Continental

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Has anyone had any luck at getting Continental to not serve peanuts on a flight? When I flew with them several years ago they did, but I just got stonewalled on the phone today with the same request for 2 flights this summer. I've drafted a letter to them, but I'm not sure it will do anything except vent my frustration. I am peanut allergic and had a minor reaction on a flight several years ago - not something I want to go through again, esp. on a plane. I appreciate any advice anyone may have. Thanks.

On Apr 13, 2001

Check the other Contential threads here but I'm afraid we all seem to have struck out with this airline (they changed their no pn policy in early 1999 and at that time they would only honor requests for no pn for flights booked before a certain date).

Since then they have treated any requests with a beligerent attitude. I have started a thread in the "TAKE ACTION" forum to try and get this changed. Good luck with your flight.

On Apr 19, 2001

We just returned from a round trip Continental flight and they were very accommodating. We are frequent fliers of their airline, but I would hope this was not the reason for the helpfulness. When we make our reservations, we explain that we'd like to request a peanut free flight for our young allergic son. We usually hear their speech that they cannont guarantee a "peanut-free flight as they cannot control what other passengers bring on to the aircraft." We say fine, but please make it a pretzel only flight. The day of the flight, we call to confirm that the request is in the computer. At the gate (this is Key) we speak directly with the gate attendants who are really the people who complete the request. This past weekend, we even had a flight attendant ask 3 different passengers to please put away their personal snack which contained peanuts...they were fortunately all agreeable. As I said, the flight attendants/gate personnel are truly the key. Any flak we have received was usually from the reservationist who is totally removed from the situation. Hope this helps.

On Apr 25, 2001

pentecost-Do you have any information on who you talked to, what department, or advice on how to get to the right person? I talked to two people on the phone today, one who was pretty matter of fact, and one who was quite pleasant, but both told me it was not possible to request a flight where they would not serve peanuts. The pleasant one said that some flights serve peanuts and some serve pretzels, but they cannot know ahead of time which will be served. I got tickets on Continental because it was the only one with a direct flight CA to OH, the cheapest, and the best times, and my son has never had a reaction on a plane. But I am a little nervous and would like to keep trying to get him a no peanut flight. thanks

On Apr 26, 2001

Yeah. I'm glad you had a good experience with Continental, but they do not have a cohesive policy. More than once, their customer service dept. has told me that pa is an illness and I cannot fly until I am well again (I've often wondered if they say the same to the wheelchair-bound!) You're greatest hope is the flight crew; they are the ones who will be faced with the emergency if it occurs. Good luck with your flight.

On Apr 27, 2001

Any advice for dealing with Continental? I seem to be at a deadend. I emailed customer care and got an out of the policy manual I'm sure answer, "Our dinning service department cannot assure that the flight will be peanut free." I explained that I wasn't as worried about peanut products in the served food or peanut products brought on board by the other passengers, but asked if our flight could be a pretzel flight since they serve pretzels instead of peanuts on some of their flights. It took three days for them to respond to my first email, so who know when if ever I will receive a response to this one. I'm sure I know what it will say anyway. I suppose since consensus here seems to be that Continental won't remove peanuts, I should give up, but Pentecost has given me hope.

On Apr 28, 2001

All else failing, talk to the flight crew... Go early & tell them at the gate, board early and tell them as you board. Friendly but firm. This works some of the time on short flights. It depends on the crew. I flew Continental fairly regularly for a brief time in late 1999 (commuting between Boston & NY w/o a car) because it was a 45min flight and they were the only airline to fly that route. They were always accommodating leaving Logan; 50-50 shot out of Newark. It's worth a try.

Of course, I recently had one mild reaction on a "peanut-free" flight & I may never fly again, but in terms of peanut policy, Continental is the WORST. I'm glad somebody had a good experience; that's hopeful. Do the best you can (but I would choose another airline in the future.)

Have a safe trip! I'll think good thoughts.

