I took my first “post merger” (announcement) Continental flight, BOS-IAH today. So far, not quite there yet.
First, the upgrade queues are not merged yet, so as a UAL customer, I’m at the back of the list. An uncomfortable place to be (literally) as I didn’t even manage to score their equivalent of an economy plus seat. Star alliance gold is the highest status Continental recognizes from UAL, which is pretty far down the list. I was about 8 for 2 spaces on the way out and this time much close, 2 for 1 space. No advance upgrades for UAL customers.
The BOS Club is attractive, but they have less goodies than the BOS RCC. Currently serving beer and wine only, and a few packaged snacks. The Presidential club is also effectively berift of outlets, so don’t plan to charge your devices there. It is probably easier to find an outlet in the concourse. I spent 10 years lobbying UAL for more outlets in RCCs, and each club remodel has brought more. Continental does win on wifi – just connect and go; no password hassle at all.
The IAH club is nice than BOS: fewer work pods but more comfortable seating and a few comfortable seats with outlets. The feature that Continental brought to UAL is free well drinks (not open wifi :-( The feature UAL is going to bring to continental clubs is no entry for amex platinum cards (starting late winter).
Continental charges $6 to watch their stupid DirectTV feed. Live broadcast TV is just as hopeless on a plane as it is on the ground. The days of people staying home to make sure they catch their favorite shows are long over, let alone hoping something happens to be on while you’re on a plane. That’s a minus.
The seat power seems to work right, that’s a plus. United has implemented Empower 110V 60hz plug in seat power, but they seem to have consistently derated it so you can’t run a 90W power supply on it for more than a few minutes without tripping the breaker. I like the old KID DC systems better – I have no problems with my W500 on them. But the Astronics 1215 systems on UAL planes seem to be cut back to about 75W per seat (this can be done via a 1176 AMCU, but I haven’t verified this yet).
Apparently the merger is supposed to get a little close to complete by the end of next year. Until then, I’ll preferentially fly connecting UAL flights over direct continental ones, at least long-haul. Once the merger is complete it’ll be nice to have such a large network with full elite privileges. Now if only we could merge Lufthansa and bring their culinary standards along…