Continental Airlines News

Protect Your Checked Bags From Theft

Posted April 2, 2009 by Nicki Krawczyk

Baggagehandler2 Considering air travelers have to jump through multiple metaphorical hoops to board an airplane nowadays, I think it’s fair to say that most of us expect our checked luggage to receive the same degree of scrutiny and secure transit that we do.

Weeeeeeell, as it turns out, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Recently, a Continental Airlines employee in Houston came forward to announce that she had regularly witnessed her fellow employees stealing items out of travelers’ checked luggage. Apparently, once luggage moves to a loading area, security becomes lax and valuable items are ripe for the plucking.

This news comes on the heels of a theft ring bust involving Delta Airlines contract employees in St. Louis. In this case, baggage handlers had been helping themselves to luggage for more than a year, stealing some 900 items.

The federal loss limits per bag per person are currently set at $3,300, which might cover the value of stolen items but certainly doesn’t make up for the inconvenience and emotional toll of discovering these items missing, filing claims and then waiting for your remuneration. So what can you do to keep your items safer in the first place? Short of booby-trapping your bag (which will definitely backfire on you if a TSA official opens it instead of a sticky-fingered filcher), here are some suggestions:

  • Don’t check valuables in your luggage. It’s a simple rule, but people forget it. Many airlines won’t assume liability for valuables like electronics or jewelry anyway, so you wouldn’t even get to file a claim if they were stolen. As a rule of thumb: If it has great sentimental or monetary value, carry it with you or don’t bring it at all.

  • Ship your valuables. You’ll want to look very carefully at the liability policies of carriers like FedEx, UPS, or DHL, but it may turn out that their highly-insured and carefully monitored shipping systems may be a better route for sending expensive souvenirs back home from a trip.

  • Use a TSA-approved lock. The average little travel lock has been put out of commission by the TSA’s need to inspect your luggage at its discretion, but a TSA recognized lock lets inspectors open your luggage with a master key. Obviously, this can’t completely protect your luggage, but will probably save you from an unzip-and-grab theft.

(Photo: www.abc.net.au)

The Joy of Winter Travel

Posted January 7, 2009 by Carl Unger

ContinentalaircraftinsnoThere's much to love about winter: the soundless cascade of snow outside your window, a weekend of skiing in the mountains, the childlike glee you feel when your office closes early due to weather. But there isn't much to love about winter travel, particularly if you're heading to or departing from a snowy locale. Who among us enjoys lugging a suitcase through ankle-deep slush or waiting in the airport as flights are delayed or canceled altogether? Despite these annoyances, there are some things you can do to make traveling in the winter a less stressful experience.

First, if bad weather is heading your way, check your airline's website (or call) to see if it will waive change fees during the storm. Most airlines will allow you to reschedule for free if weather is going to impact your itinerary (Continental did just this recently). If you're flexible, this will allow you to push off your travels until the storm has passed.

Second, pack wisely and think small, especially if you're heading to a cold-weather destination. Remember: Winter clothes, such as sweaters and heavy coats, are generally big and bulky. Dress in layers, bring warm socks, compress everything, and you may get it all into one suitcase (or even a carry-on!).

Third, arrive at the airport early. Yeah, you may spend an hour or two sitting around, but better to be early in case your flight is canceled or otherwise affected by weather. If you're worried about being bored, bring a book (preferably a long one—Anna Karenina should do the trick).

Winter travel doesn't have to be a nightmare, but let's face it: The chances are pretty good that it will be a nightmare, meaning preparation is key to maintaining your sanity. Take these tips, add a healthy dash of patience into the mix, and you should be OK.

(Photo: NJ.com)

Continental Offers Manhattan Chopper Service For Regular Joes

Posted October 10, 2008 by Nicki Krawczyk

Ushelicopternewyork In my experience, it’s been mostly high-rolling corporate tycoons who have ready access to helicopters. Donald Trump. Steve Jobs. Lex Luthor. But now, to make up for insanely bad cab lines and followed by crazy-long rides, Continental is offering helicopter rides between Newark Liberty International Airport and Manhattan for a mere 45 bucks.

