What am I owed for Continental’s codeshare confusion?

Ah, the perils of airline codesharing! That’s the questionable but widespread practice of claiming another airline’s flight is yours. And it doesn’t always benefit the passenger, as Brad Albing will tell you.

Albing and his wife were flying from Cleveland to Paris by way of Montreal on Continental Airlines, which at the time was operating as a division of United Airlines.

Their schedule called for a departure at 6:10 p.m., arriving in Montreal at 7:31 p.m., with a connection on another Continental Airlines flight leaving at 8:55 p.m.

“We arrived at Cleveland Hopkins more than two hours early and checked in with a Continental employee who issued our boarding passes for Cleveland to Montreal,” he says. “We asked for boarding passes for the Montreal-Paris leg and he told us to get them in Montreal. We asked if we would have enough time when we got there and he said yes.”

They didn’t.

The Albings’ flight landed in Montreal at 7:55 p.m., but it turns out the cut-off time for boarding the Paris flight was 7:51. Oh, and PS, the connecting flight wasn’t operated by Continental at all.

He explains,

It was during this sequence of events that we learned that Air Canada was operating the second leg of our flight. We were advised that there is a 60 minute cutoff before departure for international flights.

We therefore couldn’t check in and get boarding passes.

Thus, we were denied boarding.

Since there was no Continental Airlines representative to assist them in Montreal, they phoned the airline to ask for help. A representative offered to rebook them on a flight that left two days later, but said they wouldn’t be offered a hotel voucher or meal vouchers in the meantime. Instead, they should submit their receipts.

In an attempt to salvage as much vacation as possible, we asked for any alternative. The rep suggested a flight to Brussels the next day via Newark.

We accepted that. We flew from Montreal to Newark. Then from Newark, we were flown to Brussels and then took the TGV to Paris.

Talk about a circuitous route!

When they returned, they contacted United Airlines (Continental) by email and told it about the problem. They received a form response.

“Continental said that it was sorry that things worked out as they did and that Continental did make good by getting us to Brussels,” he says. “And they hoped to see us on a future Continental Airlines flight.”

The Albings decided to escalate their complaint. They felt Continental should take some responsibility for allowing an Air Canada codeshare flight to be booked with a tight (possibly illegal) connection and that it didn’t give them enough information about their connecting flight. They appealed their case to a Continental manager, in writing.

Here’s the response, which came by way of United Airlines:

In reviewing our current policies, [our representative] advised you correctly regarding compensation/reimbursement.

Allow me to explain: Although Air Canada is one of our partners, the through check-in process is not always possible.

At the original check in if the connecting carrier does not have seats then the check in would fail. I regret the inconvenience you and your wife were caused. Unfortunately, we are unable to issue monetary reimbursement.

I have issued you and your wife a travel credit. You will receive it via a separate email. We value your business and thank you for choosing Continental Airlines.

Albing is puzzled by Continental’s answers:

The travel credit issued was for about $303 each (my wife and me) – so they appear to be issuing a travel credit equal to our out-of-pocket expenses.

Unfortunately, that won’t buy a ticket to most of the places we’d be likely to go (e.g. Phoenix or San Francisco). Still, I understand their reasoning.

What I don’t understand is why the answer changed significantly from the response I got from the first rep to the second.

The first response seems to be equivalent to saying, “Oh well – these things happen – flight was a little late – tough break. We got you there eventually.”

The second response takes a different turn – “Sure we told you that you had a reservation. But that doesn’t mean we actually have a seat for you on the plane. The check-in process failed, but we didn’t think it was important to tell you at the time that we screwed up and you got screwed. Once we have your money, we pretty much stop paying attention to the process.”

I think the second response is much better than the first one. Then again, this shouldn’t have happened at all. (Some of it may have been because of the merger between United Airlines and Continental, which didn’t go as smoothly as the airlines hoped.) But shouldn’t they have known about the Air Canada switch?

Did United Airlines (or Continental) do enough for the Albings?

Update (noon): I got a.m. and p.m. confused in an early draft. Here’s the exact routing: Depart Cleveland on CO2243 at 6:10PM, 17 Sep. Arrive in Montreal at 7:31PM. Depart on CO8118 at 8:55PM. Arrive in Paris the next morning.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google Plus

  • Jen Hanuschak

    They should’ve driven to Pittsburgh, then flew straight from Pittsburgh to Paris on (I believe it’s) Delta. One plane=less room for error.

  • http://blogs.ocweekly.com/stickaforkinit Dave Lieberman

    Had they been advised in Cleveland that it wouldn’t be possible, it would have been better. Still bad, but better.

    One thing confuses me, though: how were there no representatives of Continental in Montréal at the termination of a CO flight from Cleveland to Montréal? If it was operating as a division of UA, they should have made a scene at the UA desk.

