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Continental Airlines

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      30.06.2011 20:20

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      A good airline who I'd use again with no worries

      We flew Continental in earlier this year. The main reason for using them was to be able to fly from Edinburgh, and also as they came out the cheapest. I booked through Expedia to get a package, though the prices were the same as booking direct.

      We got off to a rocky start when they changed us from our 2.5 hour connection in Newark to a 1.5 hour connection which, as inexperienced travellers, made us slightly anxious. I loved that we could pick and move our seats on the website, I checked every week to move us to better seats as they became available. Their website is pretty useless though, trying to update passenger information was impossible, as was doing online check-in.

      The actual flights were very good - the in-flight entertainment was great (being able to pick and play/pause the films on the seat-back screens was a big bonus), the staff polite and helpful and the food was surprisingly edible!

      We made our connection with plenty time to spare. We were delayed on the second leg which, while unavoidable, would have been improved if the gate staff had actually said that there was a delay and what the problem was instead of the silence that we got.

      I'd definitely fly Continental again.

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      17.01.2011 16:01

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      ...beside the unfriendliest staff worldwide , small seats and VERY bad Breakfast, Lunch(sandwiches) and Dinner,- they do not even offer an entertainment system or power plugin on their 5 -7 hours flights from Newark to San Jose , Costa Rica.... UNBELIEVABLE! Do yourself a favour and take another Airline.

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      19.05.2010 14:37
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      First time flying with Continental ever and I have to say the flight was fine, no issues really at all with it.

      I am hoping to write quite a few New York reviews, as i'm just back from a holiday of a lifetime there. My first time there and I have fallen in love. I know people say that once is enough for over there and I can see how that would be the case, but I would certainly go back for a few days again.

      Anyway we are thinking about the Airline that took me to that great place now.

      Probably one of the biggest draws about using this Airline is that they were the only ones to offer a direct flight from Edinburgh to Newark New York. I have to wonder why all the other airlines have to do Edinburgh-London-Newy York, or Edinburgh-Amsterdam-New York. I can understand that is may be good to break the flight up, but I had no desire to sit about an Airport for 4 hours hanging about.

      We kept checking the website for the prices for the flights and booked nearly as soon as the dates came up as we knew when we wanted to travel. What it seems like is that as soon as the dates are available then it seems the prices are the cheapest, but i'm not sure if that is how all airlines work. The price for the 2 of us flying from Thusday the 6th of May on the 1st flight of the day at 9.25am, and returning on the last flight at night on Friday the 14th of May at 22.15 was coming out at basically £660 for the 2 of us. This had all fees and taxes added in. However my husband had to check he could get the time off, and when we booked a week later the flights had jumped up to £832. About a quarter of the seats had been booked by then, so we can only assume that is how the price had creeped up that bit.

      Booking was easy enough. You could pick your seat, which was a welcome break of the "first come first served" we have been used to with Ryanair. You could check and book your Boarding pass online, but only if you had flown with Continental in the last year otherwise they had to check everything at the airport. No hardship again.

      I had to phone Continental a few times as I was fretting about their schedule due to the Ash Cloud, and even the day before we were due to travel the flights had been cancelled. Although it was quite hard to find a contact telephone number for them, once I found it I have to say their telephone service was alright. Although it was Americans I had to speak to, no doubt because they are an American Airline and sometimes they couldn't understand my accent eventually we got their in the end and they were polite and friendly.

      So, about the flights. On the flight out it was delayed for an hour. This was due to the incoming Airoplane not being able to come into the airspace at the right time as the UK was still under restriction at this time, so no fault of the airline. Boarding was done quickly and efficiently and we were hardly in the air when they were coming around with Drinks. All soft drinks were free of charge (or added in to your flight ticket in reality) and there was a good enough choice of the usual ones such as Coke, Diet Coke, Fresh Orange, Apple Juice and a few others. Ovbiously there was Tea and Coffee as well.

      Each seat had a tv monitor in front of it and you could choose what you wanted to watch with your Continental Earphones that you got. You could watch a good enough selection of films, some tv shows which I didn't think was a great selection, some albums, but nothing that special for them in my eyes. The games were alright and I finally got into the game that is online called Bejewelled, which is pretty addictive.

      The flight was 7 and a half hours long and we got a meal around 12pm which was some Chicken Breast with Pasta and Sauce, A Bread Roll and a little Cake thing. About an hour before we landed we got a small Roll with Hot Ham and Melted Cheese, a packet of Crisps and a little Crispy cake.

      Staff were attentive enough and always walking through the cabin asking if we wanted anything else to drink, or asking if we had any rubbish.

      Things were much the same on the way back as well. There was another delay on the return leg. Unfortunately this was for 4 hours, and if you had noted that we were due to fly home at 10.25pm, then at around 2am in the morning then it wasn't so good. Also add into this that we were jumping forward 5 hours coming back into UK time and since I cannot really sleep well in Airoplane seats then I could have ended up sleepy and grumpy, but it wasn't too bad, and nothing a sleep when I got home couldn't sort. The Airline gave us each a $6 voucher to use for a snack in the Airport, but unfortunately this came after I had bought some Chips and was all full up. I still used it for a bag of Dunkin Donut's using the Scottish way of take anything you can get for nothing and We ate a few of them later in the day. I know that the Catering Cart would have been prepared in advance for this flight, but smelling Chicken Curry at 3am made me feel a bit queazy. We also got a Croissant for BReakfast, but by this time I was still off my food.

      So how was Continental in my eyes? They were good enough. Yes, the delays weren't ideal, but both were Weather related and not anything to do with the Airline, the bonus of a direct flight was perfect, the food was ok and the staff were good enough. I would fly with them again.

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        21.04.2010 13:31

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        even with solid proof i was called a lier!!!!