With a major Wall Street meltdown going on and a degree in finance no longer worth the bearer’s weight in gold, there are going to be some big changes in the big cities. Friends, it’s time for the little guy to start living large.

Even before your helicopter ride, plan to take advantage of head-honcho perks as you fly to Newark: All of those first- and and business-class seats that used to be taken up by traders and analysts and fund managers are pretty certain to be open and available. And when no one’s there to fill them, the price is sure to go down; that’s just simple supply and demand. (Thank you, Ben Bernanke.) Heck, if the airline tanks, the FED might have to bail them out, too, and, as a taxpayer, you’ll own those seats! Nice.

So then you’ll land in Newark, saunter over to the helipad, and take your big-shot ride into the Isle of Manhattan. And where are you going to go once you’re there? Forget Midtown, forget SoHo – get yourself down to Wall Street. It’s a ghost town! All of those high-end sushi places and $80-steak joints are going to be giving that stuff away. I’m willing to bet bargaining tactics will get you pretty far, too. As in, “My bill comes to $175. How’s about I give you $26.50?”

The middle class is rising to the top! Which may sound historically familiar, but this is waaaaay better than Communism because you’ll actually get to enjoy the bourgeois benefits instead of decrying them and moving to the tundra to raise potatoes. And stay tuned, because if things stay shaky overseas, there’s bound to be a little class disruption over there, too. Want to take a trip to London? Great, because if things continue as they have, Buckingham Palace might just be available for rent. Pip pip!

How Much Do You Love U.S. Airlines?

Posted September 2, 2008 by Carl Unger

AirplanemodelsNot as much as Chip Ponton. Ponton, a worker in the air cargo industry for two decades, has a collection of over 550 model airplanes in his home, housed in a room with a curved ceiling that invokes an airplane hangar. "Some would call it a sickness," Ponton tells commericalappeal.com, and indeed his passion for air travel is uncommon these days.

Ponton owes his love of flying to a lifelong association with the industry, starting with his father, who worked for Continental, and extending through his own career.

What strikes me most about this guy, however, is his worship of flying. "Most people," he says, "have an awe of flight. Just the fact that you can take a machine that's heavier than air and be somewhere in a couple hours, there's a wonder to flying."

Around here we like to joke and poke fun at the airline industry, but we should all be reminded that air travel really is a pretty amazing thing, no matter how much that fact gets buried in all the fees, crunched seats, and delays. Sure, that stuff is annoying, but perhaps we too easily take for granted that we can travel across the country in five hours, and across vast oceans in under 10. Just sayin'.

(Photo: commercialappeal.com)

Five Major Airlines to Add Ads to Boarding Passes

Posted July 16, 2008 by Zak Patten

Boardingpasscollection If you’ve been living under a rock for the past six months or so, let me be the first to tell you: Because of fuel prices, most U.S. airlines are strapped for cash. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and so we’ve seen an explosion of moneymaking schemes to recoup some of the dollars being sucked up at the fuel pump. Now that fees for frequent flyers and other airline transactions are in place, major U.S. carriers are looking for a new way to turn on the cash hose: advertising.

Continental —along with Delta, Northwest, United, and US Airways—have signed with Sojern, a marketing company that targets travelers, to put advertisements on boarding passes. According to Tim Winship, writing for our sister site SmarterTravel.com, ads are going to play a much bigger role in air travel than they ever have before. Boarding passes are just the beginning.

If you’ve done the Europe-on-a-budget thing lately, you may have had the opportunity to fly Ryanair. If so, you know how the low-cost airline can afford to sell seats for £1—its planes are plastered with ads. As Winship notes, this trend isn’t confined to the other side of the Pond anymore: “US Airways has gone furthest in emulating the Ryanair model, displaying ads on tray tables and on airsick bags.”

In fact, it looks like the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is going to help get the ad train moving down the track by selling space on bins at security lines, while Dallas/Ft. Worth airport will be using its baggage carousels for the same purpose.  I’m no more a fan of advertising than the next consumer (except for this Southwest commercial, which I love), but let’s face it: We’re either going to have to pay a lot more to fly or put up with some in-your-face “messaging.” I’ll take the latter.

