Continental Airlines Final Days and What It Means For You

by on February 23, 2012 · 46 comments

in Continental, United

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The Continental/United merger is quickly barreling towards finality – in a short time Continental will cease to exist as an airline, but many facets of the airline will live on with the new United. According to FlyerTalk’s UA Insider thread, news has come down that the last official flight of Continental Airlines will be #1267 departing from Phoenix at 11:59pm on March 2, arriving Cleveland, 5:46 am March 3. A red-eyed last hurrah!

Frequent Flyer Accounts

Come March 3, customers of both airlines are likely to experience some delays and headaches as the two companies’ systems are finally merged once and for all. That also means Continental OnePass accounts and MileagePlus accounts will be merged, so if you haven’t linked them, be sure to do so by then so the transition is as smooth as possible for you. It also looks like Continental miles won’t start expiring until September 30, 2013, so that might buy you some more time to use them (though keeping your miles from expiring is pretty simple).

Turns out the new airline has decided to go with Continental’s OnePass numeration system with letters and numerals, so if you have a Continental OnePass number, your new frequent flyer account number should be that, while if you were strictly a United loyalist before, you’ll get a new FF account number generated for you.

Elite status you earned back in 2010 will expire on March 2, 2012, so if you didn’t requalify, you have till then to enjoy the perks.

Site Issues

On the customer experience side, is scheduled to automatically forward to, though the site should pretty much look like Continental’s site used to…which is great, because as I’ve pointed out, Continental’s customer interface is a lot better than United’s, especially when it comes to booking award tickets.

Credit Considerations

Those of you thinking about getting the Continental OnePass Plus Card should also do so immediately since it the latest update is that the card will be going away sometime soon as well, possibly as early as March 3. You can find details on the card here (you can also try to get a 60,000 point offer via the process in this post). The Onepass card also gives you perks like a free checked bag, priority boarding, complimentary lounge passes, and double miles earned on dollars spent on airline tickets on United and Continental.

The End of Days

While I’m a little bit nostalgic about the end of Continental, which has been around since 1934, I’m interested to see what the new airline finally ends up looking like. Though I’m sure there are going to be a lot of bumps in the road in the coming months, in the end, I’m excited to see what the new merged airline looks like and that some of the uncertainty of the past months will be coming to an end.

While I’m mostly focused on flying Delta and American these days, we’ll have some new contributors talking about the new MileagePlus program soon, and what that will mean for United flyers, so keep an eye out for that coverage.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • tpat

    I applied for the Continental OnePass Plus card over a year ago and got the miles in my account. If I apply for the United Mileage Plus Explorer card before March 1 and put down my current United frequent flyer # on my application, will I have difficulty receiving the miles (since the new merged account will not include the old United frequent flyer number)?

    My preference is to wait until some time after March 1 to apply, but then my concern would be whether or not I would receive the miles by entering my Continental frequent flyer # for a second time on an application (first time was for the OnePass Plus card).

    Any insight would be appreciated.

  • Ahmet Can

    Hey Brian. I was thinking about canceling my Continental card and then signing up for the United card to get the points. What are your thoughts?

  • Mr John

    United Mileage Plus service center appears to be totally buried. I’ve sent in two requests (one by mail and one online) about 2 weeks ago with no trace of a response.

  • sr

    What about mile transfer partners, have they said how this will be handled in cases where only one of the airlines is a partner with a program?

  • Marianagiraudo

    I am about to book a 4 award tickets from EWR to Vietnam. I’m waiting on Chase Saphhire to credit me some sign up bonus points. I really like Continental’s site interface for booking. do you think it will be just as easy after March 3? Also, do you think they will use the same type of mileage award system? In other words, I find that Continental has some of the most generous award ticket pricing policies (especially when compared to Delta). I hope the merged company will honor that.

