How Continental Appreciates America’s Troops

plane at airport

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.

12 thoughts on “How Continental Appreciates America’s Troops

  1. Janet,

    Please send me his address.  I would love to put together a little package for him.  The holidays are coming and shipping can take a while.

    Pat.

  2. Please tell your son, thank you!

    On another post I mentioned that my nephew was in Afghanistan right now and you asked when he was coming home. He just went over there, I don’t think he’s coming back until January, but he’s not sure until it gets closer.

  3. 195Nurse

    I could not understand about how depressed returning Vietnam soldiers really were until now.  Thank you for your kind words of support.  I wish more people commented to the blog or contacted Continental in a show of suupport.  Continental still its fliers.

    Pat.

  4. Isn’t this just a ‘snapshot’ of how things go for our Servicepeople when they come home on many levels! The very ones that should be treated with the utmost respect and gratitude get treated like….. like your Son was.
    I’d like to see this country go back to the attitude Americans had when our Troops came back home after WWII – and SHOW it!!!
    Bless your Son for his service – it’s young men & women like him who protect us & keep us FREE!!!!

  5. John,

    He came with the carryon so the carryon was as late as him.  Yet they put it on the plance he booked not him.  It got there on time while he was not.  The carryon is proof they screwed up.  But thn I am his mother and biased.

    Pat.

  6. I appreciate what the military do for the people of the US. Noone is anymore special that the next. If he was late…he was late. They could have told him that he was beat for the flight overall. Thanks LA for your time in the service. Can’t imagine that Continental will do anything about it… the economy is making sure of that.

  7. Lorrie,

    Let the flyer beware–simple as that.  I have put this in writing to the www, Continental, and the FAA.  Thank you for your suppoort.

    Pat.

  8. Lori, 

    Let the flyer beware–simple as that.  I have put this in writing to the www, Continental, and the FAA.  Thank you for your suppoort.

    Pat.

  9. Tamara,

    Let the flyer beware–simple as that.  I have put this in writing to the www, Continental, and the FAA.  Thank you for your suppoort.

    Pat.

  10. I am so sorry to her about your son’s problem with Continental and believe me I will never fly them. I would send a letter to their corporate office.

  11. I am so sorry your family had to go through all this, especially your son. No wonder we hear of the suicides and soldiers going “off the wall.” Little do we know.

    You should try turning this into newspaper editorial departments. You never know where it could lead, just to bring awareness.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Loni

  12. Please know that even if Continental doesn’t appreciate what your son does for this country, THIS American family most assuredly DOES!!!

    We also appreciate what you and the rest of your family does. My son is in the Army reserves and will be deployed to Afghanistan in October and I hope that I have the courage that you are displaying. God bless you and your family.

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