Since I work for an airline, I thought I would dedicate this page to some travel tips to make your trip a smoother ride! There are lot's of misconceptions about how we operate flights and I would like to enlighten you from an insider's view.
Let's talk about seat assignments for a minute. Always try and get your seats assigned when you make your reservation or at least ahead of your departure time! This is why: As you know, we (all carriers) overbook our flights, and the best way to ensure your seat on board the aircraft is to have a pre assigned seat because when you check in on the day of departure and if the flight is overbooked that obviously means that there are more passengers than there are seats. The last thing that we want to do is deny anyone boarding because there are not enough seats, so what we do is solicit passengers that would like to give up their seat for a later flight (with compensation, of course). We solicit enough to passengers to cover the oversold seats and usually find enough people that are willing to give up their seat. However, there are times that we may not get enough volunteers, and that is where the unassigned seat situation comes into play. Passengers that check in at the airport on the day of departure without pre assigned seats on an overbooked flight cannot get a seat assignment until we see how many volunteers we have. Unfortunately, if we don't have enough volunteers, then whoever checked in last without a pre-assigned seat would be denied boarding! Of course, due to the extreme inconvenience, we would attempt to protect those passengers on the next available flight on us or if necessary, on another carrier. And, we would also compensate the them as well. So the rule of thumb here.....when you make your reservation, ask your agent to assign your seats! If you go through your travel agent, and they are unable, call our reservation center and we would be glad to accommodate. Usually, on the day of departure, the airport claims all the seats so that they have control over the flight, so do it before the day of departure and do it way ahead of time!
I would like to clear up some misconceptions about overbooked flights while we are on that subject! As you know, people make a reservation for a flight and never show up for it....we don't want to go out with empty seats obviously, so there is a department called CRC that solely tracks the show factor as we call it. They adjust each and every flight accordingly. The last thing we want to do is involuntarily bump a passenger off a flight! Continental is very proud of the fact that we have the lowest involuntary bumps in the industry, CRC is very good at what they do!
Baggage allowance is an issue that has become out of control! I'm not kidding when I tell you that I've seen passengers arrive at the airport wanting to carry on a kitchen sink! Our baggage policy is three pieces of checked luggage and 1 carry on item, in addition to your purse or briefcase. That carry on article must be able to fit inside the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you! A kitchen sink would not fit in the overhead and even if it did would be unsafe, it during turbulence, it came out of the overhead compartment and fell on the person next to you, it would more than likely injure them! Please use common sense with this issue! Also, if you are travelling internationally, the rules for baggage allowance can differ from destinations...so please check with reservations ahead of time to save yourself a hassle on your day of departure.
You must check in with an acceptable form of ID when checking in for your flight. It has to be a government issued document i.e.: drivers license with photo, or passport for any international destination, or two other forms of government issued ID if not a photo ID. You would be amazed at the amount of passengers who arrive at the airport with no ID. You would be denied boarding!
Electronic tickets that were introduced a couple of years ago are a God Send to both you as a consumer and our company. It simply means that your ticket stays in the computer the whole time. You are never issued a ticket contrary to belief. This avoids the costly mistake of a lost ticket, if you are one of those unlucky few that have ever lost a ticket, let me assure you that it is a hassle! You would be asked to fill out a lost ticket application for which there is a $70.00 fee, and then if your ticket is found, you would be refunded the fee back..but it is aside from the application fee, it is a major inconvenience.
Check in early! We ask that passengers check in for domestic flights one hour prior to departure. I can't tell you how many passengers arrive at the gate 10 minutes prior to departure furious because we have released their seat. As you may know, we try to accommodate stand-by passengers as well, and in order to get a flight an on time departure, it is necessary to release any seats that have not been checked in so that we may clear the stand-by list. An on time departure means that the aircraft door is shut and it is pushing away from the gate at the departure time. That means that all passengers must be seated in their seats in order to push back from the gate. If we waited for late arriving passengers it would be extremely difficult to achieve an on time departure. If we waited for late checking in passengers it would affect many passengers on board that were making connections to get to their final destination. We don't hold aircraft for this reason. The exception to this would be if if inbound passengers were to miss their connection, we might hold a flight waiting on the arrival of those passengers. This is more likely in a hub city than an out station.
Cancelled flights.....yes it's necessary at times to cancel a flight for such reasons as weather, air traffic control and maintenance problems. But let me assure you that we don't cancel flights due to light passenger loads....this is a fallacy! That aircraft is needed at the next destination that may have a full load of passengers! I hear that statement quite a lot, we are canceling just because we have a light passenger load and it's just not true!
I hope that this information has been useful to you, if you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me and I will try to answer any questions. Jill Woolery
These policies are strictly pertaining to Continental Airlines and are subject to change at any time. This site is in no way associated with Continental Airlines, they are in no way liable for any information given here.