        Continental airlines have been nothing be a complete disgrace during the ash cloud crisis over Europe. My original fight was cancelled last friday, then my rearranged flight was cancelled for monday and all they could offer me was the following Tuesday 27th April. UK have now lifted the ban and after 3 hours on the phone waiting and some very rude staff that did not really care that i had been stuck out in the US for an extra 10 days and that it is costing me a lot of money, we have work to go back to and my partners blood pressure medication is running out and with NO compensation from anyone other than a $12 food voucher. They changed my flight to 1 day earlier so only 9 days after the original flights with $12 compensation. the staff on the phone pretty much called me a lier when i said i have your website open and i can see flights available earlier. They said it can't be i even offered to send the photos of my screen or email screen shots. I have never know such uncaring rude inefficient service from an airline. I travel to the US many times a year and this is the first time i have used Continental, I would suggest you stay clear, i will be.

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        18.03.2010 15:36
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        A US carrier which allows you to fly there without going to London first

        When I booked my last trip to the US I had initially booked with Delta from Edinburgh. Unfortunately a couple of months after I made the booking Delta decided to pull their direct flight to New York from Edinburgh leaving me with a convoluted itinerary which wasn't really feasible.

        As a result I had to cancel and rebook with another airline and the only airline which operates scheduled flights to the US from Scotland is Continental.

        I was loathe to travel through London as my autistic daughter gets very stressed in crowded environments and I thought if I could get the journey done in as few legs as possible this would also be easier for her.
        I did have reservations about flying with Continental. I had previously used them on a trip to New York in 2001 and hadn't been particularly impressed. On that trip the inflight entertainment system had broken down on the plane and we were given a bucks fizz as way of compensation. As you can imagine we felt a little short changed as an airline bucks fizz will keep you entertained for all of five minutes which doesn't really cut the mustard on an 8 hour flight.

        However my sister had flown with them in 2007 to New York from Glasgow and thought they were great, although she did inform me that their inflight entertainment system was still very much of the "one screen for the whole cabin" variety.

        Upon checking various travel websites I decided to go ahead and book my trip to New York and Las Vegas using Continental however as overall they came out as the cheapest, never mind they were easily the most convenient.

        ~~A Little Bit About Continental~~

        Continental Airlines have been in existence since 1934 and have been a fixture of American aviation for decades now. They have hubs at New York Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey, Houston in Texas and Cleveland, Ohio. The airline was purely a domestic US carrier until the mid 1980s.

        In 1997 they embarked on an aggressive campaign to increase their international services and over time have expanded operations to many provincial cities - for instance they serve Belfast, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh in the UK and also Hamburg and Munich in Germany.

        They are the largest carrier in the New York city area and bring more passengers to the city than any other.

        For several years they were part of the Sky Team Alliance but in 2009 they switched to Star Alliance, which offers more flexibility with codeshare agreements.

        ~~The Experience~~

        ***International Flights***

        You can check-in online with Continental Airlines. You do this using your booking reference on their website 24 hours before your flight is due to depart. If you have registered on the website the airline will send you an e-mail reminder.

        I tried to check in for my first flight which was the section between Edinburgh and Newark, however I wasn't able to do so - I could only get so far and the screen would freeze.

        I telephoned the airline to try to see what the problem was and the helpful American operator informed me that if you haven't travelled to the US "recently" then online check-in wasn't possible as your passport would have to be physically checked along with confirmation you had completed the electronic ESTA visa waiver online before departure.

        I had read some reviews of the airline which stated they were bad for not honouring seat reservations and this was a major concern to me as there is no way my daughter can be separated from me during travel because of her autism. I took the opportunity to ask the airline operator if my seats would definitely be honoured and she assured me they would be, but also said she would make sure it was noted on the system that my daughter needed me beside her at all times.

        Our flight was due to depart just after 9.00 am so we turned up at Edinburgh Airport just before 6.00 am. Check-in wasn't open when we arrived but we didn't have too long to wait for it opening at 6.00 am. A queue had already formed and every passenger's passport was individually checked by a security guard before we could proceed to the check-in desk.

        I was delighted to see that the seats we had reserved were honoured and equally delighted at how quick check-in was - even with the queue we were processed within 30 minutes which made a huge change to waits of at least an hour at Heathrow in the past.

        Continental use Boeing 757-200 planes on their provincial flights from the UK to Newark. These planes are narrow bodied and the seat configuration is 3:3 with a fairly narrow aisle. We were seated mid-cabin and had a window and middle seat. The plane was full (the flight the day before had been cancelled due to bad weather in New York) but with a young woman seated in the aisle seat beside us, I felt perfectly comfortable in the middle seat.

        I was delighted to see that Continental have revamped their service to include full AVOD inflight entertainment throughout the cabin. There was a good choice of entertainment on offer including an extensive range of TV programmes (mostly American), movies and games. There was also the obligatory flight map so you could keep an eye on where you were once up in the air.

        Headsets are provided free of charge. The headsets are the uncomfortable round, in-ear ones and the jacks on seats are the two pin variety. Fortunately all headsets come with an adaptor so if you wish to use your own headsets you can.

        There are no amenity kits offered in economy and no pillows or blankets were provided on the outward journey either, so if you want to sleep you might find it a little chilly unless you have your own travel blanket in your hand luggage.

        We were offered two meals on the flight - a lunch which was the obligatory "chicken or beef". I had the beef and was delighted at how tender it was. Soft drinks are free but if you want an alcoholic drink you will be charged $6 for it in economy. All drinks are free in business class.
        Our snack consisted of a hot sandwich which was handed out about 90 minutes before we were due to land in New York.

        As seems to be the norm with US carriers, cabin crew were older and more experienced and whilst it wasn't the warmest of service it was certainly professional and efficient.

