Nearly two years after the old United Airlines first announced its merger with Continental Airlines, the new United has finally taken off. But the ride hasn’t been easy.
The two carriers embarked on the trickiest part of its operational combination. Over the weekend, the last electronic vestige of Continental Airlines disappeared.
Tom Parsons with BestFares.com, says the most complicated task was to switch the two carrier’s computer and reservation systems into one.
“I think almost 25 percent of their planes across America were delayed this weekend because of this technology.”
All Continental flights were renumbered as United flights. The Continental.com website is now United.com. Parsons
says a snafu with flight numbers can cause major havoc for the traveler.
“United was using one set of flight numbers, Continental was using another set of flight numbers for the exact same airplane, and now they had to take those two and put them together, and ride it and piggy back. So if you still have to make any changes or anything in that order, they still have to take care of you. If there are some flight differentials or flight time differentials, then you probably should get on the horn real fast.”
The upside is that the merger makes the world seem smaller.
“You’ve got the largest airline in the world. You can go from point A to B. The business traveler is gonna love it because they can go to more destinations than ever before, and still earn their frequent flayer and their perks, and everything in that order.”
It may be United Airlines, but the Continental logo remains, and Parsons knows that means a lot to the flying public.
“I think that really helps keeps some people’s minds in place, that they still are flying their old buddy Continental. There are still parts of that airline left in Houston, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen that happen. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen that happen.”
At United’s Terminal C at Bush Airport, employees were ready to answer any questions and direct people to their destinations.
A random sampling of airline passengers drew these comments:
Woman: “I always fly Continental better than United, okay? I was treated much better on Continental than United.”
Man: “I’ve only checked my bag a couple of times. This will be the first time for treatment with United, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Man: “Problems I’ve had, have been online getting my boarding pass, and those have been problematic. I’m a frequent flayer, so I’ve had some of those issues, but I think they’ll iron all those out.”
Woman: “Nothing right now, everything seems to be pretty positive but, just a matter of time to wait for.”
Although the new carrier is now headquartered in Chicago, Houston will still have an important operational role in the company.