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    What a terrible outcome for the OP! Not being issued a boarding pass for the 2nd leg would’ve been a red flag, esp. when they knew it was a tight connection. They got screwed thru no fault of their own and lost precious vacation days. Not only should they have gotten reimbursed (in cash, not credit), they should’ve gotten a credit on TOP of that for all the hassle. CO really dropped the ball on this one… What I don’t understand is why it’s being viewed as ticketed (and I’m assuming paid for) if it was only being treated as a “reservation”?

  • absherlock

    While I do agree that it was a rotten experience, I think the amount of the compensation was fair. It was unfair, however, to force them  to take travel vouchers for non-airline out-of-pocket expenses. Perhaps there should be a rule that if an airline wants to offer vouchers for those reimbursements, it should be double the actual amount.

    Further, I think that if an airline can sell tickets for another carrier’s flight, it should be able to supply boarding passes for that flight. There’s no reason the OP should have had to leave Cleveland without boarding passes for Montreal.  

  • Sam Varshavchik

    This should be a fairly clear-cut case for Continental to reimburse the travelers for their out of pocket expenses directly, and not with funny money.

    The travelers presented a sufficient case that they suffered damages through no fault of their own. Unless Continental disputes some part of their story, the basic facts is that they booked their reservation on Continental, and Continental was responsible for getting them to their destination, on time.

    They didn’t. Whatever Continental’s excuse is, is irrelevant. The fact is that they didn’t, so, at the very least, they are entitled to be reimbursed for their out of pocket expenses that they suffered due to Continental failure. I see no valid reason why they should be required to accept funny money. They incurred real, out of pocket expenses, and, at the very least, they should be reimbursed for them.

    Also, since this was a flight for Europe, shouldn’t EU regulations be in play here, concerning travel delays? This is, after all, a travel delay, when it comes down to it.

  • TonyA_says

    Something is very wrong here. [I am going to assume that the Albings checked through luggage all the way to Paris also.]

    When one checks in a flight from CLE to PAR via YUL with codeshared flights following the first segment, it should be a standard practice for the airline (Continental) to check the passenger(s) and their luggage THROUGH ALL THE WAY TO THEIR DESTINATION.

    The article makes it sound like the Albings were not even checked in for the 2nd segment (Air Canada YUL-CDG) of their flight. That is why they said they were caught in the 1 hour prior departure cut-off. 

    If the CO agent failed to check the OP all the way through PAR because the YUL-PAR flight was oversold , then the agent should have advised the OP accordingly and rerouted the couple from the get go. So this is failure #1.

    [I want to make it clear that one can be checked in through all the way to their destination WITHOUT being given boarding passes. But at least you are checked in and assigned a seat.]

    The second failure is CO not taking care of the stranded couple in Montreal.

    After reading this, I would think twice before I book CO/UA again. 

  • TonyA_says

    Sorry, double posting error

  • TonyA_says

    EC261/2004 does not come in play since the NON-EU airline flight did not originate from Europe.

  • Raven_Altosk

    I’m highly disappointed in CO here. I’m also curious to know if this was an illegal connection, if it was, they sold the couple a flight that they would never be able to board and that’s like selling a car with no title. Sure, you paid for it, but good luck using it legally.

    Anyway, I’d like to see CO offer more of a goodwill gesture here. They dropped the ball and then jerked these folks around, which is not at all what I expect from my hometown airline.

  • Raven_Altosk

    As a long time CO flier, I have to say, since the merger, the customer service has gone in the toilet. I used to be able to call their customer care center and get a knowledgable and caring person. Now, I’m lucky if I get one that speaks English. 

  • TonyA_says

    I agree. They screwed my customer really bad when he wanted to upgrade to business class. What we wanted to do was well withing the TARIFF RULES but the sales coordinator declined our request. She couldn’t even read their own rules. I’m done with them.

  • TonyA_says

    Just my opinion here … but very suspicious move.

    Suppose the checkin agent in CLE saw that the YUL-CDG segment was overbooked already. If the agent couldn’t find another route then the pax would have been denied boarding immediately right from CLE. The current DOT required compensation is about $1300 I believe.
    But what if they simply dispatch the pax to Montreal (YUL) knowing he will possibly be stranded there. To avoid penalty they purposely do NOT CHECK THE PAX IN THE YUL-CDG segment and let the pax duke it out with Air Canada instead.Could this be a possible scenario to avoid DBC (Denied Boarding Compensation)?

  • http://twitter.com/johntbaker John Baker

    Sorry but CO screwed this one up big time. What I read was a whole bunch of airline double-speak for, we failed provide what you purchased but we’re going to do nothing for you. This isn’t a case of weather delay. This is a case of CO selling an impossibly tight connection. Especially once they had to leave security to check in again (which the CLE agent should have caught).
    Chris – Do you know if they would have been due denied boarding if CO just told them in CLE that they couldn’t make the connection and rerouted? Did they tell you who sold them the ticket? The only time I’ve seen AC routings out of CO are FF tickets. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one on a paid ticket.  (It makes a difference to me on who sold them the tight connection. If a TA or online booking company sold them a marginal connection, they would have some responsibility here).

