The rain and fog was bad in SFO yesterday, delaying my US Airways flight from Charlotte for over three hours and causing a misconnect on my way back to PHL. I knew I would miss my connecting flight while still at CLT, so after being kindly rebuffed by US Airways (I fully expected it) I walked over to the United gates where I faced a strategic choice: talk to a United agent or an ex-Con?
I chose to speak to an ex-Con (former Continental agent and readily identifiable by uniform) because I figured she would be more familiar with handling irr/ops in SHARES, the Continental Passenger Service System (PSS) that is now in use for both United and Continental because it is cheaper (no matter what anyone else will tell you). What I did not figure is that she would have the “it’s not possible” Continental-mentality. But she did.
First, she said she couldn’t help me because my first segment was on US Airways. I explained to her this was a UA-issued ticket and she began to type away. I had done my research and there was space on the non-stop flight to Philadelphia the following afternoon, though not any award seats (I had purchased an award ticket to assure first class travel for my uncle). In Apollo in the “good old days” a United agent would have quickly been able to rebook me in full F (though that wasn’t my intention here) on the non-stop the next day.
Her first reaction–“But you’re not going on a non-stop ticket–you are connecting in Chicago. We don’t move people to non-stop flights just because of bad weather. Sorry, I can’t help you.”
Wow. That’s the customer service mentality of pre-merger Continental. I responded, “Well, then book me through Chicago.” She replied, “I can’t.” I said, “What do you mean? You can do whatever you want by typing INVOL.” (which isn’t exactly true, but agent’s do have a great deal of latitude if they know how to work SHARES).
I saw a little grin come across the agent’s face that quickly turned into a scowl as she shook her head and rebooked me through Chicago, on a decent itinerary leaving today at today at noon.
And here’s where I am just speculating, but I am convinced there was some “foul play.” She took a look at me and my bloated, blistered face and already didn’t like me. She didn’t like the fact that I questioned her and called her bluff. She didn’t like having to help me at all it seemed, based on her body language. And so she never “synced” the tickets.
Deliberate or not, by missing that critical step that any Continental agent should have known was necessary, I showed up at SFO this morning and there was no ticket for me. And my flights were now zeroed out.
Then the real hilarity began. But you’ll have to wait till tomorrow to hear about that. Let’s just say I learned a lot about SHARES.