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A Word of Thanks, Continental Airlines


It was right about then, at 705am on 58th Street and the West Side Highway, sitting in the front seat of our car service town car with my wife and the girls in the back seat, that I knew we were in a perilous position to make our 8:40am flight to Curacao yesterday.

Scarlett likes to drop the bathroom bomb on us with little warning, and when she announces her bathroomly intentions, she doesn’t mean that she has to go in a few minutes, she means that she requires a bathroom NOW.

We make our driver crazy and ask him to pull off and over to 10th Avenue and 50th Street where I’m pretty sure there’s a hotel that Scarlett, age 5, can use. We head over, she takes care of business, and we get back in the car.

It’s Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving, so there’s traffic heading out of the city. By the time we arrive at Newark Airport it’s 7:45, which is plenty of time, when I’m traveling alone, to stroll through security, have a cup of coffee and a peppermint at the Presidents Club, and mosey onto my flight.

But I’m not traveling alone, and I’m checking bags, and it’s less than an hour from departure. We head up to drop off our bags and we’re told by the check-in machine that the flight was closed an hour before departure. The check-in machine has no heart and cares not that if we miss Continental’s twice-weekly flight to Curacao we will have no vacation at all.

The gate agent, though, does have a heart, and overrides the machine (a triumph for man vs. computer, finally) and checks us in. Except that she doesn’t. The bag tag system is down, so she needs to manually tag the bags. It’s 8am, and our flight departs in 40 minutes.

She asks us to come with her to another check-in area where they have the manual bag tags and she can get us on our way. But, and I really should’ve seen this coming, Scarlett HAS TO GO TO THE BATHROOM NOW, which, as noted earlier, does not mean in 15 minutes. I tell the agent we have to stay here so the younger of the twins can go to the bathroom.

No problem, she says, and runs to get the tags and brings them back. 8:05, she returns, tags our bags, and says we have zero chance of making the flight if we go through security on our own. She takes the 4 of us pathetic creatures through employee security (“they’re with me…c’mon!”) and then onto a cart (“this is funnnn!!!!”) and we make it to the gate just in time to be the last one’s on. Susan actually hugs and kisses the agent agent, we tell her she’s a rock star, and we get on to the flight with no problem.

That’s the long way of saying Thank You, Catherine Pimentel, gate agent. You saved the vacation and showed that people just need to stop complaining that airlines always treat people like crap. You are a gem.

I’ll bore everyone with details when we’re back, but we used miles to get down here on Continental (no one thinks about going to Curacao as evidenced by the award seats available a few weeks ago for the day before Thanksgiving, and our flight was only 2/3rds full), and we’re going back on American (bought the tickets, but used credit from Capital One Venture deal a while back where you got $1,100 in travel credit).

We’re staying at the Baoase resort, and it is absolutely amazing. Used rest of Capital One credit plus Chase Sapphire Preferred credit to offset some of the cost (sometimes I just like to say in a non-chain hotel). I’ll post some photos when we’re back. I can’t recommend it enough – again, full report early next week.

Happy Thanksgiving from the OTR.

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  1. This is a wonderful story. People often forget to share the good stories and instead highlighting their terrible experiences.

  2. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! Could you tell me how many Continental miles were needed for the flight?

  3. Thanks Jared! It sounds like an incredible trip (I looked up Baoase Resort and it looks AMAAAAAZING). Have a great time!! And I’m looking forward to your full trip report (please include lots of pictures)! :wink:

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