Every cloud has a silver lining!
My particular cloud developed on the last Friday in June. I left SJO at 8 a.m. en route to Toronto for my annual checkup on family and friends in the true north strong and free. My flight arrived on time in Newark, but I learned then that my connecting flight to Toronto had been cancelled.
From 3 p.m. on, we listened to a frustrating barrage of contradictory misinformation, until finally a kind ground person named Norma got me vouchers for accommodation and meals, and a connecting flight to Toronto the next afternoon. I arrived in Toronto almost 24 hours late.
Meanwhile, my friends who were awaiting me had no idea what had happened, and when they called the airline seeking information (Why didn´t his flight arrive?) they were refused any answer.
A few days later I received a routine questionnaire from the airline asking, How was your flight? Did it arrive on time? etc. And I replied to it, spelling out my frustration and listing some of the contradictions. I never received any response to this.
Last month, my African protege (a graduate of United World College in Santa Ana) came down from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, to spend a week with me. After a good visit, we took him to the airport to get the same flight I had taken in June. When he arrived in Newark, he found out that his connecting flight to Portland, Maine, had been cancelled. No reason. No apology. He had to find someone who would drive him to Portland, an eight-hour trip.
I was furious.
If the airline can get away with this they will continue to do it, and worse. Have passengers no rights? Is there no reason for no courtesy? I communicated my fury to you, Mr. Editor, and you had an idea. “Let me put a word in for you” was your suggestion, and I agreed.
A few days later I had a phone call from a senior executive with Continental Airlines in Houston. She empathized with me and was terribly embarrassed about the airlines lack of communication with me, unable to find any excuse for that. She did not argue with me when I opined that Newark was perhaps the worst major airport in the U.S.A.
And a few days later I received by email a certificate entitling me to a discount on any flight I care to take with Continental in the next year.
It is good to know that corporate America can have a human face. It is good to know someone like Jay Brodell, who knows how to make things work. Might even say “God´s in His heaven, all´s right in His world!”