Archive for October 19, 2008

Where do I begin and how to restart?

by Loraine Ritchey
This has truly been a year of – another day another emotion-, of feeling helpless, angry, and “waiting” tempered with joy but no peace of mind. So the thought of getting away from all things local and not spending the day in front of a computer feeling obligated to “do something”, disagreeing with friends, watching friends effected by differences in opinions, exposing those that rant at the expense of taxpayers who myther and mystify, to leave treatments to the Dr. – to take a break and go to a place where for just awhile the only people that would surround me were family ( who love and support me no matter my mood or opinion) , where those opinions didn’t count for squat as I was just passing through – was very appealing.

Well it has been six weeks of sewer backups, pontificators, the rip off French connection, expensive lessons, more than I ever wanted to know about trains, planes and boats , fleas bites- tourist traps- and then the “bug” to end all bugs and nearly my mum….and worry.

So I will begin at the beginning with planes and Continental Airlines as they were the start and the end ( almost) of this period of supposed rest and relaxation!

Continental Airlines

Continental ran a non stop service from Cleveland to London, Gatwick, as time went by the service ended earlier and earlier in the year. It was primarily on for the summer months. For those of us making the trip to London it was great, although the plane seating was cramped the fact that you didn’t have to change planes and the rigmarole that all involved meant you put up with the conditions.

Gatwick Airport is not for the out of shape or over the hill , the gate was one mile from baggage claim-

there are areas with moving sidewalks which hurry you along to stand in line ( for those with non EU passports to wait for over an hour on occasion( especially with a number of international flights coming in in the morning hours) to go through passport control .


By the time you get your luggage you are shattered, luckily the UK “customs clearance” is much better than the US clearance.

Unfortunately , BP pulled out of Cleveland and Continental was facing their own problems. But they were still running non stop in September to London this year, only they pulled back even earlier which meant the return journey entailed a stop in Newark-New Jersey

As uncomfortable as the Cleveland to London flight was it was nothing compared to the trip back. I wondered why it was taking nearly 9 hours to fly from London to Newark when the “farther away” Cleveland flight took an hour less until I looked at the “speed” we were doing- Could it be that in order to save fuel the airlines are “slowing” down making the journey that much longer? HMMMM seems so

“Fliers, already beleaguered by higher fares, more delays and long security lines, may not even notice the extra minutes. The extra flight time is added to published flight schedules or absorbed into the extra time already built into schedules for taxiing and traffic delays.”


And why when I looked at the ticket why was an hour flight from Newark to Cleveland having a “flight time” of 1 hour and 54 minutes on the information? Well it seems that at Newark you literally sit on the runway for 40 to 50 minutes before takeoff so that time is now calculated into your “flight time”. We sat longer on the runway than we did in the air. One reason alone to stay away from Newark….
The London- Cleveland flight would get us in at 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon coming through Newark we arrived at 9:45 p.m. which added another 6 hours to our already lengthy journey. By the time we got home we had been travelling for nearly 24 hours.

No thank you Continental never again will I traverse your Newark hub-!

When you arrive at Newark ( in one concourse) the fun begins, you are pushed through lines of people all worrying and sweating with their bags to “baggage claim” where you man handle your bags through to the customs, your passports and questionaires looked at – then your bags scanned by customs .

Oh! and you better be quick because the conveyor belt doesn’t stop for anyone so luggage spills onto the floor. Then it is time to find the place ( along with other frustrated and tired passengers) to send your luggage through to the next flight and concourse.

BEWARE the luggage is rescreened and you had better have re packed your “duty free” booze that you purchased on board or in “Gatwick’s secure lounge” into your checked bags before they are sent on -because signed for sealed and delivered doesn’t count – they take your Scotch from you if you have a connecting flight …… no wonder they are smiling

I am sure they don’t throw it away!

Then comes the “train” to the next concourse -down flights of stairs -up flights of stairs, and don’t go by the tickets or boarding passes for the gate ..these things are subject to change at a moments notice…….

But above all “don’t complain, don’t moan and don’t get angry” I have learned that the “muppets” have power the power to decide whether you fly or not….

If you’ve ever wanted to end a complaint letter — or phone call, for that matter — with the words “I’LL NEVER FLY YOUR AIRLINE AGAIN!” or “I’LL SEE YOU IN COURT!” then let me offer a little advice. Don’t. Threats won’t just guarantee your failure. You could also end up on a company’s blacklist (oh yes, they have them)

8 reasons your travel complaint is being ignored by Christopher Elliott-Tribune Media Services

and they do it with a smile!

October 19, 2008 at 10:29 pm 9 comments



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October 2008