17 May 2012
My Dear Friends from Continental Airlines,
A simple question for you: what is wrong? What is it that is truly bothering you?
I have been a steady United Airlines customer since 2004 and I grew to love the airline. I also have flown Continental Airlines going back to your SkyTeam days, when I used to receive complimentary upgrades by virtue of my Northwest Airlines Platinum Status.
Like many of you, I was skeptical about the merger. I thought life was pretty good for me as a top-tier flier on United and despite the technological limitations of United’s website and the poor behavior of some pilots and flight attendants, I was very content. It bothered me to see morale so low (which I blamed on duplicitous leadership at the top), but I still found genuine and caring crew members who were proud to work for United.
Commuting regularly between Philadelphia and Southern California, I’ve had many an occasision to experience Houston, Newark, and even Cleveland-based legacy Continental flight attendants since Continental and United became one on 03 March. With the exception of dear Brenda on a Houston-San Jose, CA flight, every flight operated by a legacy Continental crew has made me just a little angry.
Why? Because every flight either the pilot or the purser (I know you don’t even use the term purser) or sometimes both makes the following announcement: “This flight is operated by Continental pilots and flight attendants” or the even more egregious “We thank you for flying on Continental Airlines today.”
This is not a slip of the tongue or an honest mistake, but a deliberately-calculated move, an odd sign of pseudo-solidarity that leaves passengers like me fuming. Such announcements display a stunning lack of professionalism and appear to me to be nothing more than a childish temper tantrum that will do nothing to bring back the name “Continental” Airlines.
Maybe I should just let it go, but the nostalgia does not even make sense to me. Look around this new airline called United. You have Continental folks running it, Continental’s SHARES PSS (passenger service system), Continental livery, the Continental website with the United label slapped over it, and really the Continental mindset of doing business. In other words, United is dead and I am quite surprised that more United FAs and pilots are not mourning the loss of their airline. Maybe they are just more professional than you are (though when UA pilots play the hat-off, hat-on game, I arrive at a different conclusion).
Continental Airlines has won out in everything but name. Business continues as usual at the former Continental hubs and I just cannot figure out why you folks must continue to refer to yourselves as from Continental.
As much as I’d love to see United and Continental continue to operate as separate airlines, what is done is done. There are many small changes in policy I do not like either, but I am dealing with them and moving forward. Surely it is not too much to ask the same out of you.
Professionalism is critical in the aviation business and I wish you good folks would start acting a little more professional. “United” is not a curse word.
Matthew, a very frequent flyer
How come this gets under your skin so much? I mean its just a few words. I’m sure it will peter out pretty soon.
As a proud sCO employee, I say good for the crew! Passengers will not dictate where my loyalty & pride reside. I personally do not put this in my announcements but it certainly gives me the warm fuzzies when I hear it. So go relax & enjoy your day because knowing that I have coworkers that still say this really makes my day!
@Del: Perhaps what disturbs me more than saying Continental is that they don’t say UNITED!
@Carol: Thanks for your comment! Do you think it is purely to get “warm and fuzzy” that drives literally almost every CO crew that I fly with to say that? You read what I wrote–isn’t it true that the much bigger post-merger adjustment is for the legacy UA folks rather than for you on the CO side?
While I agree that it’s both unprofessional and nonsensical to refuse to acknowledge the change in name of the airline (given that it’s really Continental that survived), you have to ask yourself — why does this make you angry? It has no impact whatsoever on the quality of the flight or the service you receive.
I have also been on several “Continental” flights after March 3rd. I found the announcements interesting and I have the same feelings as you Matt. I have had another experience in MCI (different terminals for United/Continental) in which a “Continental” agent said she couldn’t check on a United flight, and I would have to go to the United terminal to do that. Her exact words were “That’s a United flight. They can do that for you.” Really? I think I see a big “UNITED” display right behind you.
If I was in a leadership position in United, this would really tick me off. The employees should all move forward with the new company name and move forward with the vision and direction of the company.
I think at this point crews from both carriers do still feel very separate, considering they are flying separately, still operating under separate contracts, and wearing different uniforms. Obviously legacy United crews have no need to alter their announcements, since there has been no change . It’s also interesting how often customers are heard asking if the crew is “Continental” crew, or a United crew. I think it is unfair to simply see this as childish unprofessionalism.
@Larry: That’s another fair point. It makes me angry because I see so much change in the Continental direction, really a victory CO has won in the war against UA, and yet FAs are angry. It’s not so much a proud nod to heritage as it is almost a vindictive move–like when UA FAs wore their “Glenn’s Gotta Go” bracelets.
A few moments ago I saw a couple of tweets about the United + Continental pilots having a vote to authorize a strike, so I wonder how ‘united’ they will be on that.
It might give the new United some time to work on their computer systems.
@Carol – You say “Passengers will not dictate where my loyalty & pride reside” – those passengers are your airline. Without them United would not exist and you would not have a job. What a shame to hear someone that works in the customer service business has such blatent disregard for customers. No wonder United is in the state it is in today with that kind of attitude.
As a Flight Attendant for United, old Continental, I am not angry nor am I vindictive and to say that all CO flight attendants are angry and vindictive is simply wrong. I am proud to be from Continental but at the same time I am very excited to work with old UA flight crews. Customers ask all the time whether we are old UA or old CO, so this divided mentality is also coming from the customers as well. I once had a plane cheer when the pilot said we were old CO. And I have also heard UA crews announcing that they are indeed old United Airlines when I have flown on one of their flights just as you have heard it from old Continental crews. I’m not sure who you are but maybe you should actually talk to the crews instead of sitting back with your headphones on reading your newspaper and judging us.
