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Nightmare Does Not Even Come Close: ATL-EWR 3/17-3/18

Nightmare Does Not Even Come Close: ATL-EWR 3/17-3/18

Old Mar 19, 07, 3:32 pm
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Nightmare Does Not Even Come Close: ATL-EWR 3/17-3/18

First off, I have always had really good luck while traveling. A delay here and there but nothing was ever too serious. That changed this weekend. I have never in my 19 years of life, ever experienced something this outrageous. There are no words to describe how truly awful my experience on Continental was. I hope you enjoy.

Saturday 12:30A.M.

I stayed up late packing and heard from family the weather back home, around the city and Northern Jersey, was bad. I really didnít think anything of it but checked the status of Continental 1154 and saw it was cancelled. Again it really didnít bother me and I went to bed thinking things would change.

Saturday 6:25A.M.

I get to ATL and head to the Continental check-in Area. This early in the morning and itís already a zoo. There was a line about 100 to 120 people deep waiting to speak to an agent. When I say ďanĒ agent I really mean it, there was only one. I became friendly with a Sargent from the NYPD and asked her to watch my bags. (We would spend the day together working together to get out of Atlanta) I went up to another agent and asked what she could do for me. In the calmest and most condescending tone I have ever heard, she said, ďYouíll just have to wait here, we canít get you out until TuesdayĒ. I go over to the woman I met and tell her. We both, by now, are extremely agitated. I started my spring break that day and she needed to get back to her family in New York. We work our way to the lone agent armed with as many questions as we can think of. He had been there for 5 hours (something we could tell from his appearance, but he so graciously volunteered to us later in the conversation) and was totally out of it. We tried every single city combination from Atlanta, but everything was oversold or cancelled. It was like he was a zomby though, he was giving us limited information. He gave us two choices, get a refund for the ticket or be put on standby for CO 1150 at 3:45P.M. At that time there were 38 people on standby. By the time the flight boarded there would be 58. That information aside, we got our BPís and headed to security.

Saturday 8:00A.M-11:30A.M.

Security looked like a mob scene but it moved pretty quickly. We trekked down those really long escalators to the subway for concourses A through E. They have those boards with all the flights in-front-of the train so we decided to see what other flights to the New York Area were departing. It became clear since ATL is a Delta hub, we should try to be put on standby for one of their flights. That decided, we went to the D concourse to talk with a Continental representative. She told us we could switch from out Continental ticket to one from Delta. That meant we had 4 chances to get home on flights to New York. We spent the next two and a half hours running from Concourse D to A and B. We talked to a few agents from Delta and they said to go over to the Delta Customer Service area in-front-of A18. That area was an even bigger zoo than security. She being a Sergeant, we pushed our way to the wall of phones. There was a man finishing his conversation as we both walked up and we asked to speak to the person he was talking to. He handed the phone to the Sergeant and the Delta rep said, ďIím sorry everyone has to wait their tern.Ē. That is a bunch of BS, when there are hundreds of angry people around, your job is to make things efficient, this was definitely not that. It finally came down to the Delta people telling us we needed to go back to Continental. The real kicker though was, the woman at CO never switched our tickets or put us on standby for anything. We went from hoping to get on one of four flights to just being on standby for one.

Saturday 2:15P.M.

We walked back to the same desk where the woman seriously misinformed us. We didnít think she would still be there, but we were so glad she was. We waited, there were about 5 people ahead of us, talking loudly enough so she could hear us. Finally she was available and we both asked her what was going on. She said, Delta should have taken the ticket but for some reason they were choosing not to. She could have stamped something on our tickets, but by now it was getting too close to the boarding tome for us to run to Concourse A. So unbelievably frustrated, we through our hands up and went to the boarding gate D12.

Saturday 3:10P.M.

We just sat there thinking of the days events and how badly Continental screwed us. I actually got on the phone with 800-WE-CARE2, but the line was busy. What a shocker. In fact, the 800 number for Continental was busy all day. As we were talking, we noticed the flight time had been moved to 5:45. It was almost enough to make us sick to our stomachs. We went up to the counter to ask what the hell was going on and they didnít have any answers. At the desk, we asked about how they determine standby. One said it was first come first serve and the other said it was based on your fare class and status with CO. Do any of you know the real answer?

