I have flown a number of times on Continental and find their planes comfortable, and their service friendly and efficient.
Continental’s major east coast hub is Newark, a very attractive facility. Flying Continental from Washington often means a layover and transfer in Newark.
In 2006, coming back from Israel, we landed on a weekday evening only to find out that, because of thunderstorm activity, the airport had closed for all takeoffs. Our short layover for the short flight to DC was not to be.
To its credit, Continental provided overnight lodging, something that they might not have had to do. But the line to get lodging was hours long, and then you needed to get in an equally long line to be rebooked. Our lodging was 40 miles south of Newark, as I recall, and because it made no sense to go back to the airport in the morning and we had all of our bags, we rented a car and drove home.
That was then (2006); this is now (2008). Our flight back from Seattle was due to leave Seattle at 11 a.m. and arrive in Newark around 7 p.m., in plenty of time to enable us to get on an 8:30 flight home. But the 11 a.m. flight did not leave Seattle until 12:30 (they told us it was weather related; I am not sure), and did not get into Newark until 8:45. I believe that every transferring passenger on the plane missed his or her connection. We missed ours. (In fact, the Boston passengers could have made their connection, but the Newark grounds crew were not there to wave the plane to a gate, causing the pilot to say “We suggest you write a complaint and tell them that it was not our fault, but the fault of the grounds crew.”
This time, there was no free accommodation. There was nothing. On the plane, I was a crew member if our baggage would be shipped automatically to BWI, or if we needed to retrieve it at Newark (we had an insurance reservation for the first flight today, leaving at 8:15). Without hesitation, she told us we had to get our luggage. Wrong.
At the baggage assistance counter, we were told that the bags would be on the first flight to BWI, and there was no way to retrieve them in Newark. We were told that the bags would be on that flight whether we were on it or not. We were given an “amenity package” to make our overnight stay (on a bench at the airport?) comfortable.
We debated what to do. The idea of finding a hotel in Newark seemed like an effort, and probably an expensive one. And what if something happened to the flight the next day? So we decided to rent a car and drive (a la 2006).
Enter Hertz. I am a Hertz Gold Star member , and have been for years. Too bad, they said. Although they had a lot of cars, they could not rent any that would not be returned to the Newark airport. Didn’t matter who I was or what my connection with the company was. I couldn’t believe it.
We went to Avis, which was very accommodating.
Then we drove about 2/3 of the way, stopping at a Super 8 motel south of Philadelphia. Which was just find and $69 per room. I think that the cost of the car and the Super 8 was probably about what we would have paid for the hotel alone in Newark. Our dinner (at 11 p.m., while were driving) consisted of the left overs of the snacks we took for the plane, and our breakfast was provided by the Super 8.
We arrived at BWI just after the plane landed from Newark. We had three bags to pick up. Unfortunately, only two came. We don’t know where the third one is, and Continental does not appear to have a way to check. When it comes, if it comes, they will deliver it to our house.
So, that’s it for me with Continental and Newark. I just hope I remember.