        The downside of the narrow bodied plane is that the queue for the toilet can be both long and a tight squeeze. I actually only went once and while the lavatories themselves were clean and well stocked with paper and soap, waiting to get in was problematic as you had to squeeze past people coming out so you could get in. I can't imagine it was pleasant for those people sitting close to the lavatories and this is something you might wish to bear in mind when selecting seats for your flight.

        On the return leg from Newark to Edinburgh the flight was equally full. Be warned that you need to be at your gate at least an hour before the flight is due to depart as every passenger has to have their passport checked before boarding. Once again our request for seats together was honoured although the seat row had been changed. This wasn't a problem however.

        On both trips I asked if we could preboard due to my daughter's autism and this was permitted without fuss. I really appreciated this as some airlines are reluctant to do this because my daughter doesn't have a physical disability.

        The return flight was an overnight flight so blankets and pillows were provided but if you want earplugs and an eye mask you will need to bring your own.

        The return journey was less pleasant for me because I had a lad of about 18 sitting beside me who had absolutely no idea about the concept of personal space and seemed to think it was perfectly acceptable to stick his elbows into me. He was very tall and I appreciate the legroom isn't brilliant in economy (seat pitch is 31 inches) but it's not very nice when you keep getting bumped by someone who can't get comfortable.

        I did manage to get a few hours sleep on the plane however, in spite of all this and this was my only complaint about the flight - and to be fair, this wasn't Continental's fault.

        ***Domestic Flights***

        I have learned over the years flying with American carriers domestically after a reasonably decent experience on international legs can lead one to wonder if the American carrier has a two tier service.

        You can find yourself being fed and watered flying from the UK to the US but as soon as you step on any flight described as "domestic" all that comes to an end. My worst experience of this was doing a 9 and a half hour flight from Chicago to Honolulu where food was available to purchase - except as the chief stewardess, a harridan of the highest order it must be said, cheerfully announced over the tannoy "there aren't enough for everyone".

        Similarly on the last trip I took with my husband to the US on NorthWest Airlines back in 2007 the international flights were outstanding - on new aircraft with excellent inflight service. Sadly the domestic flights were on planes which were past their sell by date and if you were lucky you got one soft drink and a small bag of pretzels, no matter how long the domestic flight was. I also sadly am not exaggerating when I say there was copious use of duct tape on some of the seats.

        So it would be fair to say my expectations were very low for the domestic flights we were taking on Continental between New York and Las Vegas, a journey which takes 5 hours.

        We checked in at Newark without incident. I couldn't check-in online due to a lack of a printer to get my boarding pass but this wasn't a problem and our seats were once again honoured.

        The plane was a Boeing 737-800 and inflight entertainment comprised of one large screen and several smaller ones dotted throughout the cabin meaning you had to watch whatever film cabin crew deigned to show. Headsets have to be paid for on domestic flights so it's definitely worth hanging onto the free ones you get on international flights - or at least to the adaptor, which is what we did.

        What surprised me most on the domestic flight was the fact complimentary food was offered. I hadn't been expecting this at all and as a result my daughter and I had filled up in the Garden State Diner restaurant at Newark Airport before we boarded.

        We received a hot chicken burrito sandwich along with a chocolate snack - which was perfectly adequate for the flight.

        The return flight was even better - this was on a Boeing 737-900 and Continental are installing DirecTV on these aircraft to provide inflight entertainment. DirecTV are the main sateliite TV provider in the US.

        For a cost of $6 you can watch live TV on the plane on a seat back screen. There is a vast array of channels to choose from and in light of the fact the flight was 5 hours, I paid for my daughter to watch it while I watched a movie on my iPod.

        She was able to watch Nickelodeon and there were some music channels too which kept her occupied, and by definition, quiet, throughout the flight.

        Continental are also trialling wifi capabilities in their cabins and it has to be said out of all the US carriers I have flown with they are easily the best when it comes to inflight entertainment and service on domestic flights.

        All flights were departed and arrived on time, which was something else we appreciated.

        It's worth noting that Continental do not accept cash as payment onboard their flights so make sure you have your credit card at the ready if you want to buy an alcoholic drink, some duty free or pay for TV to watch should you be lucky enough to board a plane which has it. Be wary of using your debit card however- many UK debit cards charge you excessive fees if you use them in a currency other than sterling and obviously prices onboard are all in US dollars.

        ~~Finally~~

        I had chosen Continental with fairly low expectations but have to say the experience was one which pleasantly surprised me.

        The 757-200 planes might feel claustrophobic to people who prefer to travel in a larger, wide bodied aircraft, but I found them perfectly acceptable on the journey from Edinburgh to New York.

        I liked the service onboard too - I have encountered some truly awful cabin crew on some American carriers in the past - so the professional and polite service offered by the Continental crew was a breath of fresh air.

        My only real complaint would be a wish for a slightly better seat pitch as 31 inches is a bit on the tight side and a real need for pillows and blankets on the outward leg to the US for those of us who want to try to offset the jetlag with a nap.

        These are fairly minor niggles however as the major advantages are just too good to overlook. Being able to fly to the US from a local airport is the biggest advantage but the inflight entertainment and service on both international and domestic flights are huge advantages too - too many US carriers offer a tale of "two airlines" with dramatically different service on international and domestic routes - so it is to Continental's credit that they don't do this.

        I would suggest if you live some distance from London or Manchester airports then you seriously consider using Continental to fly to the US.
        The service you will receive is onboard is excellent, and the entire experience of flying from a smaller airport is far more pleasant too.

        The hub at Newark is also a major advantage, offering convenient connections throughout the US in a very user friendly airport which has plenty of restaurants and shops to keep you occupied. It is also an extremely convenient airport if you are travelling to New York City with excellent road and rail connections to Manhattan.

