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Miracle Flights!

Author: Sylvia
Date of Trip: August 2007

I took a round-trip via Continental Airlines from NYC (Newark Int’l Airport) to Louisville, KY and back. What was remarkable about the flights during the Labor Day holiday is that they were 100%+ on time! Having traveled a good number of times this year (7 or 8 round trips), this was actually the first absolutely on-time airline experience that I had.

That said, I would like to say how I happened to take Continental this time. In June I took U.S. Air from NYC (LaGuardia) to Louisville. (My family lives there and my other previous trips for years have been on U.S. Air because I can get non-stop from LaGuardia). My son who lives in Japan was with me on this trip in June. We boarded the plane, already it was late, and then sat there for another hour+ while the crew tried to get about 8 people to give up their seats because they said the plane was “overweight.”

With no takers as people understood there was no guarantee about the next flight, U.S. Air had to up the ante’ of their compensation for deplaning, number of free ticket vouchers, then cash, then hotel stay for the night, etc. When that did not work, they started to threaten all the passengers with cancellation of the flight so that no one would reach their destination. They did this repeatedly. Then they turned off the engines and air conditioning because of “mechanical problems.”

Now with the ante’ up and plane trouble, a group of people asked to get off. They stood in the aisle for 10 to 15 minutes or so, while being denied exit. Finally, they returned to their seats and it was announced that we would soon be taking off. When I asked (because no one announced) what had happened with the weight problem the flight attendant told me that they had taken some freight off the plane to decrease the weight. I asked if any of this was our luggage, I was assured that is was not. As far as I could see at arrival baggage claim, this was true.

My son was incredulous and kept saying that nothing like this would ever happen in Japan and that airlines there would be very exacting about booking the right number of passengers and ascertaining before boarding the proper weight for a plane. When I told friends about this experience I was told by others that they, too, had experienced this kind of situation on U.S. Air. Especially they remembered the threats of plane cancellation.

Now this story pales in comparison to some recent airplane delay horror stories, but still was notable enough to me that I looked for a different airline to take my trip this time, along with my other son, his wife and 2 small children, and was pleasantly surprised by the on-time (even early) performance of these non-stop completely full Continental flights that offered no drama. Newark was a little out of the way for us but it was worth the extra effort not to fly U.S. Air.

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