Continental has been one of the few major carriers to consistently turn a profit. They do so not with offshoring their calling centers (ahem, United) but by listening closely to what their frequent flyers have to say.
They still serve free meals on domestic flights, and all call centers are US based. Their airport clubs (Free access with AMEX Plat) are top-notch, offering free wi-fi and alcoholic beverages that most others charge for.
Continental’s Onepass mileage program has been getting more generous of late, and now only trails AA in terms of standard reward availability. It also contains bargains like 70,000 mile coach tickets/100,000 BusinessFirst tickets to Israel. Reward availability is even better for elite members.
Continental has a dedicated employee who takes the time to post online about new initiatives and program changes, and makes sure that any problems reported by flyers online are resolved.
The entire executive team spends a couple days every year meeting up with an online focus group of frequent flyers to discuss the issues and give them a behind the scenes look at the airline.
Odds and ends learned and various program changes that came out of this year’s meeting:
-Ability to standby on the day of departure for International BusinessFirst mileage upgrades. Until now this was only possible to/from Hawaii. They haven’t done this until now due to the fear of phantom bookings, and Continental said they will cancel the program if the system is abused…
-Addition of a million-mile elite club. This will be based on actual flown miles, like Delta and United. It will be retroactive for all previous flown miles.
-There are no current plans to “spin-off” the Onepass mileage program a la Air Canada.
-Mileage rates will be going up later this month for select routes…
-Continental will not have an economy-plus section like United’s.
-Continental will start filling middle seats from the back of the plane towards the front.
-Continental’s 787’s will be 9 seats across in a 3-3-3 configuration and a 17.5″ seat width.
-Continental plans to fly to Sydney at some point with the 787.
-Continental will open the first airline club in Las Vegas, in the 2nd quarter of 2008.
-Air France awards can now be booked online-more Skyteam partners to come.
-Airplane internet access is coming soon. VOIP will probably be blocked.
-You will soon be able to use part of an electronic travel certificate and keep the residual value.
-Priority standby for elites coming soon.
-US Airways exiting Pittsburgh was a major catalyst for the planned 40% expansion of the Cleveland hub.