Get some thinker skin and shut up, Matthew…
Matthew, with all do respect may I ask how many hours you’ve spent on Legacy Continental metal since March 3rd? I am a proud United (ex-con) flight attendant. I’ve flown approximately 160 hours (35 legs) since March 3rd and I’ve only heard that announcemment on 1, I repeat ONE leg. I like flying the lead position and and often catch myself referring to the flight as a Continental flight while making my announcements. This is due to saying my announcements from memory for 15 years. I like talking to people directly so I do not like reading the announcements. I think many of my co-workers feel the same way. So maybe you’ve heard this at times and it’s been a slip of the tongue. Yes, I know there are some folks out there doing it deliberately but I feel you are lumping ALL of us into the same category! I have met fabulous Legacy United flight attendants, some who are already flying with us. So to answer your opening questions, “what’s wrong and what is truly bothering me?” Nothing. I love my job and am very thankful to have the opportunity to see the world, meet wonderful, interesting people and get paid for it.
Many of us at CO have been employees since the Lorenzo days. We have worked very hard to make the company #1 in a all areas. It has been a hard slap in the face to see our hard work go down the drain before our very eyes. I would like to also set the record straight, many of the policy’s and procedures of UA were implemented and you are quite misguided if you believe otherwise. We all will get over it and move on and be the award winning flight attendants that we were pre merger. Time heals all wounds.
Thanks for your loyalty matthew. There is a lot going on in the flight attendant world behind the scenes that you just don’t understand, so please don’t jump to conclusions. Many Continental flight attendants are upset because they may loose on average between 10-20% of seniority in a date-of-hire merger, and that makes a huge difference – it can make the difference of weather you can fly domestic vs international or have a solid schedule vs being on call 24 hours a day, 21 days a month, expected to show up at the airport with as little as two hours notice. Many of co f/as are loosing routes they flew for years and even commuted from – Brussels, Geneva,Zurich, and Lima to name a few. While you have every right to expect professionalism from the crew as a customer, please don’t assume you know everything – fas aren’t necessarily acting childish, they are panicking as their way of life is constantly threatened in the merger.
@Aeromiles: Fair point.
@Suzanne: I do talk to the crews all the times, admittedly more so on legacy UA flights, but lately I’ve figured it is not worthwhile to bring up what seems to be a sore subject. I have talked to some FAs about this–one told me they just don’t like what they are seeing. I asked for elaboration and there the FA said that her colleagues were seeing a loss in benefits. I asked which benefits, and she could not point to any one in particular. That’s one thing that prompted this letter and its opening line–I want to know exactly what is wrong.
@WrinkledShirts: Many thanks for your comment. I’ve been on the following legacy CO flights since 03 March:
PHL-LAX (operated by CLE-based crew)
With only one exception–and I kid you not–the IAH-SJC flight–some form of the we’re CO message was made by the pilots (mostly) or FAs.
I am happy to hear nothing is wrong and I appreciate your good attitude!
@Amber: Thanks for your comments. Comments like yours are the reason I wrote my letter and I welcome your responses. Some, in private conversations, have already said that the more generous UA-style crew rests on trips (better hotels, longer layover) may revert to what you are used to as an ex-Con, but that would be status quo, not a step back. I know you are paid a bit more than your legacy UA colleagues and Mr. Smisek would like to change that, but that won’t happen. The only concrete change I know that is (rightfully) agitating ex-CO pilots is the regional flight exemption was 45 seats with CO and may soon be 70 seats (as it has been with UA).
But help me understand specifically what else I am missing!
@CO f/a: Thank you as well for your comments. You help to answer the question I posed to Amber. Is seniority the main issue that is concerning you and your colleagues?
You can see that I am not trying to be nasty–my opening questions, “What is wrong? What is it that is truly bothering you?” were asked to learn, not to condemn.
@Carol That is exactly why many 1k’s like me have taken AAdvantage of AA’s shrewd offer and left UA. Replacing a beautiful logo with microsoft click art, that attitude along with all of CO’s craptastic policies have driven us away. Until United becomes United I will not be back. I hope it works out but I am not going to give me business spend to UA until it does. CO got everything it wanted except for the name. It’s really sad because I used to be a real UA cheerleader back in the Tilton days my friends thought I was crazy for flying UA over WN, VX or even B6 but UA treated me well and always made things right.
No Matthew, we look it up to see if you are on our flight for that day, and then we make sure we make the PA about being a Continental Crew.
We were used to being #1 for so many years, that was the Continental name, not the United name. This too shall pass, in about 6 years. Just let us have our moment of nostalgia….there’s so much more in this world to be worried about instead of whether someone says the flight is operated by a Continental crew. Oh, and thanks for flying United!!
I’ve heard the “Continental flight” announcement as well on at least half of the 12 IAH or EWR flights I’ve taken since 3/3. The announcement doesn’t affect the quality of the flight, or anything else substantial. However, it is very indicative of the “us vs them” attitude that is very prevalent in every aspect of United these days: flights, reservations, agents, etc. It makes the customer service experience much more frustrating and less reliable. All of the comments from FA’s and pilots justifying this attitude miss the point: it irritates customers and drives business away. I have been a loyal UA 1K for many years, but have flown a ton on CO as well. Like Matthew, I have chosen to move a significant portion of that business to AA until this issue (and the even more annoying issue of selling all the upgrades at cut rates on the day of flights) gets fixed. Very well written Matthew, perhaps somebody in management is listening… but I doubt it.
Find something else to do with your time. This constant complaining has to stop. I am going to re-direct to the other bloggers on this fantastic site.
@bill g: If you cannot tell the difference between concern and complaint, your time might be better spent on more rudimentary reading than upgrd.com.
@Dixie – What exactly what CO #1 in for so many years?
I flew United for 7 years prior to the 3/3 merger, and I have noticed from a customer point of view everything has gone down hill since 3/3. Lost reservations, unhelpful phone staff, upgrades no longer possible, rude and indefferent staff and almost every customer check point, reduced benefits, Terrible inediable meals in Domestic F. All this has been since 3/3 when CO started running United.
So what exactly was CO #1 in?
I have absolutely ZERO sympathy for the ex-Continental crews. You have lost NOTHING except for a stupid name. You got the crappy CEO, the crappy livery, the crappy logo, the insanely crappy SHARES reservation system, the crappy website, the crappy coffee, EVERYTHING. Continental was a vastly overrated airline before the merger wasn’t #1 in anything, except for PR spin. United was the #1 on-time airline before the merger and had the #1 frequent flyer program (that’s since been ruined thanks to $mi$ek) and flew widebodies on every single trans-oceanic flight while having First class on ALL of them.
I’m damn sick of the whiners from Continental, passengers and employees alike. It’s your service policies and management running this place into the ground and it’s the REAL United Airlines that is dead.
But Chris – U at UAL survived because of CAL’s world winning service and financial Prowess in the industry. Your bank Chase saved UAL most recently from demise because of their interest in return on investment with the UAL, Chase credit card. Then against CAL’s brightest leaders ideals, your bank Chase needed to put you together with a solid company in the industry, so here we are. Your demise was saved at CAL expense. UAL was on its last leg, that is common knowledge. All UAL aircraft parts used as collateral for 17% loans for survival? Realy? Burning the furniture to save the house. Welcome aboard.
Yes, it is a bit irksome to hear post-March 3 flight attendants make “Continental” announcements. However, the main problem here is that legacy Continental employees — flight attendants, telephone agents, supervisors, ground agents, etc. — have a very surly, “I don’t give a s**t”, or “take it or leave it” attitude towards their customers. Of course, this is speaking in broad strokes, and not to say that each and every employee is that way.
Legacy UA and its employees (again, speaking in broad strokes) took steps to smile, be proactive, and treat its customers with respect, regardless of whether they were first time flyers or seasoned GS. If something went wrong on a flight or someone treated me poorly, the vast majority of the time, UA always tried to make things right for me in one form or another.
Post March 3, the customer service from legacy CO employees is noticeably different than that from legacy UA employees. When so many FF are saying the same thing about the downgrade in service and treatment by the new post-merger UA, the problem is not with the customers.
Whatever the employees’ issues with management may be, if you continue to treat your customers in the manner you have been, your customers will take their business elsewhere and you will soon be in a position where you will not have any management to deal with — but only your local unemployment office.
AA and legacy UA have both sucked for many, many years!! Everybody knows that Continental was the premier US carrier for the last 15 years!! Passengers are always happy to see EXCON flight attendants working their flights!! Both our employees and our aircraft are both much nice than UAL’s!! Sorry if the truth hurts!!
I can’t blame the CO flight attendants, really. After years of watching that video telling them that they’re the “most professional men and women in the industry,” combined with arrogant leadership that has gone so far as to call other carriers names (Smisek said US Airways was the “ugly girl” and Gordon said United was “HIV positive.”)
Now they’ve been renamed into something that their culture of superiority believed must be lesser (and in fact one of their previous leaders said was HIV positive). It’s no surprise that some of them want to hold onto the “Continental” name. It’s not enough the globe is on the tail of all the planes now, and they’ve even gone so far as to put the evil globe on the stir stick of our drinks.
At this point, United has been destroyed, it’s just an announcement, if it makes them feel better about themselves, what’s the big deal?
I guess it’s subjective. You say “AA and UA sucked” – I guess it’s ralative. Compared to Asian, Australian, Middle East and European cariers ALL US airlines are terrible. In just aobout every measure US airlines are sub sub par – and that includes CO.
You say employees and aircraft are nicer. I can tell you every encounter I have had with CO staff is that they are rude and unhelpful. Also the First Class seats in domestic are hard as hell.
In what specific ways was CO the USA’s “premier carrier for 15 years”?
Matthew…I have the same questions that you do! This whole merger has been so frustrating to me and don’t understand the mentality that Continental was a better airline. As a 1K flyer, I do get upgraded quite a lot which is nice, but the service I receive from most Continental flight attendants is just plain rude…like they just don’t care. I feel like the United flight attendants were walking through the cabin throughout the flight whereas the Continental ones do the minimal of what they have to do and then go sit down to do crossword puzzles. If I got up to ask them for a drink of water, they made me feel like I was such an inconvenience to them. I have no idea where Continental got the reputation of having great customer service. I have had much better service over the years when flying United.
I just wish United would do something to give us frequent flyers confidence in this merger and not jump ship. Delta’s branding and ads sure make me want to fly them…United’s, not so much.
