We’ve written about Continental Airlines in the past — and today, we’re having at them again — because they consciously make it incredibly hard to get a complaint filed. We are grateful we have this public outlet to express our ongoing dismay with their service and to warn you against a similar fate.
Every time Janna flies to visit Iowa, she lands in Omaha, Nebraska. Each time she flies back to New Jersey, the Continental gate attendant in Omaha refuses to accept her electronic boarding pass that Continental emails to her.
That disconnect in policy and customer service is frustrating, and when we finally decided to file a formal complaint, we were given the go-around on the phone, online and through the fax machine.
I first called Continental to complain about the refusal to accept an electronic boarding pass the morning it occurred. The Continental agent told me to “call the next day” when “Consumer Relations” were working.
The next day, when I called the “Consumer Relations” line, I was met with a rotating voice recording telling me my wait would be “over 45 minutes” and that I could, instead, go online, and give my feedback to Continental.
I hung up the phone and jetted online to complain. The online complaint form is overwhelmingly complicated. The window where you are allowed to complain has a limit of 2,000 characters. Our complaint was under 1,500 characters — yet the form refused to accept our complaint.
I found a fax number. I printed out our complaint and called the Continental fax line. After three failed attempts, my fax machine finally connected with theirs. It has been three days, and we never received a reply or an acknowledgment, from Continental that they read our complaint.
Here is the content of our complaint. Contact information has been redacted.
TO: Continental Airlines
RE: OMA Gate Experience
DT: August 2, 2010
I tried to send this via your web feedback form and it was not accepted. I am finally taking the time to complain about a gate worker in the Omaha airport. He is a tiny, thin, old, man and he refuses to take electronic boarding passes you email me to use on my iPhone.
Yesterday, for FLT 2916 OMA to NWK, Sunday, Aug 1., I tried to show the old man my electronic boarding pass on my iPhone and he told me he “didn’t accept them.”
This has happened to me on at least four trips with the same old man. I travel a lot. The only boarding agent in the USA who refuses to accept an electronic boarding pass is that mean man in Omaha. Fix him. Teach him. Remove him.
Yesterday, I decided to kindly confront him and ask why he refuses to accept electronic boarding passes when Continental obviously uses them.
He said, “I don’t have my glasses.” and he refused to read the bar code on my iPhone for my boarding pass and he removed me from the line and he sent me to a Continental kiosk to print out a paper boarding pass that, incidentally, he never “read” and just scanned. He could’ve done the same thing for my electronic boarding pass.
It isn’t right that Continental representatives will not accept electronic boarding passes that are emailed from Continental Airlines proper. If a certain employee refuses to accept them, then that is either a failure of training, or contemptuous refusal to abide by airline rules — and either option makes the customer angry and resentful.
The lesson in this Continental mess is to never give up. Call. Go online. Fax. Write a blog post. Be heard. Don’t let bad service exist to fester in the guts of others beyond you. Fight back. Stand up. Vote with your wallet.
We thank you.