Saturday 4:30P.M.

Nothing eventful really happened between 3:10P.M. and this point. Shortly after 4:30P.M. though the gate agent got on the loudspeaker and explained there was a red alert at EWR and nothing arrive or depart. Fair enough, but she made this statement over another announcement. After it was done, she began to scream over the loudspeaker saying things like, ďall of you better be quiet, I donít want you coming up to the desk and asking the same questionsĒ. It was absolutely appalling, it was like she was talking to us like we were three. It was completely unacceptable and she was a supervisor too. The Sergeant I was with got her name so Iím sure something will happen.

Saturday 5:30P.M.

This was the icing on the cake, she got on the speaker again and told us the crew for this flight was yet to arrive. They werenít even in Newark. It was completely outrageous. The womanís tone was still very nasty. By now there were 30 or so people in-front-of the counter. About 8 of us began to talk about how crazy things were. Someone said they began cancelling flights Thursday night, no one told us that. Continental didnít have any information about that on their web page.

5:45P.M.

By now, we found out there were almost 60 people on the standby list. Of the 8, 5 of us were standby. Our chances really looked good though. Instead of the regular 737-500, they brought in a 155 seat 737-800. At the gate area, there didnít look to be that many people. All this information into account, our spirits were high. The crew arrived shortly after and they were ready to begin boarding.

5:50P.M.

Now a lot more people came. What looked to be about 100 was now close to 200 people waiting by the gate area. The woman I was with asked the gate agent a question, while there were a few people ahead of her. The gate agent lost it and started screaming at the woman I was with. Naturally, the Sergeant yelled back. The woman walked to her and handed out the WE-CARE number. That was totally unprofessional, she never should have raised here voice. Now they began to board the plane and the 8 of us stood to the side. This was the best part about the entire day. Because of the altercation earlier, the gate agent called the police. There were 3 of them standing against he wall watching us. I still canít believe she called them. I have pictures and Iíll have to post them later.

The flight was completely full and oversold by at least 10 we were told. They eventually called all the rows of the aircraft and there were about 15 or 2o people standing around waiting for their names to be called. It was almost like wining the lottery. The list of standbyís was so long and it looked so hopeless. They called about 9 or 10 people and shut the door and that was it. That was the last flight to Newark of the day and there was no other way to get home. I was almost in tears. It was so frustrating to spend almost 12 hours at the airport, running from concourse to concourse, and have nothing productive happen. After this ordeal, I will NEVER fly Continental Airline again. I understand t his was weather, but the way they handled it was unforgivable.

Up next: Waiting on the tarmac for 4 hours and being faced with the possibility of turning around...
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Old Mar 19, 07, 4:35 pm
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Originally Posted by Sojourn View Post
I stayed up late packing and heard from family the weather back home, around the city and Northern Jersey, was bad. I really didn’t think anything of it but checked the status of Continental 1154 and saw it was cancelled. Again it really didn’t bother me and I went to bed thinking things would change.
Okay, you were thinking things would change. How would they change, exactly?

Originally Posted by Sojourn View Post
I have never in my 19 years of life, ever experienced something this outrageous.
19 years of life? Wow. That's a long time! You clearly have a lot of experience to be able to say:

Originally Posted by Sojourn View Post
After this ordeal, I will NEVER fly Continental Airline again.
This is a garden-variety weather delay. The minute you saw your flight was cancelled you should have made alternate plans. It isn't Continental's fault that you "didn't think anything of it."

When there's bad weather in the Northeast, you need to understand it could well set you back days, especially if you have no status with the airline. You're better off renting a car. Instead, you're whining to us.

And by the way, a "nightmare" is when the plane crashes. Not when you have a weather delay.
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Old Mar 19, 07, 4:42 pm
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As soon as their is *any* whiff of weather problems, I try to have a backup plan. I wouldn't even waste my time going to the airport if I knew the flight had been canceled, unless I had another plan.

