The Perfect Wedding? Will United Airlines and US Airways pull up their socks when Continental joins Star Alliance?

Note: This is a guest article by Darren Dunn

I love Fall weddings! The bustle of summer is gone and the holidays are still a distant thought. You can relax and enjoy the ceremony letting your thoughts turn to the blissful life ahead for the new couple. Even bridesmaid dresses look good against mesh of Fall colors in the background.

So why am I so disappointed about Continental taking their vows and joining the Star Alliance family on October 27th? It is the one time in my life I want to be the guy who stands up on a pew and shouts.. “Stop the Wedding”.

Star Alliance is clearly marrying up as Continental has the best product and service of all the major US carriers. Customers flying in on carriers such as Singapore and Air New Zealand can finally connect on a domestic Star Alliance Member (Continental) who knows that product, service, and accountability are the cornerstones of delivering on brand promise.

My chief concern about the pending union is the domestic company Continental will be keeping with United and USAir. I can’t imagine a greater disparity in service. I relayed my concerns to a Continental representative at a recent industry trade show to which they responded, “Well, we are hoping that our joining Star Alliance will help bring the level of service up on the other US partners.” Speaking from personal experience, if I had a dollar for every person I know that hoped their partner habits and quirks would change after the vows. I’d be a rich man. As a frequent traveler moving to a United hub, I pray this partnership will be the exception to the rule.

The good news for United customers is they will be able to use their status when flying on Continental. Premier members will find out all the things they are missing like automatic upgrades, the newest fleet of planes, and having your luggage be first off the plane. The commitment to excellence extends beyond the first class cabin to once extinct amenities like free meals at meal time, pillows, blankets, and direct TV. The brand promise begins at check-in, continues to the back of the plane, and onto the luggage carousel before you leave. Like the Virgin brands, they don’t forget their job is to create an exceptional experience.

Great brands create an emotional response and nothing creates emotions better than a wedding. With that in mind, a wise person once shared the following advice with me. “The most important thing to remember about a planning a wedding is that the Big Day isn’t about you. It’s about the people who are experiencing it with you. Focus on making the people comfortable and happy, yes even that embarrassing uncle.. and the day will be perfect.”

Darren Dunn is currently Director of Sales at WorldMate Inc. The World’s leading travel management application for smart phones. He has spent 13 years in the online marketing space working with destinations and travel suppliers around the globe. He flies about 150,000 + miles a year and appreciate airlines that are passionate about service and culture.

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Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam is the CEO of SimpliFlying and a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought-leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior aviation executives globally, from Chile to Canada and from Sydney to San Francisco.Shashank's perspectives have found their way into major media outlets, including CNN Travel, CNBC, MSNBC, Bloomberg UTV, Mashable and in leading publications like Airline Business, ATW, Aviation Week, and others.Shashank studied Information Systems Management and Business Management at Singapore Management University and Carnegie Mellon University. Hailing from India, he splits his time between Singapore and Vancouver, among other cities.
Shashank Nigam
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Showing 6 comments
  • Martin J
    Reply

    great article.. Continental belongs with Singapore, Air New Zealand, Lufthansa and even BMI but not USAirways….yuck!
    quick dilemma question:
    I m a flier who loves Continental and flies United reluctantly. I have frequent flier programs with both. My United program topped up by flights with Singapore and Air New Zealand is Premier Executive – with Continental I am lowest tier.
    My dilemma is which program to maintain and start using? CO or UA? Advice please?
    Thank you
    Martin

    • simpliflying
      Reply

      Interesting dilemma indeed. Since Continental is a better airline indeed,
      I'd suggest you start accruing on them, once your United mileage program
      year lapses. That way, you don't lose your United status prematurely, and
      start accruing CO miles for the next year as well. Good luck!

    • darrendunn
      Reply

      Thank you for your comments. After the 1st of the year, call the Continental Elite program and ask if they will give you equal status to your United Premier Status. They will require you show proof of status on United by sending a photocopy of your elite card, driver's license, and mileage plus statement. Once they review this they will provide you with equal status (Platinum Elite) on Continental for the year. During this time use your Continental Platinum number when flying Star Alliance Partners. I hope many people do this as Continental should be rewarded for the great service they provide. The benefit to you is that you will have high elite status on two airlines for one year. Safe Travels – Darren Dunn

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