Entries in Continental Airlines (9)


Virginia Couple Says Continental Workers Targeted, Humiliated Them With Sex Toy

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NORFOLK, Va.) -- A Virginia couple is suing Continental Airlines and United Continental Holdings, claiming they discovered at baggage claim a sex toy workers had taped to their luggage.

On May 21, 2011, realtor Christopher Bridgeman, 34, and Martin Borger, 35, an architect, returned from a vacation from Costa Rica to Norfolk, Va. When the couple arrived in Houston on a layover, they retrieved their checked luggage, "which was undisturbed at that time," according to the suit filed against United Continental Holdings and Continental Airlines with the Harris County district court in Virginia on Friday.

The couple went through customs, then rechecked their bags before boarding their flight to Norfolk with Continental, which was merged with United Airlines in 2010 to form United Continental Holdings. After arriving in Virginia, they went to the baggage claim.

"Plaintiffs' bags were sent to the baggage carousel where Plaintiffs discovered, to their horror, that a private sex toy had been removed from one of their bags, covered in a greasy foul-smelling substance, and taped prominently to the top of their bag," the suit states.

The suit says the couple "experienced extreme shock and horror when they observed the above-described bag and when observing the surprised and/or laughing faces of numerous onlookers in the baggage claim area."

The couple "were experiencing such a high degree of shock and embarrassment that they felt compelled to call two friends to come to the airport to assist them," but by the time the friends arrived, "the damage had already been done, and the Plaintiffs had suffered severe emotional trauma," the suit states.

The filing states "because of the fact that the sex toy was contained in the bag of a male, and because the employee(s) responsible knew that the bag belonged to a male due to the name tag attached to the bag and the male clothing contained in the bag, there is a high likelihood that these egregious acts were directed towards Plaintiffs because they are homosexuals and because they are male."

A spokeswoman for United Continental told ABC News, "United does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. After conducting a thorough investigation, we determined that there is no support for this allegation. Nonetheless, we offered these valued customers a gesture of goodwill which they declined. We will vigorously defend ourselves and our employees."

"We believe that every person – no matter their age, race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation – has a right to privacy and should be treated with dignity and respect," Harry Scarborough, an attorney in Houston for the couple, said in a statement to ABC News. "Sadly, in this instance, United Continental clearly did not share that belief and instead chose to humiliate Christopher and Martin by crudely exposing a very personal and private item."

The couple is suing for an unspecified amount in damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, negligence, and mental anguish, among other causes.

The alleged incident follows reports of theft and smuggling by baggage handlers at other airports and airlines.

"If the allegation is true, this is obviously just another example in a long history of baggage handler or TSA malfeasance," said George Hobica, president of, a discount airfare compiler. "The embarrassment and humiliation this caused must have been very painful and if the charges can be substantiated then the couple has every right to sue."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


‘Smoking Gun’ Colgan Air Emails Released in 2009 Buffalo Plane Crash

Aaron M. Sprecher/Bloomberg via Getty Images(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- A lawyer representing families of the victims of the crash of flight 3407, which plunged into a home near Buffalo, N.Y., in February 2009, has released an internal Colgan Air email chain which, he says, shows that the pilot was not qualified to fly the type of plane that crashed.

The “smoking gun” emails -- which appear to support the plaintiffs’ contention that the airline failed to properly train the pilot -- had been discussed in court earlier this month but had been, until Friday, confidential.

The emails cover a period in late August  2008 -- about six months before the crash -- and indicate that the pilot, 47-year- old Marvin Renslow, “had a problem upgrading.”

As a result, Colgan’s VP of flight operations wrote that “anyone that does not meet the [minimums] and had problems in training before is not ready to tackle the Q,” a reference to the Bombardier DHC8-402 Q400.

The airline’s chief pilot then responded, “He is already off the list.”