I can phone from the comfort of home or hotel, and have a solution. Why wait until the next day when you *know* you'll be knee deep in other people trying to get to the same place? Seems like a much better idea than waiting around the airport for 12 hours.
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Old Mar 19, 07, 4:43 pm
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Originally Posted by orlandodlplat View Post
It isn't Continental's fault that you "didn't think anything of it."
The weather isn't CO's fault either.
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Old Mar 19, 07, 5:44 pm
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Sojourn said... at the desk, we asked about how they determine standby. One said it was first come first serve and the other said it was based on your fare class and status with CO. Do any of you know the real answer?

Most airlines determine this by fare class and status. Those of us that have status usually call the special toll free # that we have so that we don't have to run around the airport.

I'm surprised that the CO employee lost their cool. Sad to say, it's to be expected.

dh
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Old Mar 19, 07, 5:49 pm
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While the situation as described does not sound fun... it does sound like typical irrops with almost all domestic carriers during widespread weather cancellations.

The lesson for the OP should be that when you learn the day before (or even day of) that your flight has been canceled - you call and get rebooked or make other plans, you don't go to the airport and expect to get on the next flight out.
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Old Mar 19, 07, 6:00 pm
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I am sorry to hear about your troubles, but this is weather related. Yes, gate agents should not have raised their voices, but this is the only issue I see here. Anything else was a product of poor planning on OP's part (how would "things change" again?) and lack of experience in dealing with airline travel.
To many seasoned travelers here, it seems that 12 hours at the airport because of weather related issues is not the worst thing that can happen, and certainly doesn't warrent the typical "I will not be flying CO again".
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Old Mar 19, 07, 6:09 pm
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Originally Posted by asnovici View Post
I am sorry to hear about your troubles, but this is weather related. Yes, gate agents should not have raised their voices, but this is the only issue I see here. Anything else was a product of poor planning on OP's part (how would "things change" again?) and lack of experience in dealing with airline travel.
To many seasoned travelers here, it seems that 12 hours at the airport because of weather related issues is not the worst thing that can happen, and certainly doesn't warrent the typical "I will not be flying CO again".
Actually it does. I may be only 19, but I've traveled enough to have a basic sense of what an airline should do. This was a nightmare, spending a day at an airport when I'm on spring break is not very fun. Mabey I should have planned better but whatever. I went to the airport to see what I could do. I certainly wasn't going to sit around. Like I said in my report, I couldn't call CO or any other airline because the numbers were all busy. Next time it's Delta. Like I said, this is the last time I will fly with them.
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Old Mar 19, 07, 6:16 pm
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A fairweather friend, indeed.

Originally Posted by Sojourn View Post
Like I said in my report, I couldn't call CO or any other airline because the numbers were all busy.
Like you said in your original report, you found out the night before, and then shrugged it off and went to sleep. You never mentioned calling at all until after you woke up.

Originally Posted by Sojourn
Saturday 12:30A.M.

I stayed up late packing and heard from family the weather back home, around the city and Northern Jersey, was bad. I really didn’t think anything of it but checked the status of Continental 1154 and saw it was cancelled. Again it really didn’t bother me and I went to bed thinking things would change.
As someone who has been stuck in NYC during a blizzard like occurrence (Jan 2005), I fully understand what needs to be done. I showed up early to the airport once I saw the weather was going to be bad. I got moved to an earlier flight, and thought I was safe once I was on the plane. After a number of deicing attempts and worsening weather, back to the gate I went.

Getting a hotel was difficult, but I managed to find one. I immediately called the airline, and got a flight out the next day out of EWR (I had been going out of LGA). Was it easy? No. Was it fun? No. Do I blame the airline? No.

If you really think that Delta never has problems, you're in for a huge shock.
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Old Mar 19, 07, 6:18 pm
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Originally Posted by Sojourn
Next time it's Delta. Like I said, this is the last time I will fly with them. I may be only 19, but I've traveled enough to have a basic sense of what an airline should do. This was a nightmare, spending a day at an airport when I'm on spring break is not very fun.
Originally Posted by Sojourn
We talked to a few agents from Delta and they said to go over to the Delta Customer Service area in-front-of A18. That area was an even bigger zoo than security. She being a Sergeant, we pushed our way to the wall of phones. There was a man finishing his conversation as we both walked up and we asked to speak to the person he was talking to. He handed the phone to the Sergeant and the Delta rep said, “I’m sorry everyone has to wait their tern.”. That is a bunch of BS, when there are hundreds of angry people around, your job is to make things efficient, this was definitely not that.
As you described yourself... Delta was just as big of a mess. You will not find the grass any greener on other carriers during similar weather situations. You should be blaming the externalities and you not proactively making other arrangements the night before.

