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