According to plaintiffs’ lawyer Hugh M. Russ III, Renslow was promoted about a month later without additional experience or training that would have made him qualified. Russ calls the email chain “a devastating admission on the part of Colgan” and says it shows that “Colgan chose profits over safety” in electing to promote Renslow “even though they knew he was not qualified.”

Airline spokesman Joe Williams disputed that, saying in a statement to ABC News that Renslow subsequently completed additional testing  "without any training deficiencies or problems noted.” As a result, the statement says, "Capt. Renslow was properly trained, certified and qualified to act as Pilot-In-Command of a Q400 aircraft.”

The spokesman did not immediately respond to a request from ABC News for documentation to support its statement.

The plaintiffs’ attorney said he had yet to see any evidence that Renslow was given further training and experience on the Q-400 before the crash.

Continental Connection Flight 3407 from Newark to Buffalo, operated by Colgan Air, crashed into a home in the Buffalo suburb of Clarence Center, about five miles short of the runway. The accident killed 49 passengers on the plane, including the crew, and one person in the house. An NTSB investigation found that pilot error was the primary cause of the crash.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Which Airline Reigned Supreme In 2010?

John Foxx/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- AirTran topped the list of last year’s leading airlines, according to a leading annual ranking.

The Airline Quality Rating, released Monday by teams at Wichita State University and Purdue University, ranks airline performance in four major areas: on-time performance, baggage handling, customer complaints and involuntary denied boardings. The industry, the report says, improved in three of those four areas; customer complaints was the only area where performance declined.

This year’s scores were the third best since the researchers behind the report began tracking airline performance 20 years ago.

Among the highlights:

  • Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time performance in 2010; Comair had the worst.
  • AirTran boasted the best baggage handling rate; American Eagles had the worst.
  • Southwest Airlines had the lowest consumer complaint rate; Delta had the highest of those rated.

Here is this year's numerical ranking of the nation's leading 16 airlines, according to the Airline Quality Rating, with last year's ranking in parentheses:

  1. AirTran (2)
  2. Hawaiian (1)
  3. JetBlue (3)
  4. Alaska (11)
  5. Southwest (5)
  6. US Airways (8)
  7. Delta (15)
  8. Continental (6)
  9. Frontier (7)
  10. SkyWest (14)
  11. American (9)
  12. United (13)
  13. Mesa (12)
  14. Comair (16)
  15. Atlantic Southeast (17)
  16. American Eagle (18)

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Airfares on the Rise...Again

Photo Courtesy - Matthew Peyton/Getty Images(DALLAS) -- You've seen gasoline prices skyrocket in the last couple of days and so have the airlines. 

Instability in oil-producing countries is driving up the cost of jet fuel and, as a result, airfares.  American Airlines led the pack on Monday with a $20 hike in business class tickets.  United, Continental and US Airways quickly followed suit.  Now Delta, the last holdout, has joined in, and the fare hikes are likely to stick. 

Many travelers hope with the warm weather of the summer comes lighter fares.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Airlines Impose Fuel Surcharges

Photo Courtesy - United Continental Holdings(NEW YORK) -- Some major airlines are imposing fuel surcharges as the cost of oil rises on global markets. Oil is close to a two-year high and, as a result, airlines are adjusting their rates.

JetBlue has added 35 dollars each way to its Puerto Rico flights plus a 45 dollar fuel surcharge for other destinations in the Caribbean. 

American Airlines, Continental, United and Delta are adding fees on domestic flights, but its not clear if all of them will stick. 

Southwest has not said if it will add fuel fees, but many fares have been going up in recent months.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Airlines Raise Fare Prices Amid Snowstorm, Rising Oil Costs

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As thousands of passengers were left stranded at airports along the East Coast during one of the worst travel disturbances of the year, United, Continental, American and Delta Airlines all raised ticket prices Monday, according to

According to the fare watcher website, United Airlines and Continental Airlines both added a $10 one-way ($20 roundtrip) "peak travel day" surcharge for many of their domestic flights for all future travel dates. 

