Once upon a time there was a USA airline that I really liked. Texas based Continental Airlines flew to 140 cities with an attitude to service I really liked. Between 1991 and 2001, I flew Continental the equivalent of two trips around the world. I ranked them consistently the best US “legacy” airline for a while
In the same story was Continental’s beau- United airlines. I have long had a love hate relationship with them. Flew United a lot but don’t ever feel I really bonded – especially when they served me up some of the worst flights I have been on. I have travelled 103,586 miles (166,705 kilometres) with United, the equivalent of four times around the planet.
After two years, tomorrow at 1am, Saturday March 1, 2012, the two airlines stories are finally and totally entwined as the last steps of the merger take place. What will change this weekend:
This weekend, the Continental name will finally disappear forever from flight numbers, airports and the web. Interestingly, some of the better elements of the of Continental will survive. As we have seen over the last two years, the new United keeps Continental’s trademark blue sphere logo, their colours and fonts. All of which I liked better!
Continental.com will disappear in favour of United.com. However United.com is like the old Continental site in layout in both appearance and functionality, looking at this mock up of the site. I always preferred the Continental site so that is a good thing in my books.
The most significant and potentially most risky parts of the merger will be the transfer of the United and Continental reservations systems into a new SHARES system, the same system Continental has been using. Apparently 10 000 employees have been involved in the cutover process and there has been four dress rehearsals leading up to this week. United plans to have additional staff members on the phones and in airports this weekend.
This could mean you will have a new reservation number but the system will accept both old and new res numbers. (phew). The big question is what will happen Saturday? In the best case scenario, passengers will make bookings, log in and fly as normal. In the worst case, reservations agents and passengers won’t be able to retrieve reservations and the airline will be a sea of chaos. The reality will be somewhere between the two, I think. Even so I won’t be contacting res or flying this weekend with United.
My next flight is Tuesday with them so an hoping all bedded down by then!
Frequent Flyer Programs: MileagePlus and One Pass
Continental’s One Pass name will vanish in preference for into United’s MileagePlus . However, the program will be using Continental’s membership numbers and not United’s. For Continental One Pass Customers, this means no change. United Mileage Plus Customers- will be assigned a new frequent flyer membership number. Customers of both United and Continental who linked their accounts (as I did) will use their existing Continental number. Customers of both United and Continental who have not linked their numbers will of course have two numbers.
Because MileagePlus and OnePass each use different methods for earning lifetime status, United are using a one-time mileage calculation to bring MileagePlus members into the new Million Miler program status levels.My lifetime miles are 250 000!
So good bye to Continental name, Hello to a Continental influenced United. Heres hoping for a successful marriage!