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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Continental Airlines Customer Service, Part II

See Part One

I really thought this was going to be a fight to the death, but I was nothing but impressed with Continental Airlines. The contrast between Continental and Us Airways was pretty amazing, and it's clear that paying more to fly with Continental is worth it.

Granted, we flew first class down to Bonaire, but still. Todd claims that the meals and benefits of flying in first class do not seem as good as they did years ago, but this was my first time in real (not Airtran) first class, so I didn't care. I was also drunk before we got to Houston.

All of our flights were nice, all left on time. Both of our flights home landed early, with the BON-HOU flight being almost 30 minutes early (that's a lot!). Even in coach on the way home, we were given breakfast (not a great breakfast, but cereal and a muffin is a lot to ask from an airline these days). We had multiple drink services, which also is amazing for coach. All four flights included movies, three of which I watched - Kung Fu Panda was my favorite.

So, I did have my dilemma regarding flights on the way home and here is how it went. I didn't speak to anyone from Continental about it anymore until we got to the airport to leave Bonaire. I asked the woman who checked us in. She shrugged and said she couldn't help us. I was feeling flustered from our adventures trying to return the rental car, so I just let it go and we got on the plane.

We landed in Houston and went through customs. I love Houston! Little to no line in customs, and in the room where customs was they were playing Disney music (the music from Illuminations)! How awesome!

While we were waiting for our bags, I called Continental Airlines Customer Service. I got through immediately to International Reservations. I explained what was going on, that I wanted to be on the earlier (1:30pm) flight. The reservations person said that because of Tropical Storm Hanna, they were not charging a change fee. I said awesome. She asked if I wanted to go ahead and change my flight. I said yes. She made the change and told me to just have my bags rechecked for the correct flight once we got them, and I hung up.

Todd was nervous because of the tropical storm (he thought that the earlier flight might be canceled). I thought we had to go with the earlier flight, it was our only chance of having a good run on Sunday. We got our bags, took them to the counter in International Arrivals. The guy there rechecked them and gave us updated boarding passes. We went to the gate and got on the plane, with extra time to stop and eat Texas BBQ for lunch.

That was really it. We were supposed to land in Baltimore at 10:48pm. Instead, we were on the beltway heading home by 6:00 because the plane landed early. We were in bed by 10. Pretty awesome.

The only issues we had with Continental was luggage space. Divers bring a lot of luggage, and most of us on the plane were divers. So, on both BON flights they ran out of overhead bin space. Some people had bags that were way too big. And it's only going to get worse now that Continental is charging $15 for the first checked bag.

But still, it was good.

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