        So if you are considering booking a trip to the US then I would suggest you seriously consider Continental Airlines - their ability to offer top notch service on international and domestic flights make them a winner in my opinion.

        www.continental.com/uk

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          16.10.2009 12:42
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          The worst holiday experience I have ever had

          I flew with a friend to Peru and back in August on Continental (via Newark) and we chose Continental because I was on a tight budget and they were the cheapest flights we could find - huge mistake!

          At the time we thought that the gap between the flights was too small to make the connection, but we rang Continental and were assured that 1 hour and 45 minutes was plenty, and like fools, we took them at their word. On the morning of our flight we were upset to find that the flight to Newark had been delayed by an hour, eating into our time to make the connection. We spoke to a Continental representative, who told us not to worry, the delay was 20 minutes, not an hour as the board said, and we would make up the time in the air. And we took her at her word.

          When we boarded we asked again if we would have enough time to make our connection, and were told that we would. The flight eventually took off an hour and 20 minutes late.

          As we got off the flight in Newark we asked a stewardess if it was even worth us trying to make the connection, and were told again that we would make it and not to worry. We got to the baggage carousel and waited and waited and waited....all the luggage marked as being for connecting flights was unloaded last, when it should have been unloaded first. As I'm sure you can guess, we missed our flight by a long way. By this time we were stressed, hot and bothered and upset.

          We made our way to the Continental desk, were given hotel vouchers and food vouchers and were booked in for the flight for the following day. When we complained that we had been told we would make the connection repeatedly by various members of staff, they lady booking us back in told us "They lied to you, as soon as that flight was an hour late, you didn't stand a chance". We were so upset to lose a day of our holiday and the worst bit was that we had got so stressed desperately trying to make that flight, all 3 of us (we had acquired another girl who had also missed the flight) ended up crying at her desk out of sheer frustration.

          The hotel the voucher was for was vile, and overlooked a prison, and the food vouchers weren't enough to cover a meal, so every time we ate we had to supplement them. And when we finally got the flight the next day it took off late too. And both flights home took off late, within 3 weeks we took 4 Continental flights and all 4 took off late - that just about says it all about this company!

          I realise this review is huge so I will write a small summary now and stop, even thought there is a lot more I could say:
          We do understand that planes take off late, and to be honest, we aren't even upset about that, what upsets us is that their staff lied to us on more than occasion, as confirmed by a member of their own staff. And that simple things which could have helped us and everyone else trying to make that connection, like getting our luggage off first, didn't happen.

          And the moral of the story? If you choose to fly Continental think very carefully about how much connection time you have, and if it doesn't seem enough, choose another airline. And don't trust the staff, they will fob you off just so they don't have to deal with your problem.

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            18.09.2009 19:29
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            Continential offers a good example of how customer satisfaction on long-haul flights has diminished.

            Airfare is a necessary evil for those of us who insist on traveling abroad. I love my international travel, and I'll not give it up willingly--not even in these days of high oil prices--though I do wish there were a better and more affordable means to get from here to there.

            MY AIR TRAVEL "DRUTHERS"

            When I travel, it's what happens on the destination end that I value most. To be honest, I hate paying a fortune merely to get "there"--wherever "there" might be. So quite frankly, I look for bargains. I surf the Net, look for special fares, and attempt to save most of my limited resources to spend in the places I'm actually traveling toward. In the past, that's meant some good experiences with the Atlantic crossing and some not-so-good experiences. I'm not particularly happy to report that in providing my transportation back and forth for a trip to Scotland, Continental Airlines managed to align itself more squarely with the latter than the former.

            CHOOSING CONTINENTAL

            Despite my thrifty approach, I consider more than just price when I select a transatlantic flight. In choosing Continental, I considered the itinerary. As published, the itinerary provided two modest layovers in Newark, New Jersey, one each way, for a total one-way travel time of about 8 hours, start to finish. These days, a bargain fare often includes very long layovers, and I had the option of choosing cheaper flights with 10-12 hour layovers in London or Amsterdam. Ten hours in an airport is a long time--a long, numbing time--and not an experience to be freely chosen.

            I then considered available seating. I don't mind occupying a middle seat when traveling with Himself, but if I'm alone, I want an aisle seat. I'd rather get up to accommodate other passengers needing the lavatory than ask them to move. My Continental flight itinerary offered aisle seating for both Atlantic crossings and for the return from Newark. I could live with one short flight (to Newark) in which I likely wouldn't need to disturb my seatmates.

            I also considered how full the plane was when I actually booked my flight. Based on past experience, I've learned that a full flight is more stressful and uncomfortable than one that is partially empty. Choosing a less-than-full flight is not an exact science--any given flight can fill up after your own reservations are made, or a flight cancellation can send a long stream of travelers to occupy what would have been empty seats. Indeed, my careful planning netted me one for two in this regard. My flight eastbound filled to the max at the last minute, but on my flight west, I drew three adjoining seats all to myself. Hence my flight to Glasgow was characterized by the extreme form of New-Age steerage--a packed flight--whereas the flight back was merely steerage with a bit more elbow room.

            CHECK-IN AND BOARDING

            Stateside

            Check-in and boarding were relatively standard--which in these days of e-tickets means increasingly impersonal. Nowadays, even passports can be verified through self-service check-in. "Circuit-rider" agents roam the check-in area to assist passengers having difficulties. Some circuit riders are pleasant and helpful, while others are gruff and lecturing. It's the luck of the draw. You pay your money, and if you need help, you hope for the best.

            Stateside boarding at the Continental gate was not handled efficiently. A wheelchair-bound passenger received too little help in completing his early boarding. The gate agent seemed to lose interest about halfway through the boarding process and stopped announcing seating rows. Passengers proceeded to board at will, no matter where their seats were assigned. In the cabin, this made for more congestion and confusion than need be--and indeed, more than is usual. This was, after all, a full flight.

