How Continental Appreciates America’s Troops
My enlisted son came home on a short leave. Almost five years ago he enlisted in the Navy. Signed up to serve in the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet, he was sent to the Pacific one instead. Several acts of God caused that–the four severe hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004. The 3,000 miles made it expensive and difficult for all of us. In our house it has always been all about God, Country, and family. He missed us and we missed him. We all knew though that he was doing the right thing.
A few weeks ago he applied for a short leave so he could fly home and visit a couple of colleges. He wants to go back to school to get the education he opted against when he enlisted while still in high school. He wanted to join 911 but we made him finish school first. We are very proud of him, his accomplishments, and his service for America. He served honorably, became a petty officer, was deployed in the war zone. He still plans to serve America but in the Reserves.
Too many people don’t realize what our armed forces face. The danger of conflict is a given. The stress of military life is underestimated. The inadequate pay is glossed over. This not a 40 hour, Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 day job. In that time his marriage crumbled; a relationship was fractured; and he lost rights to a child. Yet he is proud that he enlisted and would do it again in a heartbeat. America needed him.
My son had a $360 Continental ticket we had sent him before the holidays hoping he would be home for Thanksgiving. The leave didn’t come through–too many others had preference. Some people have to remain behind on their duty stations. He didn’t complain; nor did we. He knew he would be coming home eventually. Almost broke, he decided this trip (6/24) would be the perfect time to use it before it expired and save some money in the deal. He didn’t though. The trip was a horror show. Here’s the story why.
LA could not sign out until the end of his day on the 24th. Continental’s flights out of San Diego for the evening were full or beyond affordability as he was booking late. Then he learned of a flight leaving LAX at 9:48 P. M. (PST). He would have to take the train there so he checked times. They worked. He called Continental and asked about various issues. Fully assured there were no problems, he ticketed Los Angeles to Newark direct on the web. He was charged another $220 at the time.
He went on base with his one carry on. The day was long and hot. He left on time, scrapped the train ride because its schedule was tight, got a ride to the airport instead (a two hour fifteen minute one), navigated to reservations, etc.
Once there he was informed he must check his bag and not carry it on. He had a small bottle of cologne. He was not given the option of throwing it out. He did as ordered. That is what the military do.
He went directly to the gate where he was told–PLEASE note the plane was on the runway and other people were in the process of boarding it–he was two minutes late and, therefore, could not fly.
He was #3 standby on the next flight. He sat waiting. As others were called, the agent informed him he was moved to #13 as some Elite passengers had privileges. He was also informed maybe he would get out the next morning–and miss the necessary college visits scheduled. He blew his stack.
One of the employees actually said, “My son is in the service, and our military is not supposed to act this way.” Inappropriate criticism from someone who doesn’t know anything about the stress of deployment in a war zone or the loneliness of being isolated, away from the people who mean something. That man should get real.
After some arguing with the powers that be, after midnight LA was put on a puddle jumper to Houston, a lengthy layover, then another plane to Newark. He arrived a full day later than his odyssey began. Continental did nothing to compensate him for the extra money he paid to get a direct flight.
Here’s comes the irony. LA went to pick up the bag that Continental insisted he check for the 9:49 flight that they refused to board him on. It was lost. He was agitated. He had not slept in a day and a half. He went to claims to file a report. Well, his one piece was there and had been since the 9:48 flight that the airline refused to board him flew in. What does that prove? It proves Continental had enough time to to get his luggage on the scheduled flight and him as well YET they refused to let him fly.
I suppose Continental was overbooked and thought he would be the easy victim. Is it so cash and service short that it needs to do this? I suppose its bottom line is that keeping him off on a lame excuse saved itself from compensating another flier who involuntarily could not fly. Forced bumping mandates such recompense.
Remember short leave–college appointments and tests scheduled, no money for a night–this is how a man who has put his life on hold for America was treated. Continental’s actions made his coming home bittersweet. What do you think it should do now? I think the FAC should look further into the airline’s business practices and take it from there.