  • TonyA_says

    John this is not an illegal connection. The minimum connection time in YUL is 60 minutes. The scheduled arrival 7:31AM to scheduled departure 8:55AM is more than 60 minutes.

    The real issue here is skirting the US DOT involuntary denied boarding compensation rule.

    Canada does NOT have a DBC rule. It allows Air Canada (AC) to establish its own rules.

    Since the CO gate agent knew the IATCI (Interline Through Check In) failed because AC could not assign a seat to the OP’s party then the agent SHOULD ALREADY HAVE ATTEMPTED TO REROUTE the OP.

    Sending the OP to YUL without checking them in, to me, is tantamount to INVOLUNTARY DENIED BOARDING IN THE USA because the airline already knew the outcome once the passenger got to Canada – they will be stranded.

    This is VERY BAD. The OP should file a case with the US DOT.

  • john4868

    Tony … I agree with you if the situation is how we’re guessing and CO attempted to bypass the law. In that case, the OP should file a case and request DBC at $1300 for each of them.

  • TonyA_says

    This should be a warning to ALL AMERICANS! If you take a route VIA CANADA, you might lose your US DOT protections if your airline fails to check you in all the way through your foreign destination and simply DUMPS YOU TO CHECK IN AGAIN WITH AIR CANADA or another NON-EU Airline.

    What’s the point of getting to Canada for a “connection” to find out that you’re stuck there on your own dime.

  • Bernard Rappoport

    Just wondering about the times of these flights…..0855 from YUL to CDG has only happened when the previous night’s flight has been scrubbed.  There is no scheduled AM departure, daytime operation to CDG ex YUL.  CO at YUL used to have a Station Manager, Juan Lara.  CO is now handled by UA, but believe this is contracted out to Swissport or the like.  So much for the “seamless service” Star Alliance likes to hype.  Of course, next step should be Small Claims Court…big companies never send anybody to defend themselves as they can’t send a lawyer, has to be an employee/manager/executive..so you will get a judgment by default…which you then execute by bailiff as a seizure at an opportune time (i.e. 3 days before Christmas).

  • Asiansm Dan

    It’s obvious that the fault is from CONTINENTAL and the compensation is not enough.
    By the way, there are some facts are not correct :
    – Air Canada don’t have flight depart to Paris in the Morning.
    – Continental do operate counters in Montreal YUL Airport, may be there is no more flights depart when the OP contact them.
    – By my own experience it’s possible to check luggages thru with CO and CA flight, my family do it a lot when Flying YUL-EWR-HNL with CA/CO.
    The real problem is the at Montreal YUL Airport, US to Europe traveler have to take their own luggage thru Canadian Immigration and Custom and recheck for the European bound flight. The connection process require at least 2 hours because Montreal YUL Airport is one of the worst Airport in the world for connection. It’s an inefficient Airport in modern world where travellers have to walk miles and miles from the plane to the Custom and Immigration and when you are in connection you have to walk twice.
    I think Continental screwed up by using the tied connecting time.
    If the OP must have to do CO/AC to Europe, they better make connection in Toronto YYZ, they don’t have to pass Custom and Immigration in Canada because there is International Transit Zone in Toronto but not in Montreal.

  • http://www.pipdigital.com Nancy Dickinson

    IMHO, this is  definite case of the airline fouling everything up and the PAX pays for it.  To add insult to injury, they “sort of” reimbursed them for their expenses but did so in such a way that the “money” comes back to them.

    I’m sorry but, the OP and his wife didn’t use Continental’s Monopoly money to pay for their expenses, they shouldn’t be reimbursed in that manner.

    I’ve never been a huge fan of Continental to begin with and this solidifies my never flying them again, particularly for a overseas flight.  I can’t afford to be abandoned in another country because they have a greater interest in grabbing my money than they do in actually GETTING me to my destination.

  • VW

    I wonder if the fact they were traveling through Canada played any role in their inability to check through? Meaning since they were US citizens was there some sort of need to re-check their documents/paperwork once they entered a foreign country before being able to board and head out to yet another foreign country. I’m sure, like TSA, the Canadians have some sort of process to evaluate foreigners arriving and departing their country.

  • Asiansm Dan

    Even if the connection is legal, in the reality the OP cannot do it with less than 2 hours. I live here and I know how this Montreal YUL Airport is inefficient for connecting.

  • MarkKelling

    CO did something similar to me but with a much happier ending.