This ad really makes me want to switch…
This one is just wonderfully done…
Thank you all for your comments–I’ll respond to each one a bit later, but just want to make one point clear to all the ex-CO folks rushing to defend themselves.
If I ever heard a PMUA crew say something like “We’re a REAL United crew” I would be just as bothered…
I have been on 3 EWI-HNL or IAD-SFO-HNL flight since March and two of the times, I have heard the same thing from the cockpit crew about it being a CO flight. I actually even stopped on the ramp and asked the L1 FA what the heck and she smiled and said, it IS a CO flight. Now have a nice day. WTF? I really dont care if UA merged or CO merged or whatever. In all honesty, it boils down to everything wrong with the airline industry in the US. There is an incredible lack of professionalism and many positions in the airlines have a “we just need to get you from point A to point B” attitude. I suppose so. in a safe and professional manner is all I would love to add to that. I wish people would get over themselves, deal with it, accept it and move on and be a bit more professional. We are so concerned about passengers with the right mindset getting on planes, I question whether the mindset of the very people who should be keeping us safe is in the right place. Yes, I have been a 1k for over 5 years and a million mile flyer with UA. But I am also a Diamond flyer for JAL and sad to say, its like night and day when it comes to service, professionalism and comfort. Why dont everyone just agree to look at the next paycheck, and be loyal to the name on it instead of living in the past. Whats done is done and in the end, the very lifeline that sustains the lifestyle is the one getting screwed by petty immature unprofessional things like this. Thanks for flying CO? come on.
I think your comments are spot-on, Matthew.
Continental was the USA’s “Premier Airline”? ROFL. Too bad America’s “Premier Airline” only a few years back got the rights to fly into one of the most prestigious airports in the world, London Heathrow. America’s “Premier Airline” also has the majority of its international flights on cramped 757s and 737s that have to stop for fuel if there’s even the slightest breeze. America’s “Premier Airline” has never heard of International First Class, Economy Plus, seats that are made with foam padding rather than boulders, and branding and a livery that isn’t made out of clip art and that doesn’t make people vomit.
Continental was podunk regional airline that has had a very arrogant, toxic corporate culture. The Rah Rah Rah we’re better than you attitude from Continental makes being one of their ugly planes a very horrible experience. The Continental goon-squad needs a serious reality check and serious reprucussions for their insubordination. Jeff Smisek should be fired, as well, since he is an ineffective leader who promotes the arrogance and rudeness that has premated at Continental for FAR TOO LONG. Time to get the real United back.
I’m a 8-year 1K/Premier Exec United flier who lives in a CO fortress hub city…which gives me a particular view of this merger. I’ve not heard any of these announcements by ex-con flight crews on any of my United flights out of or in to Houston or anywhere else. I’ve heard of instances of them happening though. I’m frankly surprised that I’ve not heard them. (I’ve not heard similar announcements on the few flights that I’ve been on staffed by the former United crews either.)
I’ve not encountered major drama flying or at the airports since 3/3. I’ve not had long waits on the phone lines but I’ve found the amount of time it takes to resolve even simple issues over the phone to increase dramatically—calls that used to last three minutes are now 35 minute calls. I’ve seen my upgrades drop dramatically. Tickets bought on the united.bomb taking weeks to ticket and then only after multiple phone calls asking what the problem is–getting someone in a call center who does not have a dismissive attitude seems to be a challenge.
I’m not loving this merger but I am hanging on, for now at least. Very little that has happened as the merger has played out has surprised me and I didn’t have high expectations. The dramatic increase in ticket prices on United out of Houston are very likely to push me elsewhere next year. Ticket prices doubling can’t be explained entirely by the increase in the price of fuel. Mergers are about killing off the competition and sticking it to the consumer. (oh and the employees usually get the shaft too)
Update: Since originally writing this, I have heard this once on a flight LGA to IAH. When I received their little survey in the email, I voiced my displeasure with this practice in no uncertain terms.
As you can see in the above comments, the leadership at the top is classless, as well as arrogant. There is not now, and perhaps never a merger of minds, and spirit, and thereby this airline has the potential for failure. No thanks to This CEO Jeff Smisek. Yes, Smisek, you had a real opportunity to do something great by bringing everyone together, but no, your rude and arrogant childlike attitude have pissed off everyone, including the traveling public, active emplyoees, as well as your retiree group. You sir, need a major attitude adjustment because the hatred that exist in your rank and file is a trait that you brought with you to this so called merger.
Reading these comments make me laugh and then cry. It’s the lack of professionalism on BOTH sides of the fence that have created many of the problems the “new” United is facing.
The “management” team from Houston, led by Mr. Jeff Smisek seems to be clueless in managing the combined carriers and have made enough mistakes to fill a 777. Discounting the lack of compatibility of computer reservation systems and new policies that have alienated the core business passenger, it’s a basis lack of ability to lead people that’s causing the problems. It’s that plain and simple. Perhaps with a strike vote set by BOTH Continental and United pilots; opps, there we go again…separate employee groups, the tide may turn in that the BOD will be forced to replace the top management. We can only hope so !
In the meantime, Southwest has become the carrier of choice.
I love this! I have been on the New United original CAL flights and have heard the same B.S. Hey! Ex Cal crews…get a clue! The ONLY thing you have lost is the name Continental…United has lost everthing but it’s name (not to mention UAL employees lost all there pensions, and that was to enable UAL to BUY CAL!) Cal management is still running the airline…just being flown with a new name to you…so be professional, embrace it, come to terms with it and enjoy the moment. It is what it is, United. One more thing…Hey management, lets not forget who bought who. You are aware of what is taking place on these flights, you know the crews and the flight numbers FIX THE PROBLEM! It is NOT professional!