            A long delay on the return connecting flight was also poorly handled. Despite hours of waiting by some passengers, information was scarce and updates were few and far between. Unfortunately, this sort of gate-area service is all too common, and most passengers just coped.

            UK-side

            Check-in for my flight leaving Glasgow was far more personal than what I've become accustomed to for flights originating in the United States. I was greeted by real people at every turn--a real person to conduct my pre-flight security interview, a real person to check my itinerary and issue my boarding passes, and real people to provide me with updates about delays and to update my itinerary and boarding passes accordingly. So much personal attention!! I've become so accustomed to handling these processes for myself that I wondered if I were suspected of something!

            A long delay before take-off resulted in a familiar sense of frustration in the gate lounge, but boarding was handled far more efficiently than on the Stateside of Continental's pre-flight operation. One just couldn't help but notice that more real people were involved with gate operations than is the norm in the States. Anyone who thinks that personnel cuts don't make a difference in the quality of service isn't paying attention.

            IN-FLIGHT WITH CONTINENTAL

            Service

            I don't know how to say this generously: hospitality extended by flight crews aboard airliners continues to diminish. Each time I fly, it seems a bit worse. There was a time when the service extended by an international flight crew was unmatched for attention to detail--yes, even in economy class. No more. Gone are the relativity good meals. Gone are wine and beer as part of "free" beverage service aboard international flights ($5 per serving now), and even a full container of soda, juice, or water must be requested. Gone are the handy warm towelettes and mints that once appeared at the end of a meal. Gone are most of the beverage services that once occurred regularly and frequently to help passengers keep hydrated. Gone are the small goodie bags filled with amenities to make the long trip more pleasant and comfortable (toothpaste, pen, small note pad, socks, etc.). Indeed, gone is practically everything that once said, "Thank you for your patronage."

            Let me point out that by hospitality, I do not mean courtesy. Flight attendants still adhere to a form of courtesy, although it is now cool and practiced rather that warm and welcoming. In terms of service, it feels a bit like the difference between Wal-Mart and Harvey Nichols. At Wal-Mart, too, customers are often met and greeted as they enter, but just about any personal service provided inside is the result of a special request.

            Indeed, this lack of service and hospitality seems to apply in first class as well as coach. My seatmate on the eastbound flight had an acquaintance in first-class seating who made two or three forays back for quick visits (travel in the opposite direction being prohibited). First class aboard this plane was almost an extension of economy, separated from the rest of the cabin only a curtain. Having paid a substantial number frequent flyer miles for her ticket, she expected more than a larger seat and free booze. She expected service. What she got was a slightly larger seat, a slightly better bad meal, and slightly better cool service--but in her opinion, both the meal and the service failed to live up to economy, much less first-class, expectations. Not only that, she was herded away from her brief visits with her economy-class friend, and was coolly chastened for blocking the aisles. All in all, first class (at least on this flight) was simply "less bad."

            The Aircraft

            My transatlantic flights with Continental were aboard Boeing 757-200 aircraft. Don't get me wrong, this is a large plane, but it is far from a jumbo jet. Seating in coach was configured 3x3, not 2x4x2 or 2x3x2 as was once de rigueur for most international travel. The smaller plane "feels" smaller, and the configuration down a single aisle adds to the sense that one is traveling in steerage. No doubt, it requires less fuel and is therefore cheaper to fly. That's a fair consideration these days.

            Legroom aboard the 757-200 was standard as far as I could tell--suitable for my 5-ft, 5-in frame--but there's no doubt Himself at 6 ft would have had his knees tight against the seat in front. Seats in coach are cramped at best, so these were no more cramped than usual.

            The onboard entertainment system left a good bit to be desired. Small monitors swung down from overhead, with two movies and a selection of CNN and Continental features shown in-flight for each direction. The monitors were too small and too far apart. The movies were current, and there were audio options for English and Spanish, as well as for music. The size and spacing of the monitors meant that viewing for many passengers was difficult. I can't speak for all passengers, but I found the audio (or at least my reception of the audio) to be very poor. As a result, I didn't bother, even though I really would have liked to view (and hear) one of the films. Thank goodness for my backup entertainment-a book of my own selection.

            FINAL THOUGHTS

            The effort required to fly coach at a fare that is truly economical has likely never been more challenging. The price of my off-season tickets has rarely been higher. (Indeed, this was my most expensive ever transatlantic ticket.) But in terms of service, in the true sense of the word--service has never been poorer. There are many reasons for this: the price of oil, the changing face of the airline industry in terms of job satisfactory, security demands, the number of travelers. Why the demographics seem to lend themselves generally toward declining customer satisfaction is no doubt a question that is both complex and still wide open. Nonetheless, as a customer, I can't help but feel that I don't get what I pay for.

            To me there seems something inherently contradictory about overbooked flights, with free tickets and lodging to passengers willing to modify their itineraries, and personnel cutbacks that make customer service more difficult. All these processes were readily observable during my flight with Continental. I can't help wonder why all those smart executives who run the so-called "legacy airlines" can't find ways to increase both passenger and employee satisfaction--and provide a bit more efficiency in the process. One thing I know for sure, continuing cuts in everything but the price of the ticket will not reverse the situation. Moreover, my better experience with Continental based on their UK operations suggests that the overall experience can be, and should be, better.

