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Dear Continental

To Those Concerned (aka Dead Letter Office)
Continental Airlines
Houston, Texas, USA


I have no way of knowing whether this is the first letter you have received from a protozoon. Although it is possible to infer, from some of your seating arrangements, that you have quietly begun to target microorganisms as a consumer group – but I am getting ahead of myself. I write to relate some of the experiences my partner and I have had during (ahem) a transcontinental flight we booked with your airline.

We chose Continental for this flight after an experience I had with one of your competitors – the one that continually urges its customers to fly in a position that is both compromising and aerodynamically improbable.

With this competitor, I purchased an Economy class ticket, in the mistaken belief that Economy was Economy. I nearly shed my pseudopodia when I got to the gate and discovered that, instead of the three classes of seating to which I have grown accustomed over the years, there were now seventeen, including something called Economy Plus, all of which had some justification to board the aircraft before my mere-Economy self. And that those of us without any such justification would be jammed together in the rear of the plane, denied access to facilities elsewhere in the aircraft, and loaded in such a manner that those few with any whiff of space for their persons (the aisle seats) had not a ghost of a chance of getting space for their carry-ons in any of the overhead lockers. I half expected the air-conditioning to be turned off for our section during the flight, and for us to be served, as our only available food, rotten corned-beef-and-cabbage from a tureen. At $15 a bowlful, of course.

I was relieved to find, on the first leg of the flight we booked with you, that the passengers were divided into First and Economy classes more or less as I have come to expect. I must report, however, that the relief turned into dismay when I discovered that the entire Economy section received the same treatment as the steerage section on your competitor’s airplane.

At least that flight had entertainment, including the usual video drivel (I hope that Mr. Lebron James is paying close attention to the recent travails of his predecessor in the Demigod: Sports department, Mr. Tiger Woods) and the far more compelling spectacle of a passenger collapsing in the aisle on the way to the one, er, designated lavatory.

No entertainment was scheduled for the second leg of our flight, which was delayed due to mechanical problems, leading to a change of gate and aircraft. We were therefore surprised, if not delighted, to be treated to a show by no less than the captain of the plane, which consisted of an Abbott-and-Costello-style mock(?)-argument exchange between the captain and her ground crew. The captain wanted the plane sealed and pushed back from the gate “because she was late”, the ground crew refused for reasons, apart from “new policy”, that we could not hear, a point that should be brought up with the show’s producers.

We must report to you that, if this performance was indeed an act, it was badly executed and in poor taste. If it was not an act, we can only conclude that it resulted from Continental Airlines policies that penalize flight crews for delays over which they have neither control nor responsibility, and thereby put them at odds with the men and women on the tarmac – a violation of one of the cardinal principles of aviation: “Treat your ground crews well – they keep you in the air.”

Until we hear from you about this situation, which we deem of critical importance, we fear that we must add your company, along with the aerodynamically-improbable one, to our own personal no-fly zone, and advocate the same to our readers.

We are sure that, in these troubled economic times, your other competitors in the air, not to mention the various virtual-conferencing providers now in the marketplace, will welcome the additional business.

Sincerely yours, Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba


  1. Ohhhhhhh, this reminds me so much of my last adventure flight to Vancouver. You really do feel like a third class person, if you buy normal Economy. And who can afford anything else…?
    Thanks for the heads up on which airlines to avoid and will keep this in mind next time I book an international flight.

    1. I fear, Betty, that the list of airlines to avoid is getting pretty long. I know which ones to avoid, but not which ones it’s safe to take.

  2. My problem? United has been in my no-fly zone for five years and Continental for maybe 15. It would be just my luck if Southwest started discriminating against fat people or something.
    .-= Doug´s last blog ..Efferous =-.

    1. It says something about the state of the States, Doug, when it’s Southwest that’s pricing itself out of the market …

  3. We paid for Premium seats on our flight to Barbados and we were so glad we did after peering through the curtain and seeing the lack of room the rest of the passengers had! It costs a lot more but it’s worth it if you can manage it. I do think though that airlines pack too many seats into planes purely for profit. There again it’s not as bad as the suggestion from Ryanair that passengers stand up! :0
    .-= Akelamalu´s last blog ..Cruise – Dominica # 7…. =-.

    1. America was founded on the basis of a classless society (no titled nobility), Akelamalu. I think We the People had better start thinking, and thinking hard, about the implications of the expansion of Premium spacing at the expense of steerage. Already, I’ve read, the income gap between wealthy and not is greater in the USofA now than at any time since 1917. Job satisfaction is declining precipitously as employers cut wages (when they don’t cut the jobs entirely), slash benefits, and impose draconian work rules. The social assumptions of My Fair Lady are becoming those of the “Land of the Free”. I’m not happy.