Thank you Matthew for understanding the plight of all United Airlines Employees & Retirees. We have all been thrown under the bus by ConU!
Perhaps if passengers on flights, dependant on where in the process this announcement occurs, began ringing the flight attendant call button or began getting up and collecting their belongings while indicating that they (the passenger) has made an error and got on the wrong flight, this habitual undercurrent would cease. it appears that management and supervisory personnel must not be adressing the situation with any effectiveness. If we all acknowledged that this is more than just a ‘post-merger error of habit’ but a ‘post-merger rejection of change’, there could be better service, more focus on the customer rather than self, and a productive way to ensuring the successful future of United Airlines.
I don’t know in what alternate reality Continental was #1, but this UA flyer has decamped to AA thanks to the atrocious Continental takeover of United in all but name.
To me, Continental was uncomfortable seats, bad food and worse coffee. Plus flight attendants who hid in the back of the plane and treated any customer who dared ask then for anything as an interruption from their oh-so-important copy of People magazine.
And now the UA attitude is all-but-gone, buried by the atrociously bad “new” computer system that need to be put out of its misery as soon as possible.
Please be sure you understand that the word Purser for Domestic United flight is no longer part of our vocabulary, pilots and FA operating manuals indicated the word Lead Flight Attendant. Purser is only used for S-UA International flights and for S-CO flight is International Service Manager!
matt, thanks for your article…it is whats going on, and this merger has been very turbulent indeed. There is far more going on than what you see on the outside, there are tons of issues on the inside. Feel free to friend me on FB, you can watch and read whats going on inside the new United.
Thank you for expressing this. Nice to know I’m not the only one who feels like this. It’s sad to read many UA loyal flyers are leaving to go to AA.
@EWRFA: Thanks–any idea why? Many legacy UA FAs still wear their purser badges. I prefer purser (and Chief Purser/Purser on 747-400s) to “lead FA” or “Int’l Service Manager.”
Hey Matt- you said it yourself “You have Continental folks running it, Continental’s SHARES PSS (passenger service system), Continental livery, the Continental website with the United label slapped over it, and really the Continental mindset of doing business.” So why not be PROUD and say CONTINENTAL! Besides the new name and our BF service now getting smaller to be the same as sUA – nothing much has changed at sCO! Not a joint contract, not seniority integration, not being able to fly with our new sUA family, still wearing different uniforms= so WE ARE SEPERATE and WE ARE PROUD!! Since YOU even said most things are Continental, why are YOU getting your panties in a bunch? How do you think I feel when my whole career went from CO to UA overnight because they have more worldwide recognition.. If that is your biggest gripe then good for you, others have bigger issues to worry about, like the WAR, job protection, and hub(airline base) opening and closures.. So Welcome aboard the flight that apparently had the cheapest seats for you, is what should really be said.. Just saying..
And Mitch-Post Number 30, for your information, my payroll check still says CONTINENTAL, not United…. So I do look at my check and CO is still paying me…
@EWR International FA: I find your attitude showcases everything that is wrong with the new UA.
Your “welcome aboard the flight that apparently had the cheapest seats for you” line is offensive to this multi-year 1K who drops thousands of dollars on United tickets each year and goes out of his way to fly UA (and probably flies about as much as you do).
Your sour attitude is exactly what is turning many PMUA elites away from what was once a great airline. It’s why I always do my best to avoid Newark…
I have to laugh at all the “loyal” UA customers who have jumped ship to a bankrupt airline. Good luck to you.
But neither of us will be laughing if all these passengers fleeing United lead to “redundancy” cuts at UA and FAs like you find themselves furloughed…
And the loyal UA customers have arguably never lost their UA loyalty–they simply are not loyal to CO or it’s penny-wise, pound-foolish polices that have attacked the new airline.
Carol Walsh is one of those proud idiots chanting the CO mantra. She has the gall to ignore passengers opinions, yet opines here telling others how they should think. Usually when I hear that line from a co crew, I brace myself for a crappy unfriendly service to follow!
You are a Liar Mathew,
You are a disgruntled employee period!!
And we ALL can see it!
@Schmeg: Oh, okay.
Based on comments made by current and former Continental management Smisek said US Airways was the “ugly girl” and Gordon said United was “HIV positive” it’s not surprising that the former Continental employees have this poor attitude. Someone should put a muzzle on Gordon “buffoon.” what an insensitive moron, comparing an airline to a HIV? One sounds like a bully, the other homophobic. The “ex-con” reference alone is disturbing, why would someone want to associate themselves with former prisoners?
I fly out of IAH and pre merger went out of my way to fly on United, connecting through IAD or ORD, because of their exceptional service. Their customer service and flight attendants are the best in the industry. It’s unfortunate that the leaders have chosen ex-con over the friendly skies
I have been with United Airlines for 35 years and come from the old school-you put a smile on your face and graciously act (whether you do or not) like you like doing your job-if you don’t then you should leave. Your passengers should never know the downside of the business. End of story.
Diane, thank you so much for your comment. You are a class-act and a stark contrast to your many new colleagues from Continental (and sometimes United). Thanks for chiming in and I would love to fly with you in the future.
