CLE Is Dehubbed; The Continental-United Merger Has Brought Nothing But Misery To All

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In perhaps the worst CLE news since LeBron’s decision, United will officially announce tomorrow that it is de-hubbing Cleveland.

It’s no surprise.  I said 4 years ago,

Finally, I see little hope for Cleveland to remain a hub. Continental and United currently have hubs in Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, S. Francisco, and Washington DC.

There is a compelling argument to keep pretty much all of those hubs in place except Cleveland. United already abandoned their hub in Cleveland hub back in 80′s. I’ll bet that United ditches Cleveland once again if this merger is completed.

And now United will ditch Cleveland for a 2nd time.  United had agreed not to cut the hub for a few years in exchange for Ohio’s attorney general not opposing the merger but that agreement is mostly expired.  Nonstop destinations served from Cleveland will be cut from 58 to 20. The number of daily flights will be cut from 199 to 72.  Full details can be found here.

But this is hardly the first negative outcome of the Continental-United merger.

Passengers from both the pre-merger Continental and United side hate what has become of both airlines. It’s pretty much a mix of the worst policies from both.

Just a small taste of the merger pain and why mergers are never good for consumers:
-Points can no longer be transferred from AMEX to Continental like they used to before the merger.
-The AMEX Platinum card stopped allowing access to clubs like they to for Continental before the merger.
-United didn’t use to charge an award expedite fee but that came back with the merger.
-While Starnet blocking may be gone, United.com is progressively getting worse, no longer displaying award space for Brussels, LOT Polish, or Singapore.  People don’t even realize that award tickets to places like Israel are easily bookable, but that it requires doing their own research on other websites. In fact Singapore awards to the US aren’t even bookable over the phone for now. They even lied and said that it was a mutual decision with Singapore when Singapore said it was solely United’s decision.
-Clubs have lost most of the free alcohol that Continental used to offer before the merger.
-Free date changes on awards that Continental used to offer are gone.
-Continental’s backend system was kept (as it was already paid for) which have wreaked havoc on operations and has frustrated elite customers who have to split off travel companions from their itinerary in order to be upgraded. However that process causes the travel companions to lose out on the benefits of being linked to an elite member.
-United recently won a lawsuit so that they don’t have to give expressly promised benefits to million milers like a couple of annual confirmed domestic upgrades that cost United next to nothing. Talk about winning the battle but losing the war against your best customers.
-Award charts, especially around-the-world and first class awards have been devalued on a scale never seen before.  And they are now more confusing than ever before with split charts for partner airlines.
-United has been unprofitable since the merger even while other airlines turn huge profits.
-Corporate clients have been fleeing to other airlines as merger related operational issues plagued United. And speaking of being penny-wise and pound foolish United has been alienating some corporate clients by not awarding them PQDs on tickets booked through corporate travel agencies even though the tickets can still cost thousands of dollars. PQDs were added by Delta and copied by United in 2014 as a way to make sure that customers spent thousands of dollars on ticket in addition to flying tens of thousands of miles in order to earn elite status.

CEO Jeff Smisek has run two proud airlines into the ground. He’s now infamous for promising passengers changes that they’re going to like while continuing to erode passenger loyalty and operate at net losses. Can anyone explain how he is still at the helm?

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16 Comments On "CLE Is Dehubbed; The Continental-United Merger Has Brought Nothing But Misery To All"

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Beachwood fan

that’s so sad!!! I am flying twice a month NYC – CLE. I’m literally crying about it!! Now I have to pay the on insane prices again!! Let’s do a Yom Tfila :/

Donor

So AA and US also stink, no elite that flies UA likes Delta, so who’s left? UA knows this so it’s tough luck for all Americans that want good service and a good FF program. They no longer exist anywhere, which is why we need YOU, Dan to mitigate as much as possible. Fight on!!!

SrulyP

“People don’t even realize that award tickets to places like Israel are easily bookable, but that it requires doing their own research on other websites.”

I know this is explained to death, but can someone point me in the right direction.

Dan fan

Hey Dan odd question, why did you remove the hit tracker on the side of the main home page. I have been a fan since the beginning and watched that number climb to 30 million! I schepp nachas

yudig

It is painful to see ua do this to itself…question is though if it worth switching to another carrier…fyi I did notice that changing us address to intl address may have worked as there is no calculator appearing in account to track $ spent on tickets

Tommy

Not surprising at all, Delta did the same thing in Memphis a couple of months ago, As a frequent flyer flies at least once a week I can tell you that the best service around the friendliest service around is Delta Airlines, no wonder they throw a huge profit every year, The only disadvantage to Delta airlines is their award system

Tommy

Now with the new merger of American airlines US Airways I believe that Charlotte and Philadelphia are next on the cutting block

Zvi Weiss

I have been “yelling” even before the merger. The “power play” that forced Gordon Bethune out of Continental (by a predatory stock “player”) spelled the downfall of CO. Bethune was a pilot LICENSED FOR 747 Aircraft. He UNDERSTOOD the flying public. When he was forced out — you were left with a bean counter — Smisek. He ad a GREAT airline and he “Ran it into the ground”… and I have actually heard FLIGHT CREW say this.
When the CO – UA merger was announced, I cursed the day and every time I head him “boast” who people would like the changes, I felt like vomiting…
As far as I can tell the only “hope” is that CO – UA will bring back Bethune (or someone like him) who can [maybe] make UA worth flying again…

Abb

Another reason to move to nyc!

Sfuzzi

What I don’t understand is how this is a business decision. The united fares out of cleveland have sky rocketed since the merger. One can routinely fly United out of Pittsburgh, 100 miles away, on a flight that connects through Cleveland for 30,40 percent or moree off the flight from Cleveland. I do not fly a million miles a year but all the flights I am on are completely full. I too assumed the dehubbing was inevitable though. Do you think are prices will now be more in line with nearby Detroit and Pitts?

It's me

And to make things even worse, they break guitars!

Mendel

Any chance spirit or jet blue takes over? I heard a rumor jet blue may leave Pitt for cleveland

Joe

It’s Cleveland…..duh!

mark

As a United pilot whispered to me while we waited on line for customs “United’s motto is we’re not happy until you’re not happy”

Ket

Dan,
So are SQ flights in and out of US not able to book over phone ever or is it temporary?

Donkey Boy

Inevitable with DAL in DTW and UAL in ORD.

Cue Southwest in 3, 2, 1…

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