“It seems like these airlines do not care about their customers”

When Seth Kunis booked a Thanksgiving flight on Continental Airlines, it included a snack. It’s a small thing, he admits. But when Continental changed its onboard food program, he felt the airline had reneged on a deal.

I’m sure that some of you reading this will agree with Kunis about this being a small thing. What’s a little snack in the grand scheme of things?

The problem is that for airlines, this has been a pattern of behavior during the a la carte revolution: They take something that was once included in the price of the ticket, unbundle it from the fare, but leave the price unchanged.

The government took steps to stop airlines from imposing their new luggage fees on old tickets a few years ago. But it doesn’t normally get involved in minor issues, like those involving airline meals.

So Kunis decided to let Continental know he was unhappy.

“I honestly don’t know what else to do,” he told me. “It seems like these airlines do not care about their customers and they may have lost a lifelong customer.”

Here’s his first note to the airline:

I booked a flight in coach in January 2010 for travel over the Thanksgiving weekend. That flight included a snack in the fare.

With Continental switching to paid meals after October 12th how will my flight be handled? Do I lose the snack that I paid for?

Here’s the airline’s response:

Thank you for contacting Continental Airlines.

I understand you had some concerns about our new meal policy. Our traditional free-food model, which served us well for many years, has been updated to reflect today’s market and customer preferences.

Meals are a complimentary amenity that Continental Airlines traditionally supplied to our customers. To ensure profitability in a competitive industry, we could no longer offer complimentary meals when competitors were charging for meals or not serving meals at all. Research indicated that economy travelers do not select their airline based on the meal service.

We will continue offering complimentary meals for most international flights and BusinessFirst and First Class customers. Most other flights will have food for sale onboard. Food choices will vary by flight. Shorter flights may have snacks, such as candy bars, cookies, chips, and trail mix, while longer flights may offer salads, sandwiches, or wraps.

Please remember, we now have cashless cabins, so credit or debit cards are required for purchasing products and services onboard our planes.

Customers with special dietary requirements may be interested in visiting airport vendors or bringing food items from home.

We appreciate your business and look forward to welcoming you onboard your next Continental Airlines flight.

Huh? Did they even bother to read his first email?

So he tried again.

Can you please verify if the flight I booked in January 2010 (for flight in November 2010) under confirmation number [redacted] includes a free food service? I booked this flight in January 2010 and at that time there was a meal service included with the flight.

I have called and spoken to two people at Continental and neither of them could give me a definitive answer.

If however, Continental has decided to remove this option from my already paid fare, that included a meal, I am requesting four meal vouchers. One for each leg of mine and my wife’s flights in November.

I think this is a reasonable request. But not to Continental.

Thank you for contacting Continental Airlines.

Beginning October 21, 2010, the new food-for-purchase menu will replace the complimentary meals and snacks currently served in the economy cabin on the select routes. Continental will continue to offer complimentary food in the economy cabin on all intercontinental and certain other international routes, and on long-haul domestic routes over six and a half hours. Continental will also continue complimentary food service in the front cabin (first class and BusinessFirst) on routes worldwide.

I respectfully decline your request for complimentary meal vouchers as this circumstance is not one for which we would normally compensate.

We appreciate your e-mail and look forward to welcoming you aboard your upcoming Continental Airlines flight.

That didn’t sit well with Kunis.

I respectfully disagree with your assessment of the situation. I am a long time customer of Continental and have always chosen your airline because of the excellent customer service and added amenities. However, I purchased two airline tickets that were advertised (I have the original confirmation to prove this) to come with a meal. To remove this and not offer to compensate me for this is not acceptable.

I again am asking for either meal vouchers for these flights or equal compensation.

I further request this complaint be escalated to a higher level so it gets the proper attention it deserves.

Fortunately, he had a few contacts in Continental’s executive office. I heard from him a few days later.

I actually did and after pushing and prodding I finally got somewhere with the president’s office. They ended up giving my wife and I each a $50 American Express gift card to pay for food prior to getting on the flight.

If it wasn’t for all the articles of yours that I read I would have never been able to get this resolved.

I’m not sure if snacks will cost the couple $100, but it’s a nice gesture by Continental. I’m glad someone finally took the time to listen to him.

Underwritten by

Underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Underwritten by Enterprise

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

Underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

Underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Underwritten by Sungard Availability Services

Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Sungard AS designs, builds and runs critical IT services that help businesses manage complex IT, adapt quickly and build resiliency and availability. A leading provider of critical production and recovery services, Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe, delivering resilient IT systems, infrastructure and recovery services tailored to achieving desired business outcomes.

Underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

%d bloggers like this:
This free newsletter will save you from scams.