United On Verge Of Completing Its 2010 Merger With Continental (Finally!)

United and Continental merged in 2010, with Continental management eventually taking over, but six years later that merger is still not complete.

Legacy United and Continental flight attendants still do not have a single contract, and as a result United flight attendants work United planes and Continental flight attendants work Continental planes — and new aircraft get split between them.

This even means that the airline winds up assigning planes to routes for which they’re ill-suited because of where flight attendants are based, or because of the number of a given aircraft type in each fleet. For instance the airline had to assign a single 787 to the legacy United side, which wasn’t enough for it to do Asia flying. So they scheduled it domestically pending a second 787 that contracts dictated went to that side of the operation.

United Airlines Boeing 787

American, of course, still has to integrate its pilots onto a single seniority list and crew scheduling onto a single platform. But that merger is two and a half years old, not six years old.

There was some hope that United CEO Oscar Munoz would announce a joint contract for flight attendants and the ability to move forward as a single integrated airline at his major media event earlier this month. That didn’t happen, so he was left with business class hard and soft product improvements to introduce (the former of which won’t be available across the bulk of the fleet for 5 years).

But agreement was close then, and seems closer still now.

Now, after three years of negotiations, the airline and its flight attendants seem to be near an agreement that could integrate the work force.

United management and the Association of Flight Attendants, the union representing the airline’s cabin workers, are scheduled to meet for four days in Chicago next week in what both parties hope is a final mediation session. A new contract would unify all the flight attendants on issues like health care plans, wages and scheduling.

“We feel optimistic,” said Sara Nelson, the union’s international president and a United flight attendant for 20 years.

United Flight Attendants Campaigning in Union Election Outside San Francisco United Club

Get this done and there won’t be any barriers to United completing its much-maligned brand promise of the late 90s “Rising” — this along won’t make it great, but they’ll be able to run the operation and the airline’s future will be in management’s hands.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary –

    In case you wondered, the reason that the union reps were campaigning outside the SFO United Club is because the entrance to the flight services ops department is through the same door, so both flight attendants and pilots go through there before their flights.


  2. Not Really sure What Your Point is regarding Crew Integration or Who is flying Who’s Aircraft….. Unless You are an Employee and It concerns You, You are making An Issue out of Nothing that concerns You. But, We know Many of You like to “stir the pot” just for Drama’s sake.

  3. @Reese this is a key operational milestone in running as one airline, which will finally position United to get its act together.

  4. Yes, let’s get this issue resolved so Oscar can make more improvements to United.

  5. Ah, but the part they don’t tell you is that all the flight attendants then have to vote to approve the contract- and if that vote fails to pass it’s back to the drawing board. Again.

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