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I’m actually sad that Continental Airlines will very soon be a part of airline history. On March 3rd, the merger with United will be complete, and the name Continental Airlines will be one relegated to airline museums. I’m sad about this because I grew up near Houston, Texas. In fact, I still live near Houston. Continental has been a big part of Houston for my entire life. I went to school with kids whose dad’s flew planes for Continental. I have friends who grew up and became flight attendants for Continental. Heck, this Christmas I even drove by a house that had a wood replica of a Continental Airlines plane incorporated in their Christmas decorations. Continental is a big part of Houston, and it will be missed. I know that United is retaining many of the Continental policies and functionality (and OnePass numbers!), but it still isn’t the same.
Not only is it a big part of the city, but Continental has played a huge role in my flying history. When I was five years old, my mom and aunt bought my three older cousins and me one-way tickets from Houston to Austin and Austin to Houston. We took turns flying back and forth from Austin and Houston spending time with the other family for a few days during the summer that year.
None of us had flown before, so our parents wanted us to have that experience. So, my first flight was in the summer of 1986 at the age of 5 flying solo from Austin to Houston. I was so excited – I even got to get a new Care Bear to mark the occasion. As a five-year-old girl living in the 1980’s, getting a new Care Bear clearly meant you were doing something important.
Along with my new toy, I put on a dress, had a bow in my hair, and was ready to fly in style. What I remember most about the flight was how mad I was that a cello got the window seat. Ha ha – I guess I was the kid that the adults didn’t want to sit next to?! I could hardly even see out of the window, but I still loved every minute of it. I’m very grateful my parents trusted me to take my first flight as a five-year-old solo flyer. I think it is part of what kicked off my love of travel and my sense of independence.
So, aside from just feeling nostalgic about Continental, there are a couple things to make sure you have done in order to prepare for the merger. If you have both a United MileagePlus and Continental OnePass number, make sure to link the two accounts. Turns out it may be too late to do this – I can’t really test it since my accounts are already linked. However, in the event you can’t link them, at least make sure the names and addresses on both accounts are an exact match. This automatic linking and conversion should happen automatically after March 3rd, but it is good to do everything you can on your end to make sure that that process is as smooth as possible for your accounts.
Second, if you ever wanted a Continental Airlines OnePass Plus credit card, the last date to get one is said to be Wednesday February 29th. We all knew the days were limited for the Continental credit card, but now the end is just six days away. The sign-up bonus for the card is 30,000 OnePass miles that are awarded after your first purchase (assuming you add an authorized user). If you don’t add an authorized user in the first 2 months, the bonus is just 25,000 miles. The terms and conditions for this card state that “this one-time bonus offer is valid only for first-time Continental Airlines personal cardmembers with new accounts. Previous and existing Continental Airlines personal cardmembers/accounts are not eligible for this bonus offer.”
It is also important to keep in mind that the terms for the United MileagePlus Explorer card currently indicate that “Previous and existing United Airlines cardmembers/accounts are not eligible for this bonus offer. United MileagePlus Explorer cardmembers will only receive one 25,000 bonus miles award if they apply for both the United Explorer Card and the Continental OnePass Plus Card after 7/19/2011.” Who knows if that will be enforