Fact-checking the Continental Airlines-United Airlines merger

By | May 3rd, 2010

In their push to become the biggest airline on the planet, Continental Airlines and United Airlines wasted no time posting a merger website this morning. Maybe they should have considered hiring an editor before they did.

Now, I realize that no one is accurate 100 percent of the time, and that I’ve had my fair share of corrections. Feel free to let loose with the people-who-live-in-glass-houses-shouldn’t-throw-stones comments.

Then again, I’m not at the top of the airline food chain, either.

Take the great state of Delaware, for example. The merged airline claims to have a total of 55 daily departures from the first state. Oh, really?

No, not really. The new airline will only serve two nearby airports, Baltimore and Philadelphia. Delaware itself will remain free of the new United.

Seems like a stretch, don’t you think?

In fact, the merger site is littered with inaccuracies. It shows a nonstop flight from Frankfurt to Los Angeles. But neither United nor Continental offer a nonstop to LAX. Ditto for Providence-San Francisco. You have to make connections in Chicago and Newark, respectively.

If they can’t even get this right, it makes you wonder what else they’re going to screw up.

The answer comes to us from Jerry Clavner, a longtime reader of this site, who sent me his thoughts on the merger this afternoon:

They already charge us for the food, our bags, extra for our seats if we are fat, and soon to use the loo.

They route planes that are supposed to go west to some place back east to pick up three more passengers. There is less room for our legs than for cattle on the way to feedlots. You cannot stand up and if you need to use the facility, the air marshal gives you the dead eye.

Continental and United lose more baggage than a tot at Disneyworld. Their staff does not or cannot tell you anything about delays on either departures or arrivals. They clean their craft with leaf blowers and deodorants sprays. A piece of equipment without an electrical problem was probably borrowed from North Korean Air.

So what if they merge?

I hope Jerry’s wrong. I think Jerry hopes he’s wrong, too. I hope the errors get fixed and that this merger works for the airline, its employees and customers.

Related story:   A room at the Plaza Hotel for $119 a night? Where do I book?

Who am I kidding?

  • Captain Wendy Morse, of the United Airline Pilot’s Association, said, “It has to be one set of procedures, so it’s a lot of learning, a lot of retraining, and that retraining requires a very robust training program to make sure it becomes innate.”

    The United pilots union says it worries the new, merged airline is relying too much on Internet-based learning — and not enough on time in flight simulators.

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