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Air Passengers Angered by Problems Stemming from United Merger
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March 3 saw the merger of two of the country’s largest air carriers as United and Continental merged their reservations systems, their frequent-flier programs and their websites. The merger was performed by the world’s largest airline, United Continental Holdings.

A retired investor from Honolulu and a customer of United for 45 years, Lawrence Fung, said that he had to spend hours on the telephone attempting to postpone and then rebook a trip to Hong Kong. He was also waiting to purchase a seat upgrade. Fung said his number for his frequent-flier account changed and that he needed to acquire a new password.


“I’m very loyal to United,” Fung said. “But unless they go back to normal, it’s hard to even buy a ticket.” Fung said that he and a lot of his frequent-flier acquaintances are tired of the games and want to spend their United miles and then use other air carriers. Fung is going to use Delta to fly to Istanbul in July.

The merger happened close to 20 months ago and was worth $3.2 billion but United and Continental are still dealing with problems. The frequent fliers for the airline account for one percent of frequent flier members and 25 percent of airline revenue.

A large chunk of the frequent fliers are business travelers who pay big money for their tickets and who travel often. As business travelers, they have strict schedules and very little time for disruptions. Jeff Smisek, the CEO for United, issued an apology via conference call with investors for not being able to deliver customer service that was satisfactory. He said that the transition “was a monumental task for our company.” He also said that the company was on the “steep back slope of our integration.” This means that the problems will soon diminish and the benefits for the customer will increase.

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