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  • SEABrad

    Similar question as some others. I currently have a MP Visa and CO Pres + card. I had a CO MC (not OnePass +), but closed it. Could/should I apply for OnePass + card now, and then later in the year the Explorer (assuming bonuses make sense?)

    Great post!

  • Dave

    Per Chase:

    “On March 3, 3012 the United Continental merger will be
    finalized. Letters will be mailed on March 1, 2012
    notifying you that the credit card from Chase will have a
    new name along with an updated design. New cards will
    start being mailed April 1, 2012 through August 1, 2012.
    For the latest merger updates please visit”

  • Cc

    i currently have the onepass as well as explorer from chase. Should I apply fo another chase card( thinking maybe marriott or southwest) and use the onepass as leverage or just wait for chase to cancel my onepass card before I apply for another card?

  • Anonymous

    I’m in the same boat as Ahmet and would love to hear your thoughts TPG!

  • Kelvinpaulstroud

    What about airline credit with Continental? Do I need to spend it asap or can I use it for United flights?

  • prathyush

    i have a chase onepass card opened in december and got the 50K bonus.
    I’m guessing it will be converted to united card sometime soon.

    Let’s say it is converted to united explorer card in march. Does that mean i won’t be elgible for the first time member 50K bonus for the united card.

    would it be advisible to apply for the united card before march and try to get the 50K bonus.

  • Abby S

    Do we know anything about new award flight redemption levels / rules for the newly combined program? I just checked the website, and it looks like they may be introducing new award charts with at least some awards based on distance — I’m fearing an Avios situation, just as I was beginning to build up my United balance!

    Here’s the language the troubled me:

    United MileagePlus® has been named Best Frequent-Flyer Program for seven consecutive years by Global Traveler magazine, and OnePass® is consistently ranked among the leading programs in the industry. Now, we’re designing a new program, building in some of the most popular features of MileagePlus and OnePass to deliver awards faster to our most loyal customers. We’re working toward launching the new program in early 2012.

    With thousands of flights to hundreds of destinations on the world’s most extensive airline network, it’s easier than ever to earn miles and elite status. ****For example, the new MileagePlus award chart will feature a lower mileage requirement for domestic United flights of less than 700 miles one way.****

  • hobo13

    >While I’m a little bit nostalgic about the end of Continental, which has been around since 1934…

    This is almost laughable. CO is still going to be around, almost in its entirety. It’s just called United now. You should really be mourning the loss of United as we know it.

  • Fernando

    Should I be worried about my $50 gift certificate to CO that I got last year from my PLT airline credit? Or will the gift certificate be accepted in the new UA?

  • Jtgray

    While the planes and routes will remain, the name “Continental” won’t be around. I think that’s what he meant.

  • hobo13

    I could care less what you call the new entity. The fact remains that CO’s way of doing things will exist….. RIP United.

  • pianodude

    I had the CO card for over a year (50K bonus) and then applied for and received the UA Explorer a few days. I moved my credit line from the CO card to the Explorer when speaking with the reconsideration agent. I have been told I will get the 50K UA miles. Also, I previously had the old UA card for which I got a 50K bonus.

  • Michael

    I just got my new ones. I think they will be accepted, not good reason to try and get free miles for not be allowed to use the perk with out notice.

  • Kutrala Lingam

    I just got a continental onepass card approved with 50k miles offer… My card will arrive on Saturday or Monday (Feb 27th).. If I make my first purchase on 27th, assume it will post on March 1.. So, I will call on Feb 28th and ask them to move my statement date to March 1, so that I get my 50k points posted to my onepass account on March 2.. With transition happening on March 3, I hope I will be able to see my 50k in the new Mileageplus environment…

    Does that make sense?

    Any thoughts to avoid hassle…?

  • Sfujj

    Hello, I recently transferred all my miles from Continental to United. IN your post above you mentioned that United will go with Continetnal OnePass numeration system . Does this mean that I should transfer my miles back to Continental or just link the two accounts?

