I haven't flown in about 2 years since before I got married. Not sure if Southwest goes your way or not. Just an idea.

  2. Yep, Southwest is still unassigned seating, I flew with them earlier this year. Although you do line up outside the plane by numbers but when you get on you choose where to sit. I really liked it. I also believe that they allow those with children to board first, so then you wouldn't have to worry about fighting with someone to get a seat next to your husband.

  3. Cam, Southwest may be the perfect solution for you. Their prices are excellent, they fly to numerous airports in Florida from San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento, and they have something called "Early Bird"check-in; for $10/person per one-way route it gives you priority in seating. We just flew them last week, and I really liked them. They also pre-boarded families with children.

    Hope this works out. Shame on Continental.


  4. I was going to comment on how another airline to be avoided is Southwest - then I saw all this support from them. Now I feel bad. However, I will still state my reason why: Southwest, the last time I checked (so it could have changed), openly supported gay pride parades and events. I just can't see giving my money to a company that will turn around and support a cause I disagree with. Just my 2 cents. Cam, sorry you had such a bad experience with Continental. Can't believe they had no heart!

  5. Oh that's awful! I'm sorry! I haven't flown with kids yet and have mixed feelings about it when we do...


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