Hours later American Airlines, added a $20 roundtrip airfare hike for much of its domestic route system.  Delta Airlines followed soon after.

FareCompare attributed the sudden increase in ticket prices to rising oil costs.  Monday marked a 26-month high for oil prices, consequently affecting jet fuel costs.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Continental Airlines Introduces New Fee to Hold Airfare

Photo Courtesy - United Continental Airlines(NEW YORK) -- It looks like the airline industry has found a new fee to squeeze some extra cash out of the flying public: the rate lock fee. Continental Airlines on Monday afternoon announced "FareLock," a new service which allows passengers to pay fees starting at $5, and rising to $9 or more, to hold a seat at a given price as a hedge against rising airfare. The price can vary depending on the itinerary and other factors.

Continental, which merged with United Airlines but is still operating as a separate airline, is the first carrier to offer such a service but, as with baggage fees, expect the rest of the industry to soon follow Continental's lead.

Continental, Delta, United and other airlines currently allow customers to get a full refund on any ticket within 24 hours of purchase. Some travelers take advantage of the system by booking, canceling the next day and then rebooking to ensure the best fare. American Airlines currently allows customers to hold a ticket -- and the fare -- for 24 hours for free.

Continental said that, for now, it won't abandon its 24-hour cancellation policy and that its new FareLock just gives travelers more options and more time to decide.

Customers may choose FareLock when booking reservations at and opt for a 72-hour or a seven-day hold. They may return to complete the transaction at any time between purchasing the lock and its expiration, or they may choose an auto-ticketing feature which tickets at the end of the lock period, the company said. FareLock fees, beginning at $5 for a 72-hour hold and $9 for a seven-day hold, will vary based on a number of factors such as the itinerary, number of days to departure and the length of the hold. While tickets can still be canceled with 24 hours, the FareLock fee is non-refundable.

Fees are big business for the airlines. The Department of Transportation on Monday revealed that Delta Air Lines collected the most fees of any of the U.S. carriers, hauling in $1.26 billion in fees so far this year, Neidl noted. United/Continental was second with $922 million followed by $784 million collected by American. Neidl said that even though Southwest does not charge for the first two checked bags, it still collected $22.5 million in fees for third bags and overweight bags.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


United Continental Holdings Announces Close of Merger

Photo Courtesy -- United Continental Holdings, Inc.(CHICAGO) -- United Continental Holdings, Inc., formerly UAL Corporation announced Friday that both Continental Airlines and United Air Lines, Inc. are now wholly owned subsidiaries of United Continental Holdings, Inc. 

Common stock of United Continental Holdings began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday under the symbol UAL.

Jeff Smisek, who will serve as president and chief executive officer said, "We are delighted to announce the successful completion of this merger. With great people, an unparalleled global network, the best new aircraft order book among U.S. network carriers and a commitment to superior products and services, United is well positioned for a bright future."

United expects the merger to deliver $1 billion to $1.2 billion in net annual synergies by 2013, including between $800 million and $900 million of incremental annual revenue.

Although "Continental and United, operating under United Continental Holdings, Inc., will immediately begin the work to fully integrate the two companies," customers shouldn't expect to see a more seamless union until early to mid 2011.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Continental Eliminates Complimentary Food Options

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Continental Airlines will no longer offer complimentary food options on the majority of domestic flights, the airline announced Monday.  Instead, the airline will provide a revamped menu of what it calls high-quality, healthy choices.

"The new food-for-purchase menu will replace the complimentary meals and snacks currently served in the economy cabin on the select routes," the company said in a statement. "Continental will continue to offer complimentary food in the economy cabin on all intercontinental and certain other international routes."

The airline said it will continue to offer free options to passengers traveling first-class and to all travelers of domestic flights longer than six-and-a-half hours. Non-alcoholic drinks will remain complimentary.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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