Sunday, August 29, 2010

What the United Continental Merger Means For You

The United Continental merger will make United the largest airline in the country. Both companies combined serve over 144 million customers each year. The frequency of flights may be reduced and some flights may be eliminated. There may be fewer flights between small cities.

There should be improvements in flight schedules. United has hubs in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston. Continental has hubs in San Francisco, Denver, Washington, DC and Cleveland.

Frequent flier programs already allow customers to use miles on both airlines. If you are a member of Continental’s airport club program you can use United's club programs. Both airlines use the same credit card program. Business travelers locked into corporate contracts may see higher prices.

Continental’s pilots are paid more than United’s so United’s pilots are expecting pay raises. Some jobs may be lost due to the merger due to the logistics of business mergers which usually involve cutting costs and reducing redundancy.

According to Joe Brancantelli on, don't be concerned with what you hear in the media about the merger. I would add that you wait about a month or two after the merger has been finalized, then watch for comments on updates to their services. Here are some other tips from Brancantelli.

1. Learn the airport jargon, listen to how airline employee talk to each other. Ask the agent, “Where’s the equipment?” The agent will go to the computer and find out where your plane is and when it will arrive. If the plane is already at the gate ask the agent, “When are we scheduled to push back?” This means when will the plane take off. If you want an upgrade ask, “How are the loads today?” This means how many empty seats do you have and the agent will let you know your number on the upgrade wait list. This will be to your advantage because you will not be viewed as the average customer and they will inclined to provide you with more information.

2. Remove your business card tags. Replace with business tags with tags with your home address on all baggage you check-in at the airport. After mergers some unhappy bag handlers may mysteriously misplace bags with business tags because they are most likely to complain about service.

The merger reduces the depth of airline competition which may cause an increase in airfares, however the airlines assure passengers that fares won't be affected, we will have to wait and see.

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