    I was scheduled to fly back from Europe last summer and, I still don’t know why I felt the need to do so, checked my flights a couple days before I was scheduled to fly.  One of my flight segments on a code share partner had disappeared from my reservation.  It was just gone. No notice of any kind was sent to me about this.  I called CO and the reservation agent said, “Oh, that flight always gets cancelled.”  But the flight was not cancelled and they were still selling tickets for it!  After 3 hours on the phone they placed me on a completely different set of flights with Lufthansa to get me home.  Good news was the flights I ended up on got me home 2 hours earlier (they cost a lot more than my original ones which is why I did not choose them myself when I originally booked).  Bad news was I lost 3 hours of my vacation and missed a tour event.  At least I was able to catch this early instead of blindly showing up at the airport and being told I had no seat on the plane.  And I am glad I did catch it because all of the flights I ended up on were oversold and who knows how many days I would have been stuck before a flight did open up.

    CO provided nothing to me, not even a handful of worthless miles, for my troubles.  I wasn’t asking for anything except a non form letter explanation of what happened, but I didn’t even get that.  So if this is how they treat their top tier frequent flyers who are flying on a full fare 1st ticket, I have no doubt they treat the other flyers worse.  And I agree with the other posters here that since CO and UA have merged, CO has the worst customer service, almost as bad as UA was before the merger. 

  • MarkKelling

    Duplicate edited out. System acting strange today.

  • RealDarrenCohen

    They can’t check you all the way through to your destination since you needed to clear customs first in Montreal.  Also, every contiental/united itin I have using Air Canada says in pretty clear print “Operated by Air Canada”.  

  • Asiansm Dan

    The process is the same for Canadians or any foreign citizen, they don’t even have separated lines for Canadians, everybody in the same line.
    US to Europe via Montreal have to take their luggage out, pass thru Immigration and Custom and recheck their luggage. The same apply on the return.
    And the same apply when people traveling from International to Canada via USA.

  • TonyA_says

    Yup. The Canadian TWOV (Transit without Visa)  program only works in Vancouver (YVR) and Toronto (YYZ) airports; and only from the ff. airlines – Air Canada, Jazz, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Air China and Philippine Airlines.

    If the Canadian airport is not designed for transit w/o visa, then passengers need to clear Canadian Immigration and Customs. 

    Anyone who plans to TRANSIT via Canada to Europe from the USA (and vice versa) should really avoid doing so unless you are using the above airports and the pre-authorized airlines.

    Of course, your airline wouldn’t give you such precious advice.

  • MarkKelling

    CO used to be my favorite — easy FF redemption (miles for 1st class to Hawaii at Christmas?  Always available!), convenient schedule from their hub (I lived in Houston), a call center in the US with understandable people, and employees that seemed to actually care.  But that all seemed to change with the UA merger.  And now with the UA gate agents working CO flights, it is pure confusion and frustration dealing with them.  Oh well, I guess Southwest is looking better all the time.

  • http://www.pipdigital.com Nancy Dickinson

    Isn’t that usually the way it is?

  • D S

    Perhaps $303 represents the TGV cost plus a hotel and meals in Montreal (or Newark, I’m not sure which), but it does not make up for the stress, aggravation, and loss of a vacation day. I’ll bet they had to pay for the first night of hotel they missed in Paris, too. The airline should reimburse expenses in CASH so they can pay their credit card bill (what, AmEx won’t accept a voucher good for future payments? What’s wrong with them?) and additionally as a gesture of good will, Continental should offer a travel voucher of $150-250 per passenger.

    I agree compensation is to make the OP whole, not hit the lottery, but the airlines – all three – United, Continental, and Air Canada, share part of the blame in allowing this reservation to go through as it was, and then being less than helpful in making it right on an immediate basis. Frankly, I think they should have been given priority for a Paris flight out of Montreal (and I’m sure there were some sooner than two days later).

    Any time I have to connect on foreign soil it makes me nervous of getting stranded at the connection. If I MUST do a connection as part of an international flight, I try my best to make it within the U.S.

  • D S

    Perhaps $303 represents the TGV cost plus a hotel and meals in Montreal (or Newark, I’m not sure which), but it does not make up for the stress, aggravation, and loss of a vacation day. I’ll bet they had to pay for the first night of hotel they missed in Paris, too. The airline should reimburse expenses in CASH so they can pay their credit card bill (what, AmEx won’t accept a voucher good for future payments? What’s wrong with them?) and additionally as a gesture of good will, Continental should offer a travel voucher of $150-250 per passenger.

    I agree compensation is to make the OP whole, not hit the lottery, but the airlines – all three – United, Continental, and Air Canada, share part of the blame in allowing this reservation to go through as it was, and then being less than helpful in making it right on an immediate basis. Frankly, I think they should have been given priority for a Paris flight out of Montreal (and I’m sure there were some sooner than two days later).

    Any time I have to connect on foreign soil it makes me nervous of getting stranded at the connection. If I MUST do a connection as part of an international flight, I try my best to make it within the U.S.

