Listeners to our podcast know that I believe a Continental-United merger is in the works and Tilton’s latest pontification just confirms in my mind that the next airline merger will involve Continental and United.
In addition to the reciprocal frequent flyer benefits being introduced later this year for UA and CO elites, the lack of overlap in the Continental and United route maps makes a merger between the two airlines very attractive.
Take a look:
courtesy of United Airlines
courtesy of Continental Airlines
One problem, of course, is the varying (dare I say diametrically opposed) condition of labor relations between the two airlines. Without generalizing too much, UA employees hate their management and CO employees love their management. It would be shame if a combined airline led to both CO and UA employees hating their management.
My prediction is a combined airline under the United name will be run by Continental’s leadership. This is easier said than done, though: I’m fairly certain Glen Tilton places himself among the ranks of Hamlet and Macbeth as a tragic hero who is not really understood and who believes he will one day be redeemed in the eyes of his peers. Unfortunately for him, I think Tilton has done far too much damage in the area of labor relations at United to ever redeem himself.
Having said all that (and I know I’ve been sounding like a UA apologist lately), United has really stepped up their game the last year. Interior cabins have been refreshed, the new international seats are a spectacular improvement, meal choices have improved on domestic routes, and UA has invested in the future by ordering 50 new aircraft. Plus, the FAs have been great the last few months. With only a few exceptions, service on UA has met and often exceeded all of my expectations. That’s saying a lot.
All that to say that Glen will not go out quietly. There are accomplishments he can point to and the fact that he is making news about airline mergers tells me that he wants a prominent place at the table if UA and CO do end up getting married.
In the meantime I’ll just sit back and wait, while enjoying the perks of an improved United and reciprocal benefits on Continental. For all you OneWorld and SkyTeam flyers: you don’t what you’re missing!