DelWest and ContUnited?

Looks like Delta and Northwest are about to sign the prenup, and Continental and United are making googly eyes at each other across the bar. (Thanks to The Consumerist for the metaphor.)

In fact, I jest about airline names. The word is that the merged airline will be called Delta. I favor this for purely sentimental reasons: I like the vintage Fly Delta Jets sign at the Atlanta airport.

And the speculation is that a merged Continental – United airline would be called United. But the AP, citing an industry analyst, says that "Wall Street prefers Continental’s management team."

So do I. When it comes to how the airlines have treated economy class passengers over these many lean years, United and Continental stand at almost opposite ends of the spectrum. 

United stuffs passengers into some of the most cramped seats in the industry unless they pay extra for more leg room. It also has taken a fair amount of criticism for cuts in customer service and recently announced a fee for checking a second bag on domestic flights. (More on the bag fee tomorrow).

Continental seems to have tried to maintain better standards, and is the only remaining airline among the Big Six that includes food in any of its domestic coach fares.

That might help explain why, among the Big Six airlines, Continental had the lowest rate of consumer complaints filed against it and United had the highest, according to the latest Air Travel Consumer Report. (Several low-cost carriers, including Southwest, scored even better.)

Of course, as the Big Six airlines merge down to the Big Four, there’s no reason to think that the plight of the coach class traveler will improve. But let’s at least hope that the more humane practices toward passengers and employees will prevail.


One thought on “DelWest and ContUnited?

  1. Ken

    Its obvious that a merged Delta and Northwest Airlines should be called Delta. Delta has a better reputation than Northwest for service, employee relations, business practices, and more. I should know – I’m married to a Northwest Airline employee and have a cousin who works for Delta Airlines. Delta is also a much more global name. Northwest implies a restricted distribution, as if it only goes to the northwest.
    So please tell me why a merger between United and Continental should be called United? Just like Northwest, United has a bad reputation – for customer service, for employee relations. In addition, lets face it, the name Continental seems much more global than United. United what?
    Perhaps I’m just jaded. I’ve been flying Continental since 1991, almost exclusively since 1999 and have been a OnePass Elite Member since 2001. There’s a reason I consistently choose Continental over and over again – and I’m just afraid it will all go down the tubes as I’m suddenly forced to fly “United Airlines”. As one person commented – the only way a United Continental merger will be successful is if Continental takes over United airplanes and routes but fires all its employees. I know that is a bit extreme, but unless a merged Continental and United can live up to the Continental I know, I prefer they stay single.


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