  • PJ

    are you guys saying:

    you can be a cardholder of old United card and still can get the United Explorer?

    also can you get both Explorer and also COntinental one pass ? it does not sound logical from the business point of view

  • Eggss4

    TPG, very happy you’ll have a UA poster on here. You are one of my favorite bloggers but there was only so much that I could glean at times since I’m a UA 1K flying out of EWR mostly.

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  • Miami_studd

    CO cus service, really u got to be kidding. Oh, I really love it when the 800 # hangs up on you b/c they don’t want to hire more agents. Or, when the hold time is 30 minutes on the elite line. Or, the inability of them to actually care about service slip-ups etc… Really, UA was a mess with old planes etc but at least they actually seemed to care and if they didn’t at least they would give you something for your trouble. Try to reach CO to complain, its nearly impossible at peak times, and the one-pass service center won’t even bother to pick up the phone anymore. There is a msg to check out the website and then it hangs up! Oh yea, welcome to the new CO/UA.
    I am UA 75K elite not that they actually seem to care much. I am moving to AA, where I am treaded so much better as just olde simple AA Plat.

  • Miami_studd

    OH, and CO by the way I do spend 8K a year on tkts, but now its all going to AA,
    exect plat here I come

  • Anonymous

    Completely agree that the hold times for Continental phone reps can be outrageous!

  • Anonymous

    If you have an old United card you can get the bonus on the new one OR the Continental onepass plus.

  • Anonymous

    Just link the accounts and you’ll be fine

  • Confused

    Why are you suggested applying for the 60K Explorer card before the Continental OnePass card goes away? Will that Explorer offer no longer be available after March 2?

  • Anonymous

    The 60k Explorer will also trigger 60k Onepass Plus. I’m suggesting getting the 60k Continental offer before the card goes away

  • Igor

    “I’m mostly focused on flying Delta and American these days”

    Care to explain why??? I see so much more availability for most flights I want when I check

    just curious. thanks

  • Sid

    As long as you received the onepass ard before July 2011, you’re eligible for the bonus miles for the United card, otherwise you’re out of luck.

  • David

    On the ticketing side, United’s system was far easier (and more modern) to navigate for ticketing staff (according to United personnel) compared to Continental’s interface. United’s system will be scrapped and instead Continental’s system will be used going forward, so there will be some unavoidable IT-related system merge complications (there *always* are issues with any type of system merge).

  • Confused

    I gotcha now. I got the 50K OnePass Plus last April, so I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to get another OnePass. Just the “new” Explorer for me, which I’ll probably apply for soon.

  • OPMP

    You mentioned linking MP and OnePass accounts a couple times in this post but the site says you can’t do this anymore. Do you know of a way how to circumvent this? The program merger website mentions a re-balancing of EQMs on March 1st.

  • Bonds

    United Website was retarded.

  • Bonds

    TPG, where is this 60K continental offer you speak of? All I see is 30k Continaental.

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  • Maryybarra

    Im confused. What do I need to do now to make sure I dont lose my Continental miles and my United miles.

  • Linsales1

    do the miles expire in a year or is there no expiration on reward miles?

  • Jb_bell

    can I use my two free continental us tickets on united?

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  • Theresahart

    My son has his pin for Continental Airlines One Pass but he does not have his One Pass Account Number. How do we get in touch with someone to obtain him account number? Many thanks.

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  • nush

    I BELIEVE THAT WITH CONTINENTAL, THEY HAD A PROVISION THAT CERTAIN AIRPORTS IN THE SAME METROPOLITAN AREa were considered :equivalent” with respect to the rules regarding open jaw vs round trip categories, ie leaving from ewr and returning to jfk was considered a round trip, not an open jaw……………..and this carried over to the reissuance rules regarding an unused award ticket……..if the original ticket originated in ie sjc san jose, it cold be changed to an sfo origin in the new reservation and would NOT incur a fee if the new reservation was made greater than 3 weeks in advance

    how do i find the answer to this question/

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