Also, it seems like you are angry that you had to wait around 12 hours. That's just a fact of life during weather problems. The agents can't fix the weather or make more aircraft show up.

This sort of situation is very typical of airports and airline operations during the few really bad weather days of the year. It is even more so the experience that everyone without high level status gets during such irregular operations.

Should agents not be rude? Of course. I'm not one to defend nasty agents... but when there's no available flights and hundreds of angry customers with unrealistic expectations, I can understand where some of the agents are coming from.

Last edited by alliance; Mar 19, 07 at 6:24 pm
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Old Mar 19, 07, 6:20 pm
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Originally Posted by Sojourn View Post
Mabey I should have planned better but whatever.
I think that very quote says it all. Yes, you should have planned better, and you got yourself into "whatever".
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Old Mar 19, 07, 6:28 pm
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It's funny how the people who complain the loudest about the airlines supposed poor service during these storms are inevitably the ones whose own decisions were what got them into trouble.

I hope you learn from this. Never just assume that things will "work themselves out."
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Old Mar 19, 07, 6:32 pm
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All your comments are a little harsh, I must say. It almost sounds like you don't have any sympathy for me. Yeah it was weather and mabey I made mistakes, but this was still a nightmare. All I wanted from CO were answers. Can any of you imagine planning to leave on a Saturday and being told you canít leave until Tuesday? Thats outrageous. No person in their right mind would say, ďOh well Iím just going to have to stay here...Iíll just be at the airlines MercyĒ I stayed at the airport to be put on standby. Thatís why I got home last night instead on tonight.
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Old Mar 19, 07, 6:39 pm
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Originally Posted by Sojourn View Post
All your comments are a little harsh, I must say. It almost sounds like you don't have any sympathy for me. Yeah it was weather and mabey I made mistakes, but this was still a nightmare. All I wanted from CO were answers. Can any of you imagine planning to leave on a Saturday and being told you can’t leave until Tuesday? Thats outrageous. No person in their right mind would say, “Oh well I’m just going to have to stay here...I’ll just be at the airlines Mercy” I stayed at the airport to be put on standby. That’s why I got home last night instead on tonight.
You expected sympathy? Most of us have been in similar situations ourselves. I've been delayed because of lightning strikes on planes, typhoons, plus flown during the SARS scare, numerous snow storms and so many other situations, I can't even remember them all.

What FlyerTalk has taught me, is to nip any problem in the bud. Call as soon as possible, look at flying out of different cities, routing different ways, etc. The phone is your friend.

It's good that you stuck it out, but it sounds like 100,000 people this weekend went through a similar adventure.

Considering your tag line, If life gives you lemons, grab some tequila and salt, I would think you would have handled it better.
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Old Mar 19, 07, 9:00 pm
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Originally Posted by Sojourn View Post
All your comments are a little harsh, I must say. It almost sounds like you don't have any sympathy for me. Yeah it was weather and mabey I made mistakes, but this was still a nightmare. All I wanted from CO were answers. Can any of you imagine planning to leave on a Saturday and being told you canít leave until Tuesday? Thats outrageous. No person in their right mind would say, ďOh well Iím just going to have to stay here...Iíll just be at the airlines MercyĒ I stayed at the airport to be put on standby. Thatís why I got home last night instead on tonight.
Sympathy? HAH!

And I repeat my original point... a "nightmare" is when you take off in the storm, the wings are iced over and you pinwheel back to the tarmac in a fiery wreck. That, my friend, is a "nightmare." The fact that Continental (and all other carriers) chose not to fly in that weather when instead they could make money and avoid complaints from people like you... should indicate that it simply wasn't safe enough to fly. You should thank them for putting safety first.

As for your desire to switch to Delta, please don't. Then you'll be on the Delta board every day complaining that you didn't get your Biscoffs because turbulence kept the flight attendants in their seats.
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