  • TonyA_says

    Also, I, too, think that something is wrong with the flight times in this article. But I will ignore it.

  • AirlineEmployee

    On a side note— all the generous (compensation) goodies that have been given away by United, I’m sure will now come to a grinding halt or be drastically reduced with Continental’s management and way of thinking at the helm.  United has given away the store and I’m sure CO has already figured that out.

  • TonyA_says

    Sure they can check you in if there is a seat available. You are confusing the issuing of a boarding pass for  subsequent flights that MAY or MAY NOT be issued during check in. You can be checked in for the next flights [of an  interlined carrier] if you can be assigned a seat.

    The issue here is that AC most probably OVERSOLD the  YUL-CDG flight and the CO agent could not get an assigned seat – ergo the through check in failed.

  • RealDarrenCohen

    Even if they give you a seat, you still need to recheck your bags and check in at the counter in Montreal.  Whether they gave them a seat or not would not have mattered as his first flight being delayed meant he missed the 60 minutes cutoff for an international flight in Canada.  The problem here is that they allowed a cutoff of only 20 minutes when booking.  It seems they got compensated, so I really don’t even know what the issue is.  Also, something does not add up with this story on another count.  You are in Montreal, are you telling me that there were no flights to Paris from there/Toronto/Newark/DC or any of the other hubs those airlines operate?  I have flown so many times in the last year on those airlines to Canada, around the US, intl etc and due to weather there have been issues on a few, and the service was nothing like this.  They both took responsibility for code shared flights and offered rebookings on any of their star alliance partners.  

    Lastly, the entire issue here is that they were allowed to book with such a short connection. For that they should have been compensated. Once that part was missed, not sure what should have been done day of. If the flight had a 3 hour layover and it was snowing and they got there 40 minutes before the next flight, how should it have been handled?

    Also I see someone else wondered this too, but flights to Paris are at night do out of Montreal. This whole story is BS. NEXT!

    Also flying out of Montreal last year my morning flight was cancelled to Newark, and I needed to get out for a meeting. Without hesitation I was put on an AC flight to LGA by a CONTINENTAL GATE AGENT!

  • reasonedthought

    Actually, a connection from CO to AC in Montreal is an exception to the standard 60 minute minimum connection for international to international.  The correct minimum connection time is actually 90 minutes when connecting from CO to AC.

  • whatup123

    delta does not operate pittsburg to paris flight.  most paris flights on skyteam are operated by AF, though delta operates those coming from ATL/DTW/MSP/JFK and increasingly LGA.  MAybe US AIr operating CDG flights out of pittsburgh?

  • SoBeSparky

    Ahh, the problems of flyers who do not read your column.  I am sure you have warned travelers over a dozen times about the pitfalls of code-sharing.  Buyer beware, as usual.  When booking the flights, there is almost a 100% certainty that the flight schedule/itinerary prominently said the CO flight from YUL was to operated by AC.  

    Why the surprise of a code share on the day of departure?  The traveler should read every word on the emailed itinerary.  Yellow flag immediately is raised.  Less than 90 minutes to change carriers and tackle an international check-in?  Having traveled well over 100 international flights, I would decline that itinerary immediately.  Even a novice might begin to wonder about this situation when the flights were chosen.

    Continental did enough.  The plane was late, and the connection was missed.  Tough luck, and on almost all fares, getting your overnight expenses reimbursed was generous compensation.  Many simply get nothing other than, “The flight delay was not our problem.  Sorry.  See you tomorrow.”

  • bodega3

    Yes they can check you all the way through. 

  • sunshipballoons

    Kinda surprised by all the “no” votes considering that the customer was satisfied with his compensation. Seems to me that if the customer is satisfied, the compensation was sufficient.

  • bodega3

    Chris, why did you add, “possibily illegal” connecting time instead of checking into what the actual legal connect time is at YUL for these flights?  Do you want to sensationalize your articles or provide good information to your readers?  You have Janice Hough available over on CT to work with before submitting your articles so please use a professional travel professional so everyone benefits!

  • IGoEverywhere

    If they had dealt with a live ASTA travel agent, they would have had seat assignments with the connecting carrier. No agent in their right minds though would have booked that close of a connection (legal or not) for and international flight with a change of carriers. I called 3 other agencies in the Pittsburgh area and they also said that they would never use such a close connection. You advocate that people shold use travel agents for the more than ordinary trip. Guess what Brad, you lose this time.

  • bodega3

    ONLINE    .30  1.00  1.00  1.00                                
    OFFLINE   .30  1.00  1.00  1.00                                
    ** OR * ARE ALL                                                
    **-AC II  1.30 ALL  – FLT 6820 UNITED STATES – ALL             
    **-AC II  1.30 ALL – ZRH UNITED STATES – ALL                   
    **-AC II SUP   UNITED STATES – CUBA                            
    **-** II  1.00 UNITED STATES – UNITED STATES                   
    **-** II  1.00 ALL – UNITED STATES                             
    **-** II  1.00 UNITED STATES – ALL  

  • TonyA_says

    The bottom line is checkin closes 1 hr before flight, while if you are already checked in they can’t just give away your confirmed seat till 30 minutes from departure if you are not in the gate. So which would you rather do? Check in of course.