How do you feel about this trend? Do you mind ads on your boarding pass? On your baggage carousel? Will you boycott airlines that over-advertise?

(Photo: upgradetravelbetter.com)

Airfarewatchdog Guards Against Confusing Airline Fees

Posted June 22, 2008 by Zak Patten

With new airline fees appearing daily for everything from checked bags to antlers, it can be hard to keep track of who's charging whom what for which. If you think the previous sentence was confusing, try figuring out what you'll pay to check a bag of golf clubs for your next flight to Myrtle Beach. Luckily, our friends over at Airfarewatchdog.com (and we do mean "friends"; see below) have put up two great charts, one detailing checked-bag charges and the other covering those extra airline fees you'll get hit with for changing a ticket, booking by phone, and taking Fido or Fluffy aboard.

AfwdlogoAirfarewatchdog has all of the major U.S. carriers on its checked-bag chart, so you can find out how much that first suitcase will cost you on Delta (nothing) or what you'll be charged by JetBlue  if you're traveling home after the holidays with 75 pounds of your mother's Christmas fruitcake in your checked baggage (an extra $100). There are categories for first, second, additional, and overweight and oversized bags, so you should be all set, unless you like to fly with 11 or more bags. But let's face it, if you're trying to get through Chicago O'Hare with a dozen pieces of luggage, you need much more help than any chart can offer.

The other chart features the same airlines, but lays out the charges for different activities (change fees, phone bookings, unaccompanied minors, taking a pet in the cabin, and selecting seats in advance or in premium-economy service). As Airfarewatchdog notes, Southwest has the lowest and fewest fees—you won't pay a cent to change a ticket if you travel within a year, or if you send your kid to Grandma's house for the summer. Presumably you'll purchase a return ticket for junior, though Southwest is known for its cheap one-ways. At the higher end of the scale are some of the legacy lines, three of which (American, Continental, and US Airways) take $150 for domestic ticket changes. Delta and United each charge 25 bucks for booking by phone, and United wants $30 for in-person reservations. Dog and cat lovers are advised to consider AirTran, which offers the lowest fees ($69) per pet.

With outrageous oil prices, these aren't easy times to be in the airline business, and consequently, it's a bit of a bumpy ride for passengers as well. There's no solace in paying more, but at least these charts keep us informed about how much we'll need to fork over.

(Image: Airfarewatchdog.com)

(Editor's Note: BookingBuddy.com is published by Smarter Travel Media LLC, a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, which also owns Airfarewatchdog.com.)

Update: The latest on airline fees

Continental Airlines and Guam Celebrate 40th Anniversary

Posted March 12, 2008 by SmarterTravel.com

Guambbqweb Continental Airlines lists four airports as its hubs: Newark (EWR), Houston (IAH), Cleveland (CLE), and—drumroll, please—Guam (GUM)!  In fact, Continental just celebrated its 40th anniversary of service to Guam!

To honor the occasion, I thought I'd let you in on some fun travel and tourism tidbits about Guam.  Did you know:

  • The CIA’s 2007 population estimate for Guam was 173,456?
  • That Guam is home to an airport with an unpaved runway (and four with paved ones)?
  • Three decent malls (Micronesia Mall, Guam Premier Outlets, and Agana Shopping Center) are responsible for a large portion of Guam’s tourism and economy?
  • Craigslist is even available in Guam?
  • Flights to Guam represented just 0.03% of all BookingBuddy user searches in February?
  • According to the same data, Las Vegas is the 10th most popular departure airport for flights to Guam?
  • The Guam Bureau of Statistics and Plans, lists “Fish, Chilled, Fresh, Frozen, Dried, and Salted” as the number one commodity for the last half of 2007 to the tun[a] of $12.9 million?
  • The supposed wreckage site of Oceanic Flight 815 from the television series Lost is only a mere 2,514 miles away from Guam? (Lost theorists … GO!)

Okay, that was REALLY random (yet Guamtastic).


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