Tighten your belt on Continental

On Monday, Continental Airlines announced in-flight meals will now be for purchase in economy class. It’s not that folks book flights on airlines for meals; it’s more the lack of customer service and what was considered more of a tradition. While we may not have been crazy about the quality of the meal, there was always something to pick at and break up the otherwise monotony of the flight.

Jim Compton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer offered this explanation. “We are improving our economy meal service with a high quality, industry leading food-for-purchase program that is consistent with the strong brand image and high service standard for which our customers recognize us.” Continental will continue to provide free food service on all intercontinental and long-haul domestic routes over six hours.

How is customer service and the reputation that Continental Airlines vies to uphold with their Customer First Plan affected by this change of policy? Is Continental now admitting that meals previous to the new plan were inferior and unhealthy? Will the continued food service on the intercontinental and long-haul domestic routes over six hours still be reflective of the original menu? The media release has not been well-received by travelers; in fact wouldn’t it have been a more sensible plan to just announce the airline has had to make more cutbacks in order to continue doing business and affording their employees?

Tomorrow the option will be available to buy roomier seats with more leg room. The price will depend on the length of the flight and the popularity of the route. For instance, the charge to sit in the emergency row with an extra 7 inches of leg room could cost as much as $59 each way. Sitting in an emergency row, however requires more responsibility since it is a crucial exit in the remote chance the airplane incurs an emergency landing. Will there then be a discount for a seat that doesn’t recline?

Checking baggage now costs $25 within the US and prices fluctuate depending on the amount of luggage, the class one flies, and the destination.

By the end of the year, Continental plans to deploy DirecTV and internet service. Also, in Business First seats will fold back to offer flat beds. My observation is not to fly economy class; by the time you check your luggage, sit in your seat, stretch your legs, and select an a la carte meal, you might save more money flying business class.

photo credit: Hunter-Desportes

One Response to “Tighten your belt on Continental”

  1. Richard Stevenson said:

    Mar 23, 10 at 9:06 am

    My impression is that Continental already charge premium prices for travel (versus other US airlines), or perhaps it’s that they discount less. Consequently, one did not expect them to follow the others and start nickel-and-diming their passengers. Good quality going bad….

    Somebody should also tell these airlines to stop wasting their money – you cannot even open/use a laptop in an economy seat so why bother installing Internet service?!