            CONTACT INFORMATION

            Web Site: http://www.continental.com/

            Toll Free Number: 800-525-0280 (from the United States)

            © LovesTravel/DAnneC/BawBaw

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              12.09.2009 00:49
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              Long haul with no frills

              We flew Continental Airlines, Manchester to Newark, in August this year. It was just a one way flight since we were sailing home from New York.
              We checked in on line 24 hours before the flight and were relieved to get 4 seats next to each other. One of our party was our 2 year old son who was flying for the first time and whilst we might have enjoyed the break, we didn't think our fellow passengers would appreciate having to sit next to him for 8 hours! However, we could not print out our boarding passes - the reason they gave was that it was because we only had one way tickets.
              There were queues at the Continental check in desk at Manchester Airport, but there were plenty of staff on hand, and we were quickly taken care of by an employee, who had his own unique style of asking the usual security questions, which was a welcome change, and then despite our economy class tickets, whooshed us into the far shorter Business Class queue. This, however, did not really speed things up, since the computers were down and all checking in was being done by hand.
              Our 2 year old was doing extremely well during this 20 minute wait, but obviously was now getting a little impatient since he could see all sorts of exciting airport things which he wanted to explore.
              Although slow, everything was going to plan at the check in desk until I lifted our last suitcase onto the scales. We had a 23kg allowance per person and I knew we were under this. However, I hadn't realised that no individual piece of luggage was allowed to exceed this 23 kg limit. Although I had tried to pack all the heavier items in the smaller suitcases, this final case weighed 25kgs. The lady on the desk, who, to put it politely, was not particularly friendly or welcoming told me there would be an excess baggage charge of $80. I was not prepared to pay this, so despite the growing queue behind us, the case was opened up, a few items transfered to one of our other cases, but she had already sent three of our cases down the belt, so having managed to get the case down to 24kg, she agreed to waive the surcharge.
              There was no problem regarding carrying of the buggy to the aircraft. A special tag was issued, it was taken off us as we boarded the aircraft and returned to us as we disembarked.
              The flight boarded at the scheduled time. We were disappointed that it was just a 757. We had been hoping for a larger aircraft with at least a couple of aisles, in order to take my son for a short walk if he got restless. The flight however, was by no means full, and we did actually have a spare seat between the 4 of us.
              There was a slight delay, but nothing too major and I think we took off just 10 minutes late.
              There was plenty of leg room on the plane. Pillows, blankets and headphones were provided and personal TV screens, with touchscreen games. There was plenty of entertainment available............if you were a Harry Potter fan. Pretty much every movie was Harry Potter. Not my scene I'm afraid. There didn't seem to be any dedicated children's channel either. The best we could find for my son was The Simpsons.............not ideal in our opinion, although he seemed to find it all pretty hilarious, even without wearing the headphones.
              The service on the plane was certainly not given with a smile. Frosty would be the best description. Soft drinks and tepid tea and coffee were complimentary. As airline food goes, the offerings were not bad. A beef and a chiken dish, some salad, a typically stale airline bread roll and a rather nice apple and cinammon cake. A turkey roll was served towards the end of the flight and was quite tasty, along with a packet of crisps.
              The flight arrived on time. Shortly before landing, one of the cabin crew came down the plane handing out toy flying wings for the children to wear. Even in this task, not even a smile was cracked and this was actually the first acknowledgement that was given to our son by the crew. We were well prepared with hand luggage packed full of toys, books, stickers and our little boy was an absolute star and behaved brilliantly on his first flight...................but not even a packet of crayons or picture of a plane supplied by Continental. That's poor.
              The flight took off on time, it landed on time, was reasonably comfortable and most importantly, we all arrived safely. Should we ask for anymore?
              In my opinion, on a long haul flight, yes we should.

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                10.06.2009 13:34
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                Would fly again, but would check size of plane

                I have flown with Continental three times, each time was the Manchester to Newark transatlantic flight.

                I have since heard that Continental have had some negative reviews, but with it being an American carrier I didn't really know a lot about them prior to booking so I had no pre-conceived expectations before the flight.

                The first two flights were aboard a 767 which had the seatback televisions, although not the newer touch screen ones with TV on demand. We were given complimentary headphones, a pillow and a blanket which did make the flight quite comfortable. The cabin crew were pleasant and well presented and always seemed available if needed. There was one passenger on our first return flight who needed extra oxygen (not sure what for) but the staff were attentive and professional.

                We had a one meal which was the usual chicken or beef meal, salad, bread roll etc and one snack which was a hot turkey and cheese roll (which I was really happy with because it didn't have butter or margarine spread all over it) and a snack box with crisps and some biscuits. The drinks trolley was brought around two or three times - soft drinks were free and alcoholic drinks were either £5 or $5 depending which currency you preferred to use. Water and orange juice were also brought around several times, probably due to the risk of dehydration on long haul flights.

                The third flight I took with Continental was a little bit different as it was on a much smaller plane, a 757-200. Personally I thought that it was too small given that it was a transatlantic flight. We had the same meal options and drinks as on previous flights, although there were no tv screens in the seats so you had to watch whatever was on the main overhead screens.

                I would fly long haul with Continental again, but I would check that the aircraft is bigger than a 757. I think we paid around £275 to £300 for the flight which overall I felt the service we got was worth the money paid.

                *This review has also been posted on ciao.co.uk under the username tor0908*

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                  22.05.2009 15:43

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                  MAN - EWR - MIA Flew contintental to miami via newark, very pleasant outbound flight across the atlantic. Food was good, entertainment was excellent with a selection for new and older movies. TV programmes such as CSI's and NCIS - I love my amercain cop shows. Was lucky enough to have an empty seat next to me so plently of room. Had to collect my luggage at Newark and take to next gate - unsure why this was ( didn't have to do this on my return flight ). Slept on the return journey to Manchester. Flight attendants were friendly and attentive. Would fly contintental again due to value for money, but prefer British Airways.

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                  26.03.2009 10:43
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                  I'd use them again :-)

                  Having read a few reviews on dooyoo and similar sites where many people have been whole-heartedly unsatisfied with Continental Airlines, I was totally surprised at this, as I couldn't really fault them when I flew with them on a return flight to NYC in January of this year.