On May 16, 2001

I changed our flight to an early morning flight. I had thought of this earlier, but two different Continental agents told me they could not guarantee that even an early morning flight would not serve peanuts. However,one of the two people I emailed in Customer Care emailed me that she had checked with the director of dining services who assured her that peanuts are not stocked on flights before 10am. Out of the probably dozen Continental people I had spoken/emailed with, finally one made an effort to help me. Then they allowed me to switch my flight without paying. So, even though Continental is at the bottom of my airline list (every other airline I called-American, Delta, USAir, Southwest, America West, TWA- were all willing to remove peanuts from my flight), at least a couple of Continental people helped us get on a plane that is not serving peanuts. Now if they serve peanuts on that plane, after all the time I have spent on this I will probably go berserk. Sillyfeline-thanks for your thoughts

On May 16, 2001

We have flown Continental with success. I had also tried reserving a peanut free flight and met the same silliness. However, I have learned that asking the gate attendants and then checking again with the flight attendants as we board has helped. They even took boxes of peanuts off the plane for me. And booking early morning flights is a real help. We have never been on one where they served nuts, only breakfast (which my son doesn't eat-we pack his own). Good Luck to you! (We are flying again in July - keeping fingers crossed!)

On Jun 13, 2001

Okay people. I flew Continental from El Paso to Pittsburgh, via Houston, with my sons (the 5 1/2 yr old is PA). No, the people on the phone were not very nice and of course they could not guarantee my child's safety. HOWEVER we brought our own food, Benadryl, Epi-pen, and surgical masks in two styles. The folks at the gate were more than understanding and helpful, but unfortunately there were only peanuts loaded that day. Alec wore his mask and had a slight reaction --- "itchies" around one eye --- but nothing more. On our return flight we were just as prepared, and they served pretzels at our request. No mask, and no problems. CHEERS to the folks at the gate who literally ran to alert the flight crew about Alec's allergy. CHEERS to the flight crews who were so kind to us on every leg of our flight. And praising God for a safe trip all around! *A word of caution: the pretzels served were processed by a nut company, so I wouldn't chance it.

[This message has been edited by RitchiesGirl (edited June 14, 2001).]

On Jul 13, 2001

Thanks to everybody's advice in this topic. I flew from Newark to San Diego and back last week on Continental. As everyone has said, calling and asking them is useless and frustrating. After checking in at Newark, I pleaded with the gate agents about the situation, and after being persistent about the situation, they replaced the peanuts on the plane with pretzels (from King Nut Co. - beware...). However, on the way back from San Diego, they claimed not to be able to do anything at the gate because the airport is not a Continental hub, as Newark is. Luckily, there were not going to be peanuts served anyway. I've read advice about how there are less likely to be peanuts on a morning flight - my flight out of Newark was in the morning and would have served nuts if not for my request, while my flight from San Diego was afternoon and was not serving nuts.

On Aug 14, 2001

Help! I have had the same frustrating phone conversation (we cannot promise a no peanut flight) with the Continental reservation line. We are leaving tomorrow on an afternoon flight to Denver-will be on the plane for 3 hours. I couldn't sleep last night. UGH I had no idea that this request was that difficult. No peanuts-what's the big deal? My child's life! Any suggestions? I even spoke with my friend's husband who is a pilot for Continental. and he said that a lot of times the flight is already catered when we get to the gate and there could be peanuts on it. He had no ideas of who to talk with. I am about ready to spend an extra $200.00 penalty and change my flight to Northwest.

On Aug 20, 2001

We flew Continental LAX to Cleveland. When we checked in I was told that a morning flight that served breakfast usually doesn't serve peanuts, however, if it is a long flight, a second beverage service is offered and peanuts may be offered at that time. Our flight was long enough for a second beverage service. The people at the gate and on the plane were actually very friendly and helpful. The gate attendant at LAX alerted the director? (I forgot her title) of the flight. She came and talked to me and told me that even though there were peanuts on the plane, they would offer only pretzels with the beverage service. However, she said that if someone specifically asked for peanuts they could not deny that person peanuts because that is Continental's policy. I did not hear anyone ask for peanuts on the plane. At Cleveland the gate attendant said she would alert the flight crew. The steward on the plane told me that when they were alerted they took the peanuts off the plane. Only pretzels were served. He did warn me that although this was what his flight crew would do, he could not guarantee that all flight crews would be willing to remove the peanuts since this is not Continental's policy. I know people here have said this before, but let's write Mr. Gordon Bethune, CEO of Continental and let him know his policy stinks. They say that since they cannot guarantee a totally peanut-free flight, (a passenger could bring his own peanut product or something in the meal could have a risk of cross-contamination) they might as well serve peanuts. That is such a cop out! Gordon Bethune Chairman and CEO Continental Airlines Customer Care

On Nov 1, 2001

We won't be flying Continental again. This is the note I sent to their "Customer Care" department (wish I could express myself as well as some of you out there...) ....................................... My family and I recently used your airline to travel to and from our vacation destination (flight 1571 at 12:45pm on 10/21/01 and flight 1804 at 2:20pm on 10/27/01). The decision to fly is never an easy one for us. My daughter (5 years old) has a potentially fatal allergy to peanuts, which is a common snack item on many airlines. An anaphylactic reaction while in transit could result in her death if it's not possible to land in time to get her immediate medical attention. My husband had flown on Continental for a few business trips this year and he felt confident that your staff would be capable of helping us reduce the risk to our child. Unfortunately this was not the case.

I contacted your Customer Care department about two weeks before our flight and requested that the peanut snacks be replaced with non-peanut snacks on our two flights. I offered to fax the note from my child's allergist that explained the severity of her condition. The representative read to me what appeared to be the standard disclaimer that stated Continental could not guarantee a flight would be peanut free, because passengers are allowed to carry on their own snacks. I acknowledged that I was aware of this risk, and told her I was not concerned with one or two snacks on the flight. I explained that my goal was to prevent dozens of peanut snack bags from being opened simultaneously in an environment that consisted of mostly recycled air. The representative informed me that she was not able to request the snack be changed for the flights and advised me to discuss my needs with the representatives at the airports.

We arrived at the Cleveland airport 2 hours before our scheduled departure. The representative who assisted us at the ticket counter was excellent. She reviewed the note from my daughter's allergist and, as expected, quoted the standard disclaimer. She then called down to the food services department, read them the note from the allergist, and made arrangements for the peanut snacks to be left off of our flight. She said she would contact the gate representative an hour prior to departure to verify the request had been fulfilled. She advised us to also check in at the gate to let them know who we were. She was not able to make the same arrangements for our return trip, but told us to follow the same process (arrive 2 hours early, present the note, etc.) and we should not have problems. Needless to say, we left the gate feeling much better about our decision to fly.

My mood was slightly dampened at the gate when I checked in. I was told in an impolite tone that, even though they should not have been removed, the peanuts had been taken off of the aircraft. Despite the rude statement, we had a very pleasant flight. My daughter arrived in Florida happy and healthy, ready to conquer the Magic Kingdom.

The return trip was terrifying. We arrived at the Tampa airport 2 hours prior to our departure. I presented the representative with the letter from the allergist and requested that the peanut snacks be replaced with non-peanut snacks. The representative said that a request for a change in food service had to be made 48 hours prior to departure. I explained that I had tried to place the request 2 weeks prior to departure through the Customer Care department and had been told that the request had to be done at the local airport. The representative told me there was nothing she could do, but informed us that no food was being served on this flight. I told her I was concerned about the peanut snacks that are normally served with the beverage service. The representative again told us that no snacks were going to be served. She said if we wanted snacks in-flight we needed to be sure to purchase them before we boarded the plane. You have probably guessed by now that we were horribly misinformed. As soon as I realized that the in-flight staff was passing out packages of honey-roasted peanuts, I made my daughter put on a filter mask. Fortunately she did not have a serious reaction. She arrived home miserable but alive.

I understand that Continental is a service oriented company and realize that in your attempt to serve the masses, the life of one little girl may be insignificant. There's a good chance that you may even be relieved that she will no longer be one of your customers. Her medical condition can be very inconvenient, especially for a company that must strive to please the majority to survive. However you stand to lose more than just customers if you do not establish a procedure around the handling of food allergic patrons, and ensure that your employees are thoroughly trained on the process. There is a very real possibility that a passenger could lose his/her life while in your care. If for business reasons, you cannot justify removing dangerous food items from flights that will be transporting food allergic customers, you must ensure that your representatives make it very clear to your consumers that people with life threatening food allergies should not fly with your airline.

On Nov 1, 2001

SSlaught, what a horrible experience! I think your letter is great, though. We did have 2 more successful flights with Continental this summer. We ran into some very helpful people. We did have a flight attendant who was quite silly, though. I was told that they would serve pretzels instead of peanuts, but one flight attendant told that in case any passengers requested peanuts, she had them in her pocket and would give them out. HUH??!! Some people just don't get it, and I think you ran across some really insensitive, uninformed people. I wish Continental would get their act together. Oh, and that part about needing 48 hrs to switch out the peanuts? Give me a break!!! I've had flight attendants omit the snack because they didn't have pretzels to replace the peanuts! It seems that it just boils down to individual people-either they are kind or they are ignorant.

On Nov 2, 2001

SSlaught -- most excellent letter. Please post their response!! Thx, EB

On Nov 12, 2001

SSlaught-I think it is a good letter also. I think Dawn is exactly correct that because Continental has no policy for removing peanuts, we are at the mercy of whoever happens to be working on our flight. So far I have been lucky in that regard and dealt with kind people(at the gate and on the plane, NOT the people on the phones). I'm sorry to hear you had to deal with someone not so. I was also disappointed to hear they served peanuts on your flight because on my last flight with Continental a stewardess had told me she thought they were not serving peanuts anymore. And indeed on the last two flights with them they were already planning on serving pretzels, NOT peanuts when I asked about it. I thought maybe they had decided it wasn't worth it to serve peanuts anymore, even if they would not make it their official policy. I will say that on one flight they told me the same thing they told Dawn- that they wouldn't hand peanuts out, but if a passenger specifically asked for peanuts, they would give them to that passenger. I figured that was alot better than serving them to everyone and if someone close to us asked for peanuts I could talk them out of it(bribe them if necessary), but I didn't hear anyone ask for peanuts and saw no peanuts on that flight. I totally understand your refusal to fly them again. I wouldn't either except that they dominate the market I'm interested in and I haven't had any problems so far. So for people still flying with them or any other airline that won't guarantee removing peanuts for your flight, I would offer these suggestions from my experience. When you make your reservations have them put in your file and your child's that your child has servere peanut allergy. The people on the phone will tell you they can't do anything about it, but it seems to help when you get to the gate that this is already in your file. It may get around that 48 hr rule also if they try to pull that bs. Get to the gate an hour early and discuss with the gate attendant AND ALSO the stewardesses as you get on the plane. Of course try to be REALLY REALLY sweet even if they seem clueless. If they refuse to take the peanuts off the plane try to get them to serve pretzels and give peanuts only to those people that specifically ask for them. We also bring a sheet for his seat for him to sit on, wipe everything down, and bring Benedryl and epis.

On Nov 15, 2001

We are planning to fly Continental from NJ to California over the Christmas Holiday. My 2 year old son is PA. I have been on the phone twice with Customer Care trying to arrange for them NOT to serve peanuts on our flight. The two women I have spoken to so far both told me the same bs about not being able to control what other passengers bring on the plane and serving peanuts if people ask for them, but they were both willing to try and help me. They just aren't sure how. One of them is calling the head of food services for me and gave me her direct extension so I can call her back. What finally got through to her was when I said something to the effect of which would displease the other passengers more...keeping peanuts off the plane or landing the plane somewhere in Iowa (no offense to those of you in Iowa it is just in the middle) because I had to adminstier Jack's epi-pen. It also doesn't hurt that my DH travels quite a bit on Continental and is a "platinum elite god". But I think I am getting somewhere with them...we have a little over a month til we go so I will keep you all posted.

On Dec 28, 2001

I apologize for not posting the reply earlier... I received the response below on 11/8. --------------------------------------------- Thank you for taking the time to contact us via email.

Continental is unable to guarantee that our aircraft and food products will be 100 % free of peanuts.

I do apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

Kind Regards

Tonia Nicholas-Manager Continental Airlines Customer Care Department

On Dec 29, 2001

We just got back from a trip to California and flew Continental both ways. I received the same song and dance about "not being able to guarantee a nut free flight" during my many phone calls prior to our flight. After an argument with the RUDE, IGNORANT and DOWNRIGHT NASTY gate agent which reduced me to tears, I finally got to speak to the head flight attendant. As soon as I said that my son was PA he simply said "No problem, I will have all of the nuts removed from the plane - first class too" He also went as far as to make an announcement (without me asking him to) once everyone boarded explaining that there was a PA individual on the plane and to please not eat any nut products brought from home. They served pretzels and that was that!

Coming home, we skipped the gate agent altogether and spoke to the flight attendant who also did not serve peanuts to anyone on the plane (though she did not make an announcement)

Though I am still disapointed that Continental maintains its policy not to exclude peanuts at a passangers request, and I know that I may not always get a cooperative flight attendant, based on this recent experience I think I am as comfortable as I can expect to be flying on Continental.

