Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL) is poised to join Star Alliance today following months of preparations for the first-ever transition of a major airline from one global alliance to another.
Within the last 48 hours, Continental has entered into bilateral commercial agreements with all of the existing 24 Star Alliance members, including reciprocal earning and redemption of frequent flyer miles.
In addition, Continental has signed code-sharing agreements with four Star Alliance members – United, Lufthansa, Air Canada and bmi. Code-sharing with additional airlines in Star Alliance will be implemented in the coming months.
Continental has pursued an extensive transition plan to facilitate the alliance change, including:
Airport co-locations: By the end of this year Continental will physically move airport operations at 11 airports around the world to be closer to other Star Alliance partners. Today Continental moved to Terminal 1 at Frankfurt and on November 1, to the South Wing of Terminal 1 at Tokyo’s Narita airport. Co-location moves have been made at Beijing, Chicago, Honolulu and Shanghai.
Airport and aircraft sign replacement: Continental has removed all signage referring to its former alliance and is in the process of deploying extensive Star Alliance branding throughout its airport facilities and on its aircraft. To remind customers of the transition, every main cabin entry door in Continental’s fleet will display a message saying, “You’re About To Get The Star Treatment.”
Booking class realignment:In order to make its 23 single-letter fare codes compatible with Star Alliance airlines Continental has revised the fare codes stored in over 6 million passenger reservation records that are active during the transition.
Customer service policies: The complimentary baggage allowance for Continental’s Platinum and Gold Elite customers, as well as Star Alliance Gold customers from other member carriers, has increased to three bags weighing up to 70 pounds each, for consistency with the established Star Alliance Gold benefits.
Frequent flyer program changes and elite customer recognition: Recently, Continental’s OnePass frequent flyer program unveiled a new reward chart that enhances OnePass and makes it more compatible to other programs in Star Alliance. OnePass members will be able to accrue mileage and book reward travel on Star Alliance airlines (and vice versa) effective today.
Technology and systems changes: Projects large and small, have been completed in order to facilitate the change to Star Alliance, including:
- updating customer information systems and booking records to ensure frequent flyer elite recognition across the Star Alliance network
- implementing new frequent flyer processes for mileage accrual and award redemptions
- developing through check-in abilities with all Star Alliance members
- connecting to the Star Alliance Data Network for real-time alliance flight information