Treated Like Cattle

February 17, 2009

in Delay/Cancellation Stories

Continental Flight 512 (EWR – POP Newark, NJ to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic) 1/22/09

We arrived in Puerto Plata only to circle the airport for about an hour and a half. No updates were given by the crew. Finally the pilot said we were diverting to Santo Domingo airport because the cloud level was too low in Puerto Plata and he was running out of fuel. We taxied to a cargo area to refuel and wait out the storm. We sat on the plane for two hours with no updates from the Captain or any crew member. The crew started to run out of food and water. By this time the passengers were getting restless, having been on the plane for over seven hours (when it was supposed to be a four hour flight). The captain came on and said we could be leaving any moment and that we could not leave the plane.

The captain finally agreed to let us board buses to the terminal so that we could stretch our legs and eat. We got to the Santo Domingo Terminal and were told to stay close by as we could be leaving any moment. I ordered some food. When I came back to the terminal Continental had food laid out for the passengers for free but never mentioned it to anyone. We sat around the terminal for another two hours with no updates. Finally, a Continental employee shouted that the flight was cancelled. So now we are stuck in the airport overnight. The Continental employee made another announcement that Continental would be bussing us to a hotel but we would not be allowed back on the plane to retrieve our items nor would or luggage be taken off the plane. I explained to another Continental employee that I had carry-on still on the plane that had my daily medicine in it. He said to me “Well, that is too bad because you cannot go get it.” After trying to explain to him that I absolutely needed to get my medicine he called me an idiot and said I should have been smarter.

Finally after my fellow passengers complained the man making the announcements said “Fine, I don’t care. We will bring the plane over so you can get the items you left on board but we are not going to take your bags off the plane.” It took Continental an hour and a half to bring the plane over and to let everyone back on the plane. The whole time, the Continental staff were shouting at the passengers. I don’t blame Continental for the weather hold but their handling of the situation was deplorable.

After a lot of arguing, Continental agreed to let us retrieve our luggage so we could have it that night. At this point it is close to 9:30pm local time. We were told to pick up vouchers and meet the buses to take us to the hotel. The Continental staff “forgot” to tell us where to go to do all of these things. Luckily, I ran into airport staff who directed me to the Continental counter to ask. I waited in line with the other four people in my party for another hour to get our hotel vouchers. As I got to the front of the line, I heard another passenger ask about a bus. I asked her if there was a bus to Puerto Plata from Santo Domingo. She stated that she had heard that other passengers had charted a bus and had already left. When I asked the Continental employee at the counter if there was a bus he insisted that there was no bus and that I should just take my hotel voucher and “Go Away.”

As I was standing at the counter another Continental employee said that indeed there was a bus but that it had already left. The employee at the counter said “Well, there is a bus but you would be an idiot to take it.” I asked the employee who had informed us about the bus if he could get us (myself and 20 other passengers) a bus as well. He said he would try. The employee behind the counter, who had told me there was no bus, said that the roads were washed out and that we were all dumb and would get “raped and murdered” and should just go to the hotel. I asked him to stop talking to us because we had heard him and were all adults and were going to do what we wanted to. He then muttered “Bitch” and turned away from me.

The Continental employee who had gone to check on a bus came back and said, we have a bus but you all need to leave now. We all boarded the bus and arrived in Puerto Plata 4 hours later at 3:40am 1/23/2009.

Continental handled this situation completely wrong. Information was not given to passengers and when it was it was wrong. Continental did not let people choose if they wanted to take a bus or stay in a hotel. I had to overhear someone else mention a bus.

On a side note, the people who were taken to the hotel were put back on the plane the next morning only to circle the Puerto Plata airport for two hours before going back to Santo Domingo. They were finally put on buses to Puerto Plata (after being told that buses would be too dangerous). I know this because the rest of my party was on that flight. They did not arrive in Puerto Plata until 8:30pm 1/23/2009 – 35.5 hours after the flight originated.

I cannot understand how Continental can claim to care about its customers but treat them like cattle. Something needs to be done.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

William April 2, 2009 at 10:05 am

You have to be kidding. This is so ridiculous…wow.

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Peter April 2, 2009 at 11:07 am

This sounds like one of those stories where you have to hear both sides to believe it. I don't think any employee would repeatedly call someone "idiot" or "bitch" without provocation.

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Kelly April 2, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Yeah, I'm calling shennanigan's on this story.

NO ONE goes out of their way to be that flat out rude for no reason whatsoever (the Continental employees). Even when they're stressed and aggravated, they still (in the thousands of contacts I've had with airline personnel) at least try to act with a minimum level of decency.

And two separate employees using the same term – "idiot?" This story just does not wash.