On Mar 12, 2002

Anyone flown Continental lately? We are flying them again in three weeks. It seems that lately they are almost always serving pretzels rather than peanuts, even before I ask. Maybe I am just being hopeful. Any current stories? Thanks

On Mar 12, 2002

My husband and I have each had occasion to fly Continental a few times this past month. They served peanuts each flight. We avoid Continental whenever we fly with my son who has the peanut allergy.

On Apr 12, 2002

I don`t fly much, so I have never visited the "Airlines" Message Board, but here`s my story about Continental. My daughter was known to be allergic only to milk and eggs, and we booked a flight on Continental for July of 2000. We were planning to fly Los Angeles to Knoxville, changing planes in Houston, and the same thing on return. Four days before we were due to leave, we had a visit with the allergist for skin testing and discovered she was now allergic to peanuts. I was accustomed to flying with Epipens, but not to requesting a peanut free flight. She had never eaten a peanut product, but I bring all of her food on airplanes anyhow. There I was with a non-refundable ticket, and when I called Continental I was told that they don`t offer a peanut free flight because a passenger can bring peanuts on board, so Continental does not refrain from serving them. What a cop-out! Like there`s no difference between a few passengers eating peanuts on the plane and 200 passengers eating peanuts all at the same time. To make matters worse, on the leg from Houston to Knoxville, we could not get seats together when we made our reservation. My daughter was five years old at the time. They promised me that when I got to the gate in Houston they would switch our seats so we could be seated together, but that those seats could not be release until the right before departure. On the flight from Los Angeles to Houston, we talked to the gate agent who said they would not be serving peanuts on the flight anyhow because it was early morning, and that turned out to be true. However, the flight got into Houston late, and the boarding gate for the part from Houston to Knoxville was on the other end of the airport, so by the time we got there the plane was boarding. By now it wa mid-afternoon. I told the gate agent that if they served peanuts there would be a good chance they would have to land the plane before Knoxville, also that my daughter and I must be seated together. (Our assigned seats were nowhere near each other). Get this---THEY REFUSED TO LET US BOARD THE PLANE!!! They wouldn`t let us fly to Knoxville, they wouldn`t let us fly home, they didn`t want the risk!!! Has anyone ever had that happen? You try and tell them how serious it is, then they decide they won`t let you fly! It was so horrible. We stood there arguing while the plane ALMOST took off without us. The plane was fully boarded and only because the flight crew was coming in from Mexico and was detained the plane sat on the ground while we argued. I told them I was going to call my attorney, and I starte dialing on the cell phone. Then they got the manager, who apparently knew that this was against the law (by now I was writing down names), and we got to board. They did seat us together, and the flight attendant was really nice. The only snacks on board were peanuts, and so she did not serve anything. We were very lucky. As far as the trip back to Los Angeles, I decided I was not going through this again. We didn`t use the return part of our Continental tickets, we rented a car, drove 250 miles to Nashville, and flew home on Southwest. I hated to waste hundreds of dollars worth of Continental tickets, but I asked myself, how would I feel if we flew home Continental, peanuts were served and my daughter had a severe reaction. Is it worth it to save $800? Not for me. Someone mentioned Gordon Bethune. I did write a letter to Gordon Bethune about this. They ended up giving me $800 in vouchers to "try us again". Like I`m really going to risk my daughter`s life for a free flight. I have to agree that the flight attendants were responsive to the PA, but the problem is that if the airline`s policy is to potentially serve peanuts, and you don`t know until you board whether peanuts will be served, for me it is too risky. I wouldn`t be able to get on the plane if they are serving peanuts to 200 passengers. The only good thing that did come out of this was about ten months later, just before the $800 vouchers were about to expire, I called Customer Service at Continental, explained that I could not use the vouchers due to PA and asked for frequent flier miles so we could fly Northwest. They did it, so last summer we flew Los Angeles to Knoxville on Northwest. They were wonderful, sent me a letter telling me they would not serve peanuts, still mentioning the disclaimer about how a passenger could still bring peanuts on board but not using that as a cop-out. On the flight they even made an announcement asking that any passengers who had brought peanuts on board not to open them. It was very stress free, and I will never fly Continental again.

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