I received the following email today from United about United and Continental linking their networks and services, including their frequent flyer programs. This is the first of probably a series of combinations, mergers, or cooperations that will occur in this market.
I still won’t fly either airline unless I have to because the service is so bad, especially charging for the first checked bag. Good luck, you’ll need it.
As a valued Mileage Plus member, we wanted you to be among the first to hear that Continental and United today announced plans to cooperate globally, linking our networks and services worldwide to deliver new benefits to you. In addition, Continental plans to join United in the Star Alliance®, the most comprehensive airline alliance in the world.
Once implemented, this new partnership, will easily enable you to take advantage of the resources of both airlines to enhance your overall travel experience, and receive more value from your Mileage Plus membership.
First and foremost, this partnership will include new frequent flier reciprocity that will enable you to earn miles when flying on either airline and redeem awards on both carriers. Travel on either carrier will count toward earning elite status. Similarly, members of either airline’s airport lounge program will have access to both Continental’s Presidents Club network and United’s Red Carpet Club® lounges.
Second, together with Continental, we will be able to offer you a more comprehensive domestic route network and together with our Star Alliance partners, greater choice of service throughout the entire world.
Starting in the U.S., you are going to see United and Continental develop extensive code-sharing that will facilitate travel whenever your itinerary involves both carriers. We will be able to provide you with a coordinated process for reservations/ticketing, check-in, flight connections and baggage transfer.
Internationally, Continental and United will establish joint ventures that will allow us to cooperate with each other and with other Star Alliance airlines throughout the world. These joint ventures will enable us to provide you with highly competitive flight schedules, fares and service to more destinations than we do today.
In short, once regulatory approval is obtained, this new partnership between United and Continental will expand your choice of flights and destinations, and improve your ability to earn both miles and elite status in Mileage Plus. Together we will offer you more value whenever you fly. We expect to bring you the benefits of our cooperation starting some time in 2009, and until then, we will keep you informed about our progress.
We appreciate you and your business, and we look forward to seeing you on your next flight.
Vice President – Mileage Plus