On April 15, 2010, my wife and children were returning from a visit with family and friends in the USA. We were born and lived in the USA until moving to Honduras four years ago to run an orphanage. Our funding is an equal mix of donations and earnings from my computer programming services. I had traded four weeks of work for airline tickets purchased by a client's credit card reward miles. As it turned out, the miles could only be used to purchase first class tickets. It was the first and probably only time my family will ever fly first class; at least on Continental Airlines.
Although the trip to the USA went smoothly, the return trip was traumatic. At the check in counter of Continental Airlines in Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, my wife and children were greeted by a hostile woman of color. The woman accused my wife of kidnapping because she was taking the children out of the country without a note from the father. She then told my wife the passports were not valid because they were not signed.
Next came the luggage. With first class travel your luggage is normally included. Not so on that day. First of all the same woman/clerk told my wife that there was an embargo and they could not bring the luggage. My wife challenged the clerk on that because she had not heard about an embargo. The clerk looked it up and recanted. The clerk then told my wife that she needed to pay for the luggage and of course it was $25/bag. Since we thought luggage was included with first class travel, my wife was returning with medicines, school supplies and books for the children at the orphanage. Most of the items are not available in Honduras and the things that are available are very expensive imports. For that reason, they were bringing back the maximum amount of luggage (8 suitcases). So the total bill was $200 for the luggage that should have been free.
Finally there was a carry-on suitcase. We'd used the suitcase for seven prior round trips and never had a problem putting it in an overhead bin. On this day the clerk would not allow it. She told my wife that it was too big to carry on and would need to check it. Of course since it exceeded the maximum of eight bags for four passengers, it would cost $100. By this time our three children were in tears and the youngest was asking their mother why the woman was so mean. They saw that other people were carrying on larger bags than the one we were forced to check in. They knew that $300 was enough to feed the children for several weeks. They knew that I had worked four weeks to pay for the supposedly first class tickets. My wife knew that at 4:30 AM and without a phone, there was no way to leave the luggage behind because she could not call anyone to pick up the suitcases without missing their flight.
So pay we did. We asked Continental for a refund but again, it appears their web site includes misinformation (lies) about luggage and first class travel. In fact, the clerk asked my wife where she got the information about luggage inclusion with first class. My wife told her that she clicked on the link that she received with her ticket via email. The clerk told her that the link was invalid because they were no longer Continental Airlines. They had changed to "Star Alliance". So both their web site and emails contain misleading information (lies).
It's best to steer clear of Continental Airlines. At the very least beware of the Continental Clerk at DFW Airport. The same woman has harassed other friends of ours in the past. Our friends were also travelling with children. She also harassed an African American Woman while my wife was leaving. Seemed to be trying to force her to buy a ticket for her 16 month old son. She seems to have an affinity for Arab Men. They were allowed to carry on luggage that far exceeded the one we were forced to check in at $100.