Which is it? “My Dear Colleagues from Continental Airlines,..” or customer?
Last time I checked colleague meant to work together. That opening line is inaccurate. My question to you is why does it bug you so much that these people have a lot of pride in the company where they worked for a significant amount of time? You are not a colleague of theirs. You haven’t spent years of your life working in that industry. Why do their concerns occupy your mind?
It concerns me because I hear it on a weekly basis! And Continental Airlines is dead. Gone. Now United. Why can’t you call your airline what it is? Why do you have to annoy frequent flyers from PMUA and confuse irregular flyers by continuing to use Continental?
When I fly as much as you do, I consider myself part of the family–at least that’s what legacy UA FA’s and pilot’s have told me. Hence, the name colleagues. Continental FAs–not all but many–look at me as a leech instead, a person they must tolerate while serving a meal to (then disappear for the rest of the flight)but not anyone that merits respect, even though the thousands of dollars I spend on UA tickets each year help to pay their salaries.
Saying “CO this, CO that” shows me an attitude of selfishness–it’s all about you, not about those you serve.
My paycheck and contract still say CONTINENTAL. Maybe when that changes we will be happy to address our employer by the name UNITED.
I have heard this numerous times myself (I work for United, so I already know which crew is working the flight). All I can think about is how confusing it is for the passengers who don’t fly much and don’t live anywhere where this is news. Their ticket says UNITED but on the plane they are saying Continental. Yes, it is true the OLD United has gone “cheap” in terms of its products, I am embarrassed most of the time by the NEW United. I am also scared by the way management is running our company into the ground. It makes matters worse for us too that the NEW United cannot figure out how to pay us properly and we are continually fighting with them about incorrect pay checks. But my paycheck says UNITED so maybe that’s the difference.
@R W DC: Seriously? Just because they are exhausting old checks first or not wasting glasses they say “Continental Airlines” you think you still work for Continental?
@FedUp: Thanks for your perspective. I wish you the best as United struggles to find its post-merger identity.
Wow! As a former bank employee who worked thru several mergers, I can honestly say that I understand and sympathize with everyone’s frustrations and worries on both sides of this fence. But these things happen in business ALL THE TIME. The fact of the matter is that Continental is now United. F/A’s should serve with good grace and loyalty to their new company and above all BE PROFESSIONAL OR feel free to exercise their right to leave and find another employer that they CAN feel loyal to.
Old checks…its direct deposit…via Continental. I have a Continental contract and a Continental employee number. I even have work rules for Continental employees which are different than the work rules for United employees. I even have benefits on other airlines that United employees can’t use and vice versa. This is all internal division that exists and will exist for a long time to come. So as much as everyone would like to say that it’s simply “United” there are divisions in place, by management on this very day.
Thanks Matt for your very insightful comment. Hopefully this will pass, and some true professionalism will prevail. Thanks for flying us and maybe I’ll see you on a flight lol
ps yes, it’s very painful seeing our tulip U and so many other UAL stamps disappear, but life goes on and we continue to do what we do to keep our passengers coming back
This customer should remain that a “customer.” He is to naive to understand the mechanics of a merger. Being the “top” company, who is bringing brought down, one who was in touch by the “true” continental would have a complaint. It is sad that someone who is not so in touch with what co had to offer would ever post some sort of complaint. When he is not a co elite. I would love for this traveller to speak with co’s elite to ask them what has changed? And for the co elite response… Ya, you know what it would be nothing positive about the changes that have gone on. So I ask you to educate yourself before you write such want to be publish anti-airline bullshit that you clearly know nothing about. So why don’t you just sit back in your “united” premium seat pay for your 7- cocktail and call it a day!
All I know is as a United FA I receive not 1, but 3 different paychecks twice a month from the “new” United. And honestly I can’t even understand ANY of them most of the time….never had an issue pre-merger. Pretty much indicative of the ENTIRE post-merger operation. I see NOTHING of United of old…and yes, we did and still do give great inflight service with the limited resources and internal corporate B.S. that swirls around us on a daily basis. Old United wasn’t perfect by far but truly the post-merger is trainwreck on so many levels. Cheap and cheesy sorry to say….and really, I FEEL like saying thanks for flying Continental—because United didn’t operate this way!
@Gwendolyn: I am sure there are a few Gwendolyn’s at UA, but if you happen to be the FRA-based one, I’ve flown with you before and appreciate your caring service and great attitude. And if you’re not, I sure hope to fly with you in the future.
@Sheenfa: Said like a bitter CO FA! All I am going to say is that I wish you will read my blog in the future–I’d love to have you as a reader. For if you read my blog, you’ll see I know all about this merger, have held elite status on Continental since 2010, and know that with minor exceptions CO elites have seen added benefits while UA elites have seen a drawback in service.
@A: Thanks for your perspective. I agree with your statement, “Old United wasn’t perfect by far but truly the post-merger is trainwreck on so many levels.”
@ TIM RC, Anderson- very well said and straight to the point. US carriers have a lot to learn from their Asian/European counterparts. Btw, as a FA for UA, I noticed a lot of changes are being adopted from Continental, inflight and on the ground. Some good, some bad. I wouldn’t call that a Merger, more an acquisition by Continental.
With all change comes adjustment. It was touted as a merger of equals, and I whole heartedly agree, Matthew, it seems the Continental side was a lot more equal, despite the fact that United had more revenue, more planes, more routes and more employees. I have to say, from my viewpoint, United was in need of an overhaul in their management department. Hopefully the company will find its sride soon.