  • RealDarrenCohen

    Maybe I am wrong, but I think in this situation where you have bags you need to recheck your bags after immigration in Canada with the same 60 minute cutoff.  

    Again, this story is made up so we are talking with a lot of what if’s.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    It’s because they were not fairly compensated. The Albings took the compensation because CO hasn’t offered anything better. The Albings were basically bumped from their flight to Paris because of an oversold situation but the airline is using the “oh you didn’t make it 90 minutes before the flight” as an excuse to screw them over. They deserve additional compensation (in this case 2 RT international tickets) for being involuntarily bumped from their flights. This is pretty much industry standard.

  • TonyA_says

    So as Bodega explained,
    The MCT between CO and AC on international-international flights in YUL is 60 minutes unless it is connecting to AC6820/6821 which is a codeshare of Swiss Intl LX 0087.

  • TonyA_says

    Chris Elliott: Is this story made up? Or did you or the OP screwed up the flight times or something else?

  • Joe Farrell

    Was the flight on whomever [Air France?] from Montreal to Paris full?  Or was there just some bureaucratic reason for not issuing a boarding pass to a connecting passenger because they arrive at the gate inside of an hour? 

    As for the Ablings – I know the average person has no real clue about this but neither United nor Continental has any right to fly from Montreal to Paris and EVERY SINGLE RESERVATION I HAVE EVER SEEN states clearly, via asterisk or otherwise, that the airline operating the flight is not the airline selling the ticket.   Plus you always get some crazy flight number like 9975 or 6256 that you never see in line operation with a code share. 

    As for everyone being ‘disappointed’ in CO – guess what folks -0 its not CO anymore – its United.  The surviving airline is United and we get all of their top quality customer focussed service. 

    UA screwed up.  They should be forced to pay CASH money not vouchers. 

  • http://twitter.com/drewtipton Drew Tipton

    Seriously, not having a boarding pass for the second leg happens to me all the time (over 125k miles combined each year for the past 4 years).  It’s a function of all the codesharing and, to be honest, the overbooking of some of the flights.  It happens.  Not having a boarding pass is not necessarily a red flag.  I would’ve asked for my seat number on that second flight, though.  And — and this is just my paranoia showing here — I wouldn’t’ve booked an 84 minute connection in a foreign country!  With that, you never know what might happen with customs and immigration and paperwork for the flights and the crew and everything else.  I’ve had a United flight from Denver to Toronto sit on the ground in Toronto for 45 minutes while United faxed the immigration paperwork that the flight crew had forgotten to pick up.  Especially in this day and age, with the flights so tightly connected and stuffed full, there needs to be more due diligence.

  • RealDarrenCohen

    Also, there are no morning flights CLE > YUL either.  

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    I added the exact routing in the update. I had a.m. and p.m. mixed up — sorry!

  • jennj99738

    You actually have gotten through to a human at CO lately? When I call, a machine answers saying they’re experiencing high call volume, try again later, and hang up.  

  • Raven_Altosk

    Slightly off topic, but I often refer to CDG as “Hell’s Outhouse.”

  • RealDarrenCohen

    Not trying to be rude to you Chris, something still does not add up.  I have PDF of last years timetable and looked at current times, and that flight still does not exist.  Let’s even pretend that the flight is real, the continental system won’t even put two flights that close together.  Is it possible that they missed an earlier flight and had to move to a later flight out of CLE that would “Cut it close”? Also the no agent thing is a big red flag as someone who flies to YUL on COA a lot (married a Canadian).  Airlines have plenty of problems to complain about, I just think sometimes people like to tweak stories to play the victim a little more. 

  • y_p_w

    Not exactly a codeshare, but anyone here ever taken an international flight from an airline without its own counter?  I did once.  Flew to Asia on a 747SP.  The counter assigned us three seats across from aisle to window.  However, when we got on the plane, the seats didn’t exist.  Where the seats normally would be, there was a special luggage storage bin. We eventually found out that this was the only plane of this model in their inventory that had that bin in place of the seats.

    However, they did move us to seats that did exist.  Economy was completely full, so they put us up in business class.

  • Arudo

    THIS EXACTLY HAPPENED TO ME; the first leg was codeshare with AC which dissappeared (perfect connection which I had chosen so I could get home without trouble). Long story short, they had to reroute me through one of their flights which screwed the rest of the connections and had to sleep at IAH before arriving to my final destination. I lost one vacation day at my job and they refused to compensate for anything, with help of Chris, I could get a check for the night hotel at IAH, but it took months to resolve the situation and they didn’t admit any faults, it was a “goodwill gesture”… Lesson learned: Now I always try to secure a seat by calling the codeshare airline before the flight.