                  The check-in was very quick and painless, if a little strict, but we knew to expect this (most flights to USA have stricter check in and immigration stuff to sort out these days we have found!) The counter staff at the check-in desk were polite and friendly and our baggage was boarded (and subsequently collected in NYC) with absolutely no problems.

                  The flight itself was comfortable, and the hostess staff were all extremely polite and courteous with the exception of one older lady who we nicknamed "the dragon". At one point I had to ask a (nice) hostess lady for an extra blanket as I was so cold, and she got it for me immediately, (two in fact), offered to get me a hot drink if I wanted it, and assured me that if there was anything else that I needed I was to call on her. Suitably impressed, I snuggled into my blanket(s) and even managed a nap as I was so comfortable (it is unheard of for me to be able to sleep on planes!!)

                  There was a fantastic range of complimentary soft drinks which were served throughout the duration of the flight... everything from mineral water, herbal tea, fruit juice and cappuccino. You could purchase alcohol if you preferred, but I can't comment on this as we didn't have any.

                  We were served food twice throughout our 8 hour flight. The first time was a main meal (I think it was a sort of curry and rice if I remember correctly) with a side salad (gorgeous dressing), a roll with butter, and a cake thingy. The second time was a snack, which was a kind of hot roll, and a portion of fruit salad. The food was by no means the best meal i've ever had, but I've certainly had a lot worse on other airlines. Also, the meals were included with the flight, and there was no extra charge for them.

                  The in-flight entertainment that we had on board our plane was fantastic! Each seat had a sort of wee tv built into the headrest so that the person sitting behind had a screen to watch. Continental provided each passenger with a pair of complimentary headphones, and we were invited to take these with us when we left the aircraft. The headphones could be plugged into the armrest to allow you to hear the programme or film that was showing on the screen.

                  The wee tv screen was one of those "touch" screens, which made it easy to select what you wanted to listen to (there was lots of radio stations and a selection of music that you could scroll through and select - everything from Pink, to Westlife, to Pavarotti.)

                  If you prefer to watch tv (like me) then there was a brilliant choice of programmes to pick from, some examples that I can remember are (one episode each) Will and Grace, Everybody loves Raymond, and Desperate Housewives. There was also a selection of films to choose from, although I can only remember two of these... Spiderman (with Tobey Maguire) and Toy Story.

                  The TV entertainment also had an option to go into a games menu and had a selection of puzzles and games to keep you amused. Some of the games that I can remember off hand were Suduko and wordsearches, although there were some more junior games to choose from too - ideal if you had young ones traveling with you. (or if you are a big kid like me!!!) :-D

                  Having used lots and lots of different airlines over the years, I have a fair amount of flight experience to compare Continental to. Granted, the staff on our flight were providing a service which is what they are paid to do, but that could also be said for other airlines where I've had to pay for a snack, ask several times for a drink of water, been snapped at by hostess staff, or just had mediocre service as a whole. I can honestly say that none of these flaws were evident on the continental flight (apart from that one "dragony" lady, but lets not tar them all with the same brush eh?)

                  I felt that the airline (and the staff for that matter) catered to our needs and provided us with "better than average" customer service, food, entertainment and comfort. I would have no problem recommending them.

                  All in all, we had a fab flight, it was a great start to our holiday, and I would definitely use Continental again.

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                    10.01.2009 16:54

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                    Ordinary at best

                    During the 2008 calendar year I have visited 20 countries, circumnavigated the world three times, and flown on 9 airlines, 6 full service, and 3 of the budget variety. Recently I flew from London to Florida via Houston, Texas, to join a cruise over Christmas, on Continental Airlines. First (and last) time on Continental. Continental does not seem to know if it is a full service or a budget airline. It served (not sold) meals, yet it charged $5 for a glass of wine (and the hostie didn't have change). Service generally was ordinary at best. On our return transatlantic flight, the entertainment system broke down an hour or so into a 10 hour flight on an apparently very new aircraft - the crew were unable to reboot the system successfully, and acknowledging apology was made.

                    Also Continental appears to be introducing a baggage charge for domestic services within the US - the public's response to this seems to be to take excessive amounts of carry on baggage. The limit is stated to be 10Kg, BUT they appear not be policing this. I saw large numbers of passengers taking two and three large bags aboard clearing exceeding the allowance. This has two effects: later boarding passengers (forward row numbers) are left unable to find room in the overhead lockers for their carry-on bags even if within the limit, and more importantly, this compromises the estimate of weight distribution in the aircraft load characteristics (I have worked in this game in the past). Accurate recording of aircraft weight distribution is critical for aircraft stability both for take off and in-flight trim. I was alarmed by Continental's apparent unsafe practices.

                    Continental fails to match up with its competitors on service or safety, and I will not be using them again.

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                    08.12.2008 16:43

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                    Horrible staff. Not child friendly. They did not move a finger to help me -a mother with an 18 month old trying to install an FAA certified car seat. Very cramped seating. Customer service represantative response when called about this complaint says: "The flight attendants are not required to help you because of liability". What a crappy attitude!I will never fly Conitinental again.

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                    22.07.2008 15:14
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                    Come Fly With Me Lets Fly Lets Fly Away =]

                    As with all airlines and especially in the busy months, check-in was a bit slow. They check-in first and business first classes and then proceed to us economy folks, which didn't bother us in the slightest.

                    We flew from Belfast to Newark to Orlando International and home again costing around £500 each.

                    The great thing about Continental is that when you check your bags at belfast they are checked all the way through to your destination, which saves a lot of time and hassle. All you are left to do at the connecting airport then is grab your bag and move it to the correct location for the next flight, no standing waiting in anymore queues.

