My first experience on a Continental flight will undoubtedly be my last. I was flying with my husband and a small group of friends from Albuquerque to Houston on January 23, 2012. We made our reservations and seat selections five months in advance. About two weeks before our trip, Continental changes the flight and our seat assignments and freezes the seat selections so there are no options to move. Instead of being seated next to my husband, I receive an aisle seat mid-plane. The aircraft is a small regional jet and the seats are not very large to begin with but after I am seated, my seat mate arrives on board. The gentleman is well over 300 pounds and has trouble coming down the aisle. I will say that this kind man was so sweet and self aware, and he tried everything he could to fit into the seat next to me but it was impossible. I could not fit in my seat without being in the aisle and could not fasten my seatbelt without him standing up. I am petite-5'4" and 120 lbs.- but we could not fit together. everyone on the plane noticed and my husband, as they closed the doors, got up and discreetly asked the flight attendant to move me into one of the dozen or so empty seats-some were at the rear of the plane, not premium seats. The flight attendant tersely replied that that was not going to happen, that I may not change seats under any circumstances, and that it was against policy. My husband calmly tried to get her to be resonable, even offering money if it would help. I spent the flight with half my person in the aisle or standing up. This was unsafe and totally unnecessary as there were plenty of open seats.
The real insult was on the return trip from Houston to Albuquerque a week later. We had to purchase "ugraded" seats after our trauma to be sure that the same thing did not happen again. The plane was, again, about 3/4 full but this time, after the doors were closed, several people that had undesirable seating got up and simply sat where they wanted to-including the "upgraded" seats- and not a word was said to them by any crew member. Personally, I think this is how it should be and how it is on most flights I have taken.
Maybe our first flight attendant was experiencing some issue that day but if so, she should have stayed home, and Continental should make this right by me.