Goodbye Old Friend
With Continental Airlines about to become a thing of the past, we felt it was right to give a eulogy, tie up some loose ends in the will (including mileage point custody), and let you know how to prepare for the final moments of the life of Continental Airlines.
To be fair, this isn’t exactly a eulogy as United and Continental actually merged in 2010. That being said, a merger of this size comes with lots of baggage (pun intended!), so let’s first take a look at who came out on top. After this week, the Continental “name” no longer exists (1 point United); from a technical standpoint, though, Continental ceased to exist on November 30th, 2011 when the FAA issued a single operating certificate to United Airlines. Pilots have been using the “United” call sign in air traffic control for sometime. While the United name won out, the familiar Continental globe will be the logo going forward (1 point Continental). Headquarters were chosen to be in Chicago (2 points United) but Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport will be the biggest hub (2 point Continental). United’s window first boarding method was adopted verse Continental’s back to front method (3 points United). As for the coffee pots, it was decided to go with Continental’s slimmer, sleeker metal serving pots (3 points Continental). See, this was a MERGER!
Familiar but new: United name Continental logo
Mileage: Goodbye OnePass Hello MileagePlus. Members of Continental’s old OnePass system will have an easy transition; their current OnePass number will automatically become their new MileagePlus member number. Members of United, however will notice that the old program lost the space between mileage and plus and that they will receive a new account number (8 character alphanumeric vs. the old 11 digit system). Frequent fliers will have their Mileage Plus and OnePass miles combined, which could be a good thing, as separately you may not have qualified for status but combined you might. Detailed MileagePlus status requirements can be found here. Before the big computer sync on March 3rd, we suggest you print out copies of your current mileage just in case anything gets lost during the transition.
So, what else can we do to prepare for the final switch, scheduled for March 3rd, 1AM CST? Although we don’t expect a doomsday scenario, if history has taught us anything (cough, cough US Airways, Virgin), you should be prepared for some hiccups. All Continental flights will be renumbered as United Flights (CO now = UA). The Continental website will simply redirect you to United. The reservation system will switch from United’s Apollo to Continental’s SHARES and this might result in lost bookings so we recommend you have receipts and boarding passes printed out. It might be too late to change a flight, or unavoidable to fly at all, but be prepared with back up plans. Also, don’t check your bags. Chances are higher than normal that something will go wrong and your bag will end up in the wrong location. Not having a checked bag gives you the most flexibility in case some glitch causes flights to be cancelled. And if something does go wrong, keep calm, everyone yelling at a ticket agent who is most likely using a system completely new to him/her won’t help.
We are sad to see you go Continental, but excited to see what this marriage will produce. While we hope there are no issues with the final transition, we urge travelers to have backup documentation and even backup plans should something go awry.
“Work Hard. Fly Right”