                    As soon as we boarded the flight everything was Americanised, the money was in dollars and the staff were all Americans. The welcome on board was very friendly and polite and we were shown to our seats (our first time flying with them).

                    Once seated we discovered that they provide complimentary blankets, pillows and headphones which was greatly appreciated by all.

                    Staff then go through the usual safety checks and they provide a film regarding your safety and they show you all the exits, etc as to be expected on any airline.

                    Another great thing about this airline is that all drinks and meals are included in your ticket price when travelling trans-atlantic, except for alcohol, each alcoholic drink was $5 which really isn't that much for a vodka and coke :) The free drinks were very welcome and the apple juice was so so good (they use minute maid) and you could have a refill whenever you wanted so there was no waiting around for set drinking times. The food was also great not the usual rubbish you normally get on flights. We had yummy chicken with pasta in a tomatoey sauce with vegetables, a side salad, bread roll and some kind of delicious apple and cimmamon bun for desert. Throughout the flight we were provided with all sorts of snacks, including crisps, brownies, m&m's, etc. The only thing we didn't like was the fact that the crisps were always ready salted and since your lips get really dry when flying and no lip balm was allowed on with hand luggage all the salt didn't help matters, but then if you didn't want them you didn't have to eat them.

                    Our flight was delayed a bit for getting into Newark, which we didn't mind at all because instead of the 2 hour wait we should of had at Newark airport we only had like 15 minutes, which was ample time to go to a proper toilet and board our connecting flight. Even though this was a shorter flight we were still provided with lunch, which consisted of ham and cheese rolls, some snakcs and drinks. I have never been fed so much on any airplane in my life. I felt like I had gained a few pounds inflight alone.

                    They were great on selections of food also and you got a choice of at least two (eg, chicken or beef). If you were vegeterian, gluten free or otherwise they checked before serving. They got the people to raise their hands and served them first, therefore no one got left out and no one got the wrong food. I found this to be very considerate.

                    Throughout our flights there were movies available to watch and they were quite up to date. We didn't watch these however as I prefer to read and my other half had his PSP along for the journey. When the films were over they played various sitcoms, I admit I did watch a few of these because they put on King of Queens and I love that show. The only niggle I have with their entertainment is that small TV monitors that pop out and hang off the ceiling and there is one every 3 seats/rows and this can be quite sore on the neck, especially if you are nearly underneath one (thankfully we were far enough back to see one without too much strain).

                    The great thing about a long haul flight is that you get ample time to take loads of pictures from the sky and I managed ro get loads of New York, I even got one of the Statue of Liberty, allbeit way far in the distance, at least I can say I saw it.

                    The toilets in the plane are the usual small little boxes that are on most airplanes, they were however extremely clean and tidy. Another thing I liked is that if you needed to go you were asked politely to wait in your seat until they were free and this helped a lot with not crowding up the aisles, especially when the drinks/food trollies were out.

                    As we flew economy there was not loads of leg room, but of course your seat tips back a bit for more comfort, although I try not to do this because I feel sorry for whoever is behind me, as the person in front of me was quite annoying and was moving hers back and forth a lots, which does not help when you have a tray of food in front of you (the tables are connected to the seat in front), but this was not the airlines fault as they can't control other inconsiderate travellers :)

                    On board everyone is given their visa form thingies to fill out and as it was high security and no one had any writing utensils onboard the staff provided us all with a pen, and even though we had to share this task was completed quickly. If you had any problems or didn't understand what to fill in the staff were very helpful, although most people didn't require this as they do show a short film on how to fill them in beforehand.

                    We did pass through first class when going to our seats and I have to say it loooked comfy comfy comfy. They had big leather recliner seats, each with their own TV screen and all their drinks, including alcohol were free. They also appear to of had a lot of other benefits compared to economy, so if you're rich I would recommend flying in first or business first. They only thing is the price (i checked before we booked). It would of cost us around £2500 EACH to go this way, which is why we stayed in economy (maybe I'll win the lottery some day).

                    Anyway upon landing you are asked to stay in your seat until fully landed and until all doors, etc are opened. To my surprise everyone listened and stayed seated, then all proceeded to take their rows in turn to depart the plane, there wasn't the usual pushing and shoving that you normally get or people screaming let me off, in fact everyone was well mannered and behaved (yes even the small kids).

                    Once in the airport we got through customs quickly enough and our luggage was ready and waiting on the conveyor belt. I only had one problem, there was a small rip on the back of my suitcase, but I understand that this is due to the way they are thrown about, which would happen with any airline regardless of how much cash you pay to fly. This was easily fixed later though with a good old bit of duct tape - which might I add has still lasted and will do me for my trip this year.

                    Ohh, one more thing I must add. Continental are great for baggage allowance, not only are you allowed a 10kg hand luggage bag, you are also allowed to check in an amazing 2 pieces of luggage which can both weigh 23kgs, so all in all you can check in 46kgs worth of goodies per person (it is cheap to buy all them goodies in America after all). Upon arrival for our flight home all four of our bags were overweight, but the nice lady let us open them up and swap some bits and pieces around so only one bag was overweight and this only cost us an extra $25, which is not a lot and I thought this was exceptionally nice of her to say the least. What a great service.

                    I will be returning to Orlando in August of this year and fully plan to use Continental Airlines once again and I would recommend them to anyone who asks. Enjoy your flight if travellig with them.

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                      22.04.2008 10:35

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                      The worst flight of my life - never ever again.Rudest staff, cramped seating, food that was the the worst.I asked for water and was asked if it was a medical emergency and was apparenty going to take off. It took them a couple of hours to sort out their problem - a dinky 757 for cross atlantic flight. NEVER AGAIN! I will stick to better airlines.If I had to give points between 0-10 (i would give it a whopping 0)

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