  • TonyA_says

    Please allow me to clear up a few things:

    The current schedule of CLE-YUL-CDG on CO/AC is:

    #CO4252 CLE YUL 330P 511P ERJ
    #CO8118 YUL CDG 750P 845A#1 2A 77W

    Note there is 2 hours and 39 minutes in between flights (511PM to 750PM). This should be enough time to clear CAN Immigration and Customs for a transit flight.

    There is an earlier CO flight from CLE-YUL.
    CO4251 CLE YUL-1115A  1252P
    But of course you need to consider that the passenger will wait in the airport from 1PM to almost 8PM. So even the smartest travel agent will have difficulty explaining that to the passenger.

    There is only one non-seasonal AC YUL-CDG flight, the one above. There is a seasonal one from June to September.
    DLY  #AC 884    YULCDG- 555P 640A#1   763           EFF 19JUN DIS 27SEP
    So, this seasonal flight can easily be combined with the earlier flight CO4251. If so, the connection time between flights would be about 5 hours.

    From what I have posted here, minimum connection time does not seem to be an issue at all.

    I still suggest that the issue is an oversold AC flight from YUL to CDG. This is the reason why I think through check in failed from CLE. I maintain that the CO agent who checked the OP in in CLE should have re-rerouted him asap and should have not sent him to YUL. But of course that is 20/20 hindsight.

  • TonyA_says

    After reading the update, last September the schedule was:
    CO2243 6:10p Cleveland (CLE) 7:34p Montreal (YUL)
    AC870 8:55p Montreal (YUL) 9:40a+1 Charles De Gaulle, Paris (CDG).
    It was a legal but tight connection.

  • duvenstedter

    Good grief! The usual rule of thumb for international flights is to arrive at least two hours early. The Albings seemed to be aware of this, because they “arrived at Cleveland Hopkins more than two hours early.” Why did they think  Montreal (where they allowed only 84 minutes) would be any different? Montreal-Paris is a second  international flight.
       Even if the Cleveland-Montreal flight had been on time, it would have been a really tight connection. I assume that since they had no boarding passes to Paris, their luggage was not checked through to Paris. So they had to wait for their luggage in Montreal. Last week, my wife and I arrived at Logan from Miami and had to wait for our luggage for 50 minutes after the plane arrived at the gate!
       In 2005, we made a 1 1/2 hour connection in Seattle for Vancouver (international flight). Our luggage didn’t. (It had been checked through to  Vancouver, but the connection was from one airline to another.) No problem- our luggage caught up with us that evening in our motel near the Vancouver airport. As planned, our cruise departed the NEXT day!

  • duvenstedter

    Sorry for duplicate posting – I swear I pushed the button only once. (I did get a “system error” message).

  • TonyA_says

    CO2243 was indeed scheduled for 610P-734P last Sept.
    And AC870 departed 855PM for CDG.

  • TMMao

    The agent does speak English, maybe not the American version you’re used to hearing, but it’s still English.  And sometimes, the foreign accents are easier to understand than the regional variations.

  • RealDarrenCohen

    If as you say a flight was oversold, Continental can and WILL give an Air Canada passenger a boarding pass with no seat assignment on it. It will say “check in at gate”.  According to their website they have a minmum 90 minute connection on international connections.  If this story is true, it means they booked two reservations and tried to check in for both in Cleveland.  

    Last comment and I am done, but there was a 6:05PM Continental flight to CDG from EWR that left with 28 open seats on it. Again coming from a CO employee. I don’t work for them, I have had my issues with them, do have a few friends that do work for them. Why would they not just be put on this? Anyway, they got their money back.

  • RealDarrenCohen

    I found it, and it landed 14 minutes late. This had to be booked on 2  different reservations as CO has 90 minute intl connection rule according to a systems analyst there.

  • TonyA_says

    Darren, we are running out of space so I will post my answer to your latest post here.

    My GDS will allow legal international connections in YUL between CO and AC at least 60 minutes. I don’t know where you are getting the 90 minute MCT.

    That means, last Sept CO2243/AC870 could have legally been sold together.

    I am thinking oversold flight because of CO’s answer to Chris:

     At the original check in if the connecting carrier does not have seats then the check in would fail.

    Well why would Air Canada’s Departure Control System (DCS) not provide a seat assignment to CO’s DCS do CO can check the passenger THROUGH on the day of departure? The reason is AC sold out the seats.

    Think about it, what is the penalty in Canada for AC to involuntary deny boarding? They say it’s posted in the check in counter. Isn’t that a joke? So why won’t AC oversell? What’s stopping them?

