An Open Letter to Continental/United Airlines

Dear Continental/United Airlines
(or is is United/Continental ? Unitinental? or Conited? not really sure...anyhoo),

It came to my attention, I believe last year, that your two distinct and separate airlines had decided to merge with one another.

When I look up the word "merge" in the dictionary, it reads: to combine, blend, or unite gradually so as to blur the individuality or individual identity of.

Perhaps when your two companies announced this "merger", you felt the operative word in this statement was "gradually." Because I sure do.

An innocent traveler, I assumed that a common logo painted boldly on all your airplanes symbolized a unity between the airlines and a common mission. I guess I didn't get that it meant "gradually."

Although I am grateful for a seat on a plane that took me across the United States plus an entire 12 ounce can of soda during the 3 1/2 hour flight, the check-in process was a bit alarming.

You see, dear airlines, I followed the directions! I checked in online and paid my baggage fee, all I really wanted to do was to appear at the airport, drop my bag off and receive two boarding passes. And it eventually did happen...gradually.

Your employees in your respective companies (company?), seem to be a little confused as well because the check in process went like this:

Try #1

Me: Hi, I need to drop my bag off, I have already checked-in and paid the fee.

United Employee: Oh, you are in the wrong line. You need to check in with Continental.

Me: okay.......

(I leave the line and shuffle over to the Continental counter)

Try #2

Me: Hi, I need to drop my bag off. I have already checked in and paid the fee.

Continental Employee: Oh, you are in the wrong line. You need to check in with United.

Me: Uh, they told me to come over here and check in. I have already been there.

Continental Employee: (rather rudely) Ma'am, trust me, you need to go over to the United counter and check in there.

Me: (smile fading) I understand that, but they told me to come over here

Continental Employee #2: They don't know what they are talking about. You need to go back over there.

Me: (deep breath) okay......

(I stride back over to United)

Try #3 

Me in line at the United counter, man who told me to go over to the Continental counter eyes me questioningly

Me: They told me to come back over here, I just need to drop my bag off.

United Employee: Go to the end of our counter and talk to someone else

Try #4 

Me waiting to talk to a new employee, not sure which airline she works for.....

Me: I have been back and forth a few times already, I just need to drop my bag off.

Mysterious Employee: Did you purchase two separate flights?

Me: No.

Mysterious Employee (after spending several minutes typing mysteriously on the computer): okay, here is your baggage tag.

Me: Can I please have my boarding passes?

Mysterious Employee (who is now revealed to work for United): I can only issue one boarding pass, you have to go to Continental to get the other.

Hands me one (ONE!!!) boarding pass, for exactly 2/3 of my journey. I look at her like, "seriously?"

No Longer Mysterious Employee: We do not issue each other's boarding passes

(My private inner monologue responds: "oh, of course. I thought merge meant one company, i should have known that a merged company doesn't issue each other's boarding passes")

(I skulk over to Continental)

Try #5

Me: Can I please get a boarding pass for the other half of my journey?

Continental Employee: Yes, we don't issue each other's boarding passes

(My private inner monologue at this point shall not be published)

Anyway, Continental/United corporation, I am no longer a satisfied customer. I feel confused (and it seems some of your employees feel so as well). I thought that the common logo meant a merged company. And perhaps it will be....gradually.

In the meantime, my bag, boarding passes and I shall shop for another means of flying. Maybe one day I will return to Unitinental.



Melissa said…
I try to avoid flying altogether b/c of the horrendous airlines. Your experience reminded me of the virtue we pray for in the fourth sorrowful mystery: patience in adversity.

How about "Conunital?" Or "UniCon?" or when it comes to getting there on time, not losing bags, or getting through the lines quickly..."Unicorn"...since by then we'd be in the land of make believe:+)

Glad you are home safe and sound:+)
"Unicorn"! love it! ha ha!!
Paige said…
I hope that you were wearing youe habit (which I'm sure you were.) Not that it makes it any better, but at least the general public around you may have been grumbling at the disrespectful treatment of a religious sister.
Love it and so agree with your frustration...I feel it most times I fly. I would almost really rather take a grey hound bus..or a covered wagon or something.

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