Last (Tower) Call for Continental Airlines

Baristanet, like many local news organizations, subscribes to Breaking News Network, which fills our email boxes daily with news of fires, stabbings, shootings and other mayhem picked up on police and emergency scanners. Yesterday, however, BNN sent us a little history instead:

NJ| Essex| Newark| *Local News*| Newark Airport| Continental airlines will have its last flight flying under the Continental Airlines call sign today. The last flight designated Continental will be flight 86 landing at Newark at approx 1735 hours. All flights will be flown under the call sign United after this flight lands. This flight is currently airborne from Shanghai|BNN | BNNDESK/NJN180 | #439643

Sure enough, the information was confirmed in a Continental news release, announcing that the FAA had granted a single operating certificate to the combined Continental/United Airlines operation.

The two carriers went through a rigorous 18-month process of aligning operating policies and procedures to obtain a single operating certificate from the FAA. A team of more than 500 employees from both carriers worked together to evaluate closely each pre-integration program, process and operating specification from both airlines to determine the best choice for the new United. The team streamlined more than 440 operational manuals, programs and procedures down to approximately 260 manuals for the new United – a process that involved roughly 2,000 changes.

“Effective today, air traffic control communications will refer to all United and Continental flights as ‘United,'” the news release concluded.

“It starts with air traffic control,” says Mary Ryan, a spokesperson for United Airlines in Chicago. “It’s all operationally on the back end. The changes to the customers are minimal.”

For now, the two airlines have separate brands, websites and ticket counters — but the merger at the customer level is expected to take place early next year. Still, I’m glad BNN sent the news. No mayhem this time, but a feeling of anticipatory nostalgia for a brand that has so utterly dominated Newark Airport, Continental’s second-largest hub.

Photo: Wikipedia.

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  1. “The changes to the customers are minimal.”
    Oh really? What about Continental being the last holdout on food in economy class? Something that has disappeared since the merger. Recently flew a former Continental now hybrid CO/UN flight and it wasn’t as good. Not surprising giving I was always partial to Continental and hated United. Makes for an adequate at best airline.

  2. I never saw a service industry (I speak of the entire airline industry) go out of its way to make life as miserable as possible for its customers. We recently flew Delta to California for a family reunion and not only was it $25 per checked bag (thankfully, knowing this, we only had one to check), we had to pay for our (lousy!) food. Granted, these tickets were not cheap, either (plus, no senior discount for hubs). I really don’t get it. If owned an airline, I would go out of my way to court customers with free food on the longer flights (like in the “old days”) and no fee for checked bags (up to 2 bags). We were fortunate in that we had no major delays or other disruptions but I read the horror stories (the latest being Jet Blue stranding customers on the tarmac for 9 hours in NH). If any industry needed a lesson in customer service and appreciation, this is it!

  3. A team of more than 500 employees from both carriers worked together to evaluate closely each pre-integration program, process and operating specification from both airlines to determine the best choice for the new United.”

    494 of them have since been laid off.

  4. If you want to avoid the luggage fees, Mrs. Martta, get a Chase/United Credit Card. If you have a Continental/United Frequent Flyer account, having the card will be added to your profile and they will waive the fees when you book online. The card has an $85 annual fee, I think, but two round-trips with two bags is $200 saved. I got mine a couple of years ago on a promotion that waived the first year fee and fronted me 50,000 frequent flyer miles on Continental. Look around, there are probably offers out there.

  5. The fee is $95. They say no black out dates also, but good luck getting any first class seats on any Friday – Monday flights. And the customer service reps are in Banglore. It took me 3 hours on Sunday to book a trip. I had to do it on the phone and had to pay a fee for that (traveling with a pet) so I hope I don’t have to pay for luggage too.

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