Thank you for flying Continental. My ass.

My fourteen year old daughter, Amy, arrived yesterday from San Francisco. I haven't seen her since last Christmas, because I live in San Antonio, Texas, due to a remarriage and relocation.

Amy's plane ticket was purchased by my former best friend, the one who snatched my second husband out from under my nose about a year and a half ago. I think this was a guilt offering on their part. Fine, I'll take it. Without them buying the ticket, I wouldn't be seeing Amy for God knows how long. The friend told the airline that Amy was fourteen, they said no problem, and the purchase was made.

So Amy and her father Koji arrive at San Francisco International Airport at 5 AM yesterday and are told that Amy, as an unaccompanied minor (most airlines consider them such until age 12. Continental, however, has to be unique), owes another $75 - EACH WAY! Koji is flat broke, in the middle of moving, and could not afford the $150 so he paid the one side, I'll need to cover the other when she goes back next month- on an income of $840 a month for a family of five. Ow.

Could they tell this to the ticket purchaser? Hell no. That would involve being responsible and require that you do your job properly. Anna and Isaac would have paid the $150, and on an income of nearly $200,000 a year, they can afford it. Instead, two very broke parents get shafted by the airline.

But wait, there is more. Koji called Continental a week ago to ask about weight limits on baggage for San Francisco to Houston flights. He was told seventy pounds per bag. Arrived at the counter and they say "No, that's only international. Domestic flights are limited to fifty pounds per bag." Another $50 in overweight fees. As Koji put it, if he had been accurately informed he would have stuffed the bags to the gills and sent me some of the stuff I had to leave back there when I moved.

The plane was an hour late leaving SFO, and arrived in Houston late. They raced my daughter to her connecting flight, only to have her sitting in the plane on the runway for nearly two hours. Meanwhile, Sam and the boys and I are heading to the San Antonio Airport to pick the girl up.

We get there twenty minutes before the plane is due to arrive and see that it is running 45 minutes late. Okay. We sit. We wait. At exactly the time the plane should now be arriving, they put up a new time. Another hour and twenty minutes. Shit.

At this point I have a starving seven year old and a voracious nine year old. Of course there is no food at the arrivals section of the airport, only past security, so we get in the car and race to the nearest fast food joint. Wolf down the food, and race back to the airport, where the plane has arrived twenty-five minutes before their last posted notice. My daughter had already been placed in the unclaimed luggage section. Okay, not really. She was at the security office. The passengers had disembarked less than five minutes before we got there according to several passengers I asked, and the luggage was still being off-loaded, but you know, for $75, they can't wait five minutes for the parents who had to go feed the other kids.

When we finally got home, I noticed the voice mail flashing, checked it, and who do you think it was? Continental. And were they polite? No. "Your daughter is waiting for you here at the airport. She is at the security office. If she is not picked up within ninety minutes, child protective services will foster her temporarily until arrangements can be made with a responsible guardian for her pick up and return to San Francisco. Thank you for choosing Continental." Yes, they honest to God said that, I just transcribed it word for word from the recording.

Continental can lick me. Hard.

But my kid is here, and that's what really counts.