Further, I've been to both Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata on several occasions, and the Continental employees were correct – you DO NOT want to travel by charter bus in the DR. The roads are very dangerous, from the high incidence of accidents to roadway robberies.

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Zmomma April 2, 2009 at 12:16 pm

I've witnessed a Continental employee losing his temper and shouting at passenger stranded due to weather delays at EWR so I'm not so sure this story is all shenanigans!

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Earl April 2, 2009 at 12:53 pm

You people are total fucking idiots, really, you expect because you pay your measly fare to be treated like kings and queens, the fare is to get you and your baggage there simple as that

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Donna April 2, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Earl, the fact that they DIDN'T get to their destination via plane speaks volumes. I think you're the fucking idiot.

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Kieran April 2, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Actually I think this is a very believable story after having taken the same flight at the end of February. The Continental staff in Puerto Plata was VERY unfriendly and rude as we got off the plane and quite unhelpful as we boarded the plane at the end of our trip. In addition, when we opened our bags when we got home we found them completely ransacked and I was missing a pair of sunglasses, flip-flops, and my work blackberry. My girlfriend was missing some jewelry. There was NO TSA card in the bags and so the only thing we could surmise was that we'd been robbed. Continental told us that these were items listed on their list of things they don't cover and gave each of us a $150 travel voucher to make up for our loss.

So, yes, I believe this person's story since I've been through the exact same airport.

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andy April 2, 2009 at 2:19 pm

CONTINENTAL- A SCAB airline made

by Frank Lorenzo.. been bankrupt..

at least twice…you get what you..

pay for..a seat and a claim

check for your bag…

So What Was Your Plan-B?????

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Isabel April 2, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Truly a flight from hell, thanks for posting

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Dick April 2, 2009 at 3:52 pm

We obviously have a bunch of airline employee trolls here! Either that, or idiots who have never flown. Either way, DON'T FEED THE TROLLS!!

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Shakti April 3, 2009 at 1:08 am

Wow, some of these people are naive about just how bad it can get. Cont'l personnel were exhausted and didn't know at that point either, I would guess. Because of the economy I'm sure they are running with less personnel, and many of the people in the terminals are temps who could scarcely give a **** what happens to the traveler. I'm in Chicago and forced to use O'Hare and the "new" Midway – I know of what I speak!

What an incredible experience. So bad I laughed.

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kevin April 3, 2009 at 3:39 am

Yall need to smoke some refer before your next flight… makes shit go a lot smoother.

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Anonymous April 3, 2009 at 10:29 am

Kieran

What the hell would possess you to check your Blackberry? Checking valuables is equal to asking to be robbed. You should expect it really. Your own fault.

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Jason April 5, 2009 at 4:25 am

I think there was some stretching of the facts here. I am a platinum member with continental and don't believe that you were called an idiot, or told that it was too bad you could not get your medicine. I find in situations like this, my fellow passengers are the ones that are not listening. They don't hear the announcements. They are all caught up in their own drama, and then are outraged when they think that there in no information.

Part of it comes from not enough experience when traveling. But come on. You were circling for 2 hours and no one said anything? I don't believe all of your story.

You do not have to make a bad story worse by making it more than it was.

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Paul April 8, 2009 at 9:52 am

most of the time, i use a carry on luggage to fit clothings for up to 10 days so i dont have to deal with luggage issues. however, i do noticed from other airlines, when you fly using a USA airline company internationally, i noticed service may be alittle different.

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Cerebral_Origami May 16, 2009 at 9:46 am

The few times I have traveled I ALWAYS take my valuables with me. They have tried to force me to check my bags but after seeing the way they load the plane (On 2 different occasions I watched as the guy lifted the bags over his head and SLAMMED them down on the belt!) and with all the complaints of airport employees stealing from luggage there's no way I'll check my camera, laptop, pda, dive computer, mask (Which has my prescription lenses in it), octopus or meds.

Especially when the airlines refuse to cover such things.

I always love it when they tell me it is too dangerous for me to keep stuff in my lap. Is the airplane really that unsafe?

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Jennifer May 17, 2009 at 7:40 pm

Puerto Plata is staffed by contract personnel, not Continental employees. These contracted agents have no idea about CAL rules of carriage, elites, compensation, etc.

So, when the OP says Continental handled the situation wrong, it is really the Continental contract agents that he/she is talking about. Continental does need to retrain them.

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Joey April 9, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Continental needs to go out of business, United and Delta are way better than them.

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Hannah June 20, 2012 at 10:39 pm

As a COAIR employee, We sincerely apologize for any bad experience you may have had. However, Jennifer is correct in her statements above, and Continental does not staff Puerto Plata. We thank you for your business, and are so excited to show the world what Legacy United can do!

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Kramer January 8, 2017 at 9:45 pm

Loved the vulgar Continental worker. Lol

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