As a non-customer contact legacy UA employee for over 34 years this bitterness of the ex-con FAs a pilots scares me. I like my job and am not in a position to change it or retire, but if the customer contact employees scare off to many customers with their attitude I could end up on unemployment through not fault of my own. Please remember that you are representing all 80,000 of your fellow employees. And not a one of us wants to lose on this merger.
At least the sCO employees still have a pension!
As a sCO mechanic not involved in much PR or direct customer interaction if any and this is mainly directed at my fellow co workers of UNITED! sCOandsUA …. The first thing id like to say is that its quite embarrassing,for lack of a better word , to see grown adults both sCO AND sUA side , publicly announce their bitterness like this. And im talking about our FA’s that say CO or the REAL UNITED crap. Sporting the pins and having excon keychains is not such a big thing to me because its just a symbol of pride in where we came from or a conversation piece amongst others when sitting around in a lobby or something… but being as these announcements are directed AT … and made FOR the customers…. (you know them folks that my familys livelihood and mine AND YOURS are dependent on.) I feel a sense of pride going to work for a company (ANY COMPANY- especially a succesful one) and doing what i can to make that company thrive. it drives someone to go above and beyond when you hear or see others that do things right and to the best of their abilities. there are no SIDES… all this blabber about years ago or pre merge stats and who was number one and shit are pointless. both airlines at one time were SHIT and not profitable and had layoffs. we are all working for the same company now…. none of us want a disgruntled passenger to come and blog about their complaints or even worse to get bitter enough to go out their way … pay a couple bucks more (or hell … maybe find a better deal along the way) to fly another carrier just out of spite or principle about the way WE are behaving or treating them. Ive heard alot of complaints from loyal customers of UA and alot of complaints from loyal customers of CO…. in hou there are many….. but regardless… they always have something to do with the way customers are getting treated WORSE post merge because of the apparent FAs or Pilots disgruntled attitude on the merge. ive even heard fellow employees getting serious rude treatment and ignorance from sUA UNITED because they find out that the person is a sCO employee… WHAT THE HELL? do you realize the immaturity that shows? do you realize thats the same employee that is in charge of the same seat you will be flying on one day or the same employee that is in charge of maintaining in safe operation of the big metal thing ur life is depending on working properly? i just cannot believe how immature we as a company are behaving. seniortiy is seniority….. if someone has been working longer than YOU then they will be getting that job bid location or the coveted legs…. soon you will be back in that same spot you want just like u got there the first time. being bitter is only going to make it worse for everyone. it will not show people that you have strong sense of pride or that you are some sort of bad asss for being loyal to the company that you used to work for. united is a name we adopted and the logo is too…. i only hope this nonsense stops immediately and this time to heal wounds shit is nipped in the bud because before you know it… your frown and your shit attitude will have reached enough people to make our operation and company goals ultimately fail… if you see this type of crap… please kindly remind them of that fact and ask them what they are hoping to accomplish by rejecting something that ALREADY HAPPENED. we have great leaders… and we have not so great ones…. but our leadership should not have any responsibility, other than lacking consequences for the employees who remain wanting to go against the grain, for the attitude you reflect upon your fellow employees and more importantly the customers. its mind boggling to me when i see my fellow employees encourage others and even go as far as saying “it makes my day to see” when fellow co workers make known their immaturity and see them so determined to create an unnecessary friction amongst each other to the point where passengers are getting affected and concerned about. you are destroying the morale and eventually our company will go to shit if this is allowed to continue or escalate. sCO and sUA aren’t gangs you are apart of and need to cut down each other. we are trying to keep these customers in our seats and get them to A to B so that your wife and my kids can have food on the table and health benefits to keep us healthy. CUT THE SHIT! YOU ARE MAKING US ALL LOOK STUPID. having felt the need to write is also making us look unprofessional and stupid as well im sure. but hopefully it gets at least 1 of us to change and make an effort to be like BRENDA in any of our positions… because thats the ONLY thing this blog is really capable of changing in reality. remember that what you say and how u treat others… goes A LONG way whether u can see it or not. so lets stop making NEGATIVE actions and start making positive ones. maybe somehow this merge that all of us cringed at happening …. becomes a future mark in our success timeline and not become beginning of our demise. YOUR ethics in all our departments are going to be the determining factor on the outcome of the merge. so please and thanks.
I concur with your sentiments. I am an American Airlines Flight Attendant since 1998. We have been through our share of mergers and acquisitions; however, we must never forget that we were hired to represent our airline with pride and professionalism. The division of work groups is never an effective strategy. Carol, if your fellow CAL Crew Members want to make an impression, they should step up to the plate and put their training to good use.
I don’t know why everyone is worried about employees saying the right or wrong things to passengers….
