Chicago's O'Hare International Airport was the first to see United Continental's new look, combining Continental's blue and gray globe logo with United's name. The rebranding is one of the first public steps in a process that is expected to end in a year (if all goes as planned), fusing the former competitors into a single airline called United. The combined company is now the United States' largest airline by traffic, jumping ahead of Delta Air Lines Inc. which took the top spot in 2008 after acquiring Northwest.
While there is still a long road ahead, the company wants its customers to feel like it's already a single airline.
The alignment of airport procedures, particularly for our most loyal customers, and the rebranding of our operations at our hometown airport are the newest visible signs of the successful integration of United and Continental, said Jeff Smisek, United's president and chief executive officer. We are making significant progress as we create the world's leading airline, and customers are experiencing more of these benefits as they travel.
So what are some of the changes? Here's a quick look:
United Continental Holdings Inc. revealed on Wednesday that passengers can now look for flights on either carrier's website when traveling on Continental or United.
Kiosks in 90 airports are equipped to handle customer check-in for both carriers. The rebranding at other airports across the airlines' global network will continue in the coming months.
Members of the two carriers' frequent-flier programs, United Mileage Plus and Continental's OnePass, are now able to link their accounts and combine miles, viewing their statements side by side on one screen.
On May 1, both airlines received the same menu for food purchases in coach.
The company repainted nearly 40% of the combined fleet. That's around 520 aircraft makeovers.
While still operating under separate certificates from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Chicago-based company hopes to receive a single operating certificate by the year's end, allowing the aircraft and crew to follow a singular regime for operation. However, employee integration may prove the most difficult hurdle in the massive merger as new contracts are reached. Furthermore, the crew must choose which of the unions they want to serve them.
At this stage, much of the change has been cosmetic. However, the company hopes to assure passengers that a transformation is under way.