The ROI of UX: Continental Airlines

From my post on aiaio:

Yes, there are premium seats available; no, you can’t have them. I asked if I could pay extra to reserve those seats: no. I asked if I could get a seat assignment, any seat assignment, so I knew I would make it on the plane: no. I eventually gave up my attempts to cajole customer service into helping me, and after a few hours of deliberation, I took my business elsewhere.

My story isn’t all that uncommon, but it still strikes me as a miss on Continental’s part. Why must they hold a random middle seat for an unbooked elite member, thereby denying a paying customer a chance to confirm travel?

Between this and Continental’s other discomforts—a small 31″ seat pitch in coach; 60,000 miles to book coach-class reward travel—I haven’t flown CO in more than five years. In the interim I’ve been on American, JetBlue, Virgin Atlantic, Northwest, Alitalia, Midwest, US Airways, United and Virgin America, and I’ve enjoyed all of them more than I enjoy my typical interaction with Continental. (Well, maybe not Alitalia.)