According to CEO Jeffery Smisek, support from labor is not required for this merger…
He’s in charge, so shouldn’t his lead be followed? Right from the top… Labor doesn’t matter. So no need to worry how the front line employes treat the passengers. All will be well regardless.
i came across this site when desperately trying to find out how to contact anyone who can help me. my mother, and from some of these posts half of you weren’t even around in the sixties worked for Continental Airlines, which we all refered to as “brass ass”, the plane with the golden tail. my mom worked from 1964 until her retirement in 1980/81 when Mr. Six sold to Lorenzo, yes I know all about how Lorenzo took Continental apart, busted the unions and more. now it’s 2013, my mother died in 1991, my brother took all paperwork she had, he passed 5 months later with no one knowing where any of her paperwork has gone. I am her only daughter and trying to find out any info from United is worst then pulling teeth. it has been over 20 years since she died, but what do you do when you were told nothing as a young adult, and someone else threw away the paperwork on her. trying to get through to some of these numbers is awful. I keep repeating the story and they keep giving me another number to try, I get told well we took over in 1997, we don’t have paperwork that goes back that far, what was her employee number? how in the hell would I know. I have her social number, here name, the address where she lived, nothing. I call number after number its automated, with no way to speak with a real person. my mother loved Continental Airlines, she was a union steward, and worked in cabin service, which they no longer have and now with the new genereation they have no clue what it is. they ask is that the ramp employee, reservations, no CABIN SERVICE you know clean the inside of the plane after landing and before new passengers get on. my mom transferred almost yearly, until we settled in Houston in 1971. all I want to know is how do I find out ANY info, about life insurance, pension (which I was told if she had one it would go to her spouse, funny they were divorced. I can’t get anywhere. it’s hard to figure with all this computer tech we can’t seem to find one person. and then there are all of you, Continental in it’s day beat out ANY airline in customer service,pilots, FA the whole lot. united was second to continental as were the others. all I want and need is info about my ma. Her last remaining sister, spoke with me a few weeks back and asked if I had ever gotten her life insurance. No don’t have the paperwork, can’t find any answers from anyone, and all you people have to rant about is who is saying what and when. grow the heck up. I am asking if anyone knew my mom RUTH RADETSKI WORKED CABIN SERVICE FROM APPROX 1964/65 UNTIL 1980/81 WHEN SHE RETIRED. SHE STARTED IN CHICAGO, THEN TO CALIFORNIA, AND FINALLY SETTELED IN HOUSTON. IF ANY OF YOU CAN GET PAST YOUR CHILDISH ATTITUDES, AND REALLY READ THIS AND KNOW ANYTHING THAT CAN HELP ME, PLS EMAIL ME email@example.com, can’t get any info from the union, hell I don’t even think I speaking to the same union she was in. I don’t know. all I know is I need some help finding any info, the name of union for cabin service in the sixties, how can I call to get some answers. I have none. and with the medical issues I have I could use the life insurance that I am now told by her sister that I was beneficiary of, but can’t find any info any where. all I’m asking for is some help. So if any of you can remember or know anything please help a fellow Continental Airlines loyal employee now deceased to get some info or closure. thanks to all of you. and as for what is being said and where, that’s all small crap and we should have much more important things to concentrate on then little kid stuff. just saying. thank you again for any help.
I am sick and tired of ex-continental employees taking it out on us on the United side. Whenever I fly from TPA to DEN the gate agent sticks me in a crappy seat even though I am #1 and sometimes #2 on the stand by list. Do they think I am stupid? I can see what is going on thanks to the United app. Sorry you have a chip on your shoulder but don’t take it out on me. And I agree that all United got to keep was her name so what is Continental complaining about.
It’s now more than 2 years after this thread started, and nothing much has changed. Sigh.
The only thing United about this airline is that everyone hates Jeff.
The merger of United and Continental proves without doubt that bigger is not better. Airlines have been on a race to the bottom since airline deregulation opened the floodgates of cut-throat competition back in the ’80s. Since then, we have seen nothing but more and more consolidation in the industry while customer service and on-board amenities have rapidly declined to unacceptable levels.
When the two airlines announced merger plans, the writing was on the wall. I decided it was better to end 40+ years of loyal service with United and to retire with dignity and peace of mind rather than put myself through the gut wrenching upheaval that employees at both carriers are experiencing today. It’s not the fault of workers that a culture clash exists between the old and the new. It’s the fault of top management at this new entity who make the decisions that cause the problems.
So whenever you fume at paying additional fees for barely acceptable service, or having only a few major air carriers to choose from, or at encountering unhappy or surly employees, or having to connect from city to city to reach your final destination, thank the politicians and business interests who pushed for airline deregulation. Everything we see wrong about airline travel today has roots going back to that fateful decision.
So you’re an expect in the aviation biz and you didn’t understand and got upset by this. Perhaps you need to find another industry. You clearly do comprehend the passion of the airline business.
Interesting looking back more than a decade now. While many initially perceived that it was Continental Airlines simply renamed “United”, in practicality that turned out not to be the case. The “Continental culture’ was stomped out by strong personalities on the leadership side of United. Jeff Smisek, had no people skills or leadership skills, so he let those strong personalities prevail, while many senior Continental managers left for Delta and other opportunities. Just one dysfunctional result was to effectively run two parallel airlines for nearly 8 years, as there was inadequate leadership to merge the flight attendant groups. While the official business entity filed with the SEC is Continental Airlines which simply changed the name of that entity to United Airlines, and the surviving FAA Operating Certificate is that of Continental Airlines, unfortunately little else identifiable remains of Continental. In more recent years, there are many smart moves that management made, but also some very foolhardy ones. Hundreds of millions were spent to make the Polaris upgrade, and then watch item by item, amenities and quality service withdrawn. While the bean counters see nothing but balance sheets and stock price, the quality of the product is a skeleton of what it once was. And I believe the insistence of advocating a “woke” culture and policies at the airline are a detriment and distraction to the primary business at hand…
Good analysis Chuck.