      1. Unfortunately there are people on benefits here that are quite capable of working but are just too damned lazy. There are jobs out there. Neither my husband or I have ever been out of work because basically we have always been willing to do anything to pay our way, no job has ever been too menial. This has meant that we were able to save and are reaping the benefits now. It may not be the same in America but the reluctance to work is certainly a problem here.
        .-= Akelamalu´s last blog ..Cruise – Barbados #8 =-.

        1. I think it safe to say, Akelamalu, that the “culture of welfare” in the USofA is substantially different from that in the UK, and has been ever since the “reforms” of the Clinton Administration. Franklin Roosevelt justified the first comprehensive social welfare programs in America by saying “Americans want to work” and needn’t be penalized for needing temporary assistance from the better off during a Great Depression. To this day, press reports notwithstanding, you’re far more likely to find someone working three minimum-wage jobs to keep he and his afloat than someone skiving off welfare.

          No creature on Earth will work unless it’s absolutely necessary. Among humans, it’s only our social codes that make work beyond immediate food, clothing, and shelter needs absolutely necessary. Such social codes only function properly when all society members have enough respect for themselves and each other to work together. A key component of this respect is the idea that one can actually better one’s station by working. Take that idea away, and replace it with the notion that labor is only to benefit the bosses, and you’ll get people who figure out that it’s not worth their while to bother.

    1. Jinksy, “travel for pleasure” is, in this amoeba’s considered opinion, an oxymoron. Most of my trips are business, and undertaken with increasing reluctance.

  4. Times where passengers were treated like king and queen are long gone ! Even in first class you sit like herrings in a can. When I came back from Greece there was not even food on board, all was sold out ! I had a few peanuts ! The most economic airplane company in Europe called Ryan Air, wanted payable toilets (!) and passengers over a certain weight had to pay for each kg more money. Of course that made a lot of protests and so far they didn’t do it …. yet !
    BTW is your furniture still with Christoph Columbus on the ship ??
    .-= Gattina´s last blog .. =-.

    1. Gattina, I believe the French had something forceful to say about the kind of situation that’s developing now. 1789, wasn’t it? And the corporate executives, the ones who were talking about having people eat cake because there was no bread, ran for their lives then, or lost them, not so?

      And yes, our things are still afloat, but they’re with Cook and Vancouver, not Columbus, who never made it into the Pacific.

  5. We are ripe for a new ‘premium service’ are we not? My neighbor is a Continental pilot. He hasn’t complained about much lately.
    That’s about all the solace I have here, Amoeba.
    Our daughter is in London now. She flew first class, I’ll ask her about her troubles. She didn’t tell of any in e-mails. If that helps you any? 😉
    .-= Jim´s last blog ..A big mess Ruby (Red) Tuesday — Two messes =-.

    1. You might ask your daughter if she’s booked passage back to the US on a freighter, since Lufthansa’s pilots are scheduled to strike Monday, and British Airways flight crews have authorized a strike as well. Throughout the airline industry, moguls are screaming “no profits!”, employees are screaming “We ain’t slave labor!”, and customers are screaming “Service? What service!?!” I recommend that plans for your next vacation (if you’re lucky enough to get one) consist of staying home, building a fire in your fireplace (if you can afford wood), and curling up beside it with a good book (if you can afford a book).

  6. I haven’t flown in two and a half years. The last time I flew though…the plane I was on had absolutely no leg room whatsoever. Being that I’m actually quite small and accommodating to most small areas…this was kind of disturbing.

    1. Polona, I don’t think a St. Bernard would fit in one of today’s economy-class seats either. Great Danes and Russian Wolfhounds, no way.

    1. Well, Karen, you do have somewhat more control of your destiny on the roads than in the air. You’re also far more likely to wind up killed or maimed. Not to mention late.

      1. I’m often late (and it’s hard to blame it on the traffic in the nearby town, population 6,000). While I do enjoy driving most of the time, I also enjoy closing my eyes. We live on the opposite side of the country from where my oldest plans to attend college. It’s a Catch-22.
        .-= kcinnova´s last blog ..Random Dozen: final February edition =-.

  7. Ahhhhh…. I’m so glad I can drive to most anywhere I want to get to … for now. And I have no time-lines in my life, so MY way and the highway are one and the same! I HATE flying!
    .-= Melli´s last blog ..Random Dozen #25 =-.

  8. LOL! Yea…. sometimes. My area of MD is really good about it. DC doesn’t though! DC grows pot holes big enough to eat a bus! Now bridges… that’s another story!
    .-= Melli´s last blog ..Lovely… =-.

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