  • Raven_Altosk

    @TMMao:disqus :
    I don’t consider someone in India reading a script speaking English. They don’t understand the problem; they only stick to pronouncing words on a screen.

    Case and point: I had one try and do a ticket change to Portland, Oregon. She had booked me to Portland, Maine, despite my giving her the correct airport codes.

    It took me another two calls to get THAT mess sorted out.

  • TonyA_says

    If as you say a flight was oversold, Continental can and WILL give an Air Canada passenger a boarding pass with no seat assignment on it. It will say “check in at gate”.

    Well that ain’t a boarding pass. You can’t board with it.

  • VW

    Which would mean then that there was no way to check all the way through and no way that the connection given was enough time.

  • y_p_w

    I’ve been having problems too.

  • AirlineEmployee

    Sloppy, very sloppy work on the part of the CO agent…..Any agent with an ounce of knowlege and common sense would have quickly looked at the record and determined that the actual carrier would be Air Canada from Montreal.  At that point they might have clearly determined that the connection time might be compromised and offered another routing, i.e., CLE-ORD and ORD-CDG  or CLE-EWR, EWR-CDG or heaven forbid with CO – rebook on ANOTHER AIRLINE !!.  I’m finding out they are not inclined to do that.   Also, with no exaggeration not too many Air Canada folks know what they are doing also.  Thirdly, very few airline employees are thoroughly trained to think out of the box – they just go with the first “availability” they see in the computer no matter how illogical it is – no sense of trying to think of other routings or airlines to use that would make more sense and save the passenger all the aggravation!

  • AirlineEmployee

    You are kidding, right ?   A recent CNN documentary “Customer Disservice” truly showed many international call centers that literally read from prompts on their screen and written scripts.   They are totally clueless – don’t even realize when customers are angry and yelling at them.  I’ve had international call center employees just repeat and repeat the same thing over and over no matter how much you try to explain the problem.   So there is “english” and there is English but it’s not the “english” I am speaking — they don’t get our (American and even British) vagaries and vernacular !!!

  • Asiansm Dan

    Usually YES, even the traveler have to take the luggage thru Immigration and Customs, CO can issue all the Boarding Passes and tag the luggage all the way to Europe but I think this case is disputable because may be the flight from Montreal was oversold and CO let the traveler deal it in Montreal. Something wrong happens, plus the connecting time wasn’t enough even it’s legal. Adding to that, gate is closed 20 to 30 minutes before departure time. The fault is obviously Continental and Air Canada combined.

  • Asiansm Dan

    With this connecting time, no way the OP could make it in YUL.

  • http://www.talestoldfromtheroad.com/ Dick Jordan

    Even on domestic flights that involve a plane change, I try to allow 2 hours (or more) between scheduled arrival on the first leg and departure on the second leg.  That usually gives enough leeway so if arrival of the first flight is delayed, you’ll not miss the connecting flight.  I’d definitely allow at least that much time where one has to fly from the U.S. into another country, and then catch a connecting flight to yet another country. 

    When I’ve have to make connections on an international flight in the past, I’ve had to clear customs and immigration on arrival at the airport where I’ll catch the connecting flight, retrieve my bags and recheck them. 

  • adventurebaby

    I think this couple was definitely screwed. However, he sounds like a seasoned traveler, who should have known that his connection was much too short. I would never do less than 1.5 hrs domestically and 2 hrs layover for international. Arriving planes are almost always late when you have a connection. I’ve run through too many airports because business partners made our reservations with not enough layover time. No more. I’ll have a latte and relax with my extra time from now on.

  • Miriam Abrams

    I get the same thing. I have tried for days to get through but am unable. It doesn’t surprise me though, United sucks!

  • jennj99738

    Try calling late at night.  I just had to call on Friday due to a schedule change and I finally did speak to a human–after 45 minutes on hold.  The rep actually was helpful.  I nearly fainted from shock.

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    Delta does operate Pittsburgh to Paris during the spring/summer months.

  • http://twitter.com/texasbrian texasbrian

    I have to put some blame on the passengers here. When I travel internationally, I… (a) know which airlines I am flying, (b) check in online for all airlines, (c) never leave the counter without all boarding passes. I’m guessing they were at the counter because they needed to check bags… which were checked to CDG, another thing I would have checked. Yes, CO messed up, but you cannot be a lemming as a passenger. If you are, then you must accept some of the blame. 

  • jherrmannmt

    Code share is a terrible idea. I was flying with wheel chair service from Madrid to Spokane, WA, with the leg from Madrid to Amsterdam serviced by KLM and from there by Delta. Though I’d requested wheel chair service at all stops, the KLM agents told me they could do nothing for me because I was going on via Delta. The log walk between terminals was almost impossible for me and took over an hour. But I made the Delta flight because it was 12 hours delayed. But I did get two free fast food meals out of it. They’re all heart, those airline people.