Dear Continental Airlines,
First off let me say that I really don’t normally get upset about travel SNAFU’s. There are so many minute details that all have to come together to make for flawless travel that it’s pretty rare when it happens. Not to mention having to remove shoes and jackets, and still requiring the extra Hottie hair pat down after the cosmic ray scanner. When I was little, traveling was fun and kind of glamorous, now it’s all about getting from point A to point B with as little hassle as possible. So I try really hard to be patient and just go with the flow.
On my recent trip to New Orleans with Iva Handfull we traveled via Continental Airlines to the New Orleans Burlesque Festival. With the exception of the hour long baggage drop at SeaTac the trip down was a breeze with no delays and our luggage made it no problems. The trip back proved a little more problematic. It started out innocently enough and we got to the bag drop, all checked in online. The line wasn’t too bad and we get to the counter and our luggage is whisked away. It wasn’t until we were heading to security that we realize the lady didn’t ask for our ID. I’m pretty sure I have ID checked whenever I check luggage, and Iva agreed as well. We breeze through security(with the exception of the enhanced Hottie hair pat down and subsequent cosmic rays) and wait to board.
We were about forty minutes late taking off from NOLA which then caused us to miss our connecting flight in Houston. After much running around from Terminal C to B, back to C and then landing at Terminal E (and a VERY nice Alaska Airlines agent-wish we’d flown Alaska!) I was informed by a surly Continental/United gate agent that I had to check in with Continental/United customer service. We head to customer service and the agent tells us that there is room on the next flight out at 9:05pm and we’re all booked. Yay! We ask about our luggage and were informed that it would go out on the next flight as well. Double yay! We board the plane and land in Seattle on time.
We head to the baggage claim and wait. And wait. And wait. No luggage so we head to the Delayed Baggage Information agent desk which is through the hobbit door and takes you into the Land Of Lost Luggage. Without saying hi or can I help you? the customer service agent holds out her hand and says, “baggage ticket”. Oh, that’s how you want to play, huh? I whipped out and slapped down my baggage ticket and she informs me that our luggage should be landing in Houston shortly. Huh? I thought it was already in Houston? She told me it hadn’t even left NOLA on the correct flight in the first place. Three huge suitcases containing our burlesque costumes and the entire inventory of ties that we took to vend at NOBF. We are issued a Delayed Baggage Information file reference number and told that it our bags should land in Seattle in the AM and they would be couriered out to us.
The next day, I call the Continental Airlines Baggage Resolution Center (aka The Land Of Lost Luggage) and am informed that my bag will be landing in Seattle at 1pm and will go out on the 3pm truck for delivery. I confirm my address and am told it will be delivered between 3pm and 9pm. 10pm rolls around and nothing to I once again call the Resolution Center. The agent that time acted shocked that I didn’t have it because according to the courier company it was delivered. Uh no, it hasn’t been. She contacts the courier company and they tell her it’s on the truck for delivery. I ask about compensation and the agent said I could get some ‘vouchers’. I tell her that I just want my $35 fee back that I paid for the bag and she tells me that’s not possible. Midnight rolls around and I finally just call the courier company directly and the lady that answered tells me the drivers said they couldn’t deliver it that night because they all had to be back by 2:30am to pick up bags at hotels. What the what? I have no clue what she was talking about but she promises my bag will be delivered between 9-11am the next morning. Because it’s now a work day for me, I tell them they need to change the delivery address to my place of work since that’s where I’ll be during the ‘guaranteed delivery’ window.
I get to work and the hours roll by. At 10:30 I call the courier service again and am told that the lady last night gave me the wrong window, it’s supposed to be 9am to 1pm. I inform her that my place of business closes from 1-2 for lunch so the driver would have to make sure it was before 1:00. I ask the agent to let the driver know that we were closed at that time and she assured me she would. 12:50 rolls around and no suitcase. This time, just for shits and giggles I call the Airlines Baggage Resolution Center again and thankfully the agent I got this time was the only person during the whole FUBAR situation that seemed to know what she was doing. I don’t know her last name, but her first name was Donna and she was an angel. I’d like to take a moment to thank Donna and Continental/United should thank her as well because she single handedly kept me as a customer. She was appalled that I didn’t have my bag, immediately contacted the driver of the courier company who assured her he’d have it to me by 1pm. Donna told me to call her after I got my bag back and she’d make sure my compensation was significantly higher than my $35 bag fee.
1:05 rolls around and I clock out and we lock up for lunch. At 1:35 my cell phone rings and it’s the delivery driver with my bag. He tells me that he was never informed that we closed at 1pm for lunch and agrees to wait until we’re back in the office at 2pm. At 2:20 he shows up and I’ve got my bag back. I call Donna and she issues me a generous travel voucher good for a year on Continental/United Airlines.
Congratulations Continental for the single worst luggage experience I’ve ever had. It’s actually quite impressive that although my luggage was never technically ‘lost’ there didn’t seem to be a single person that could deliver one suitcase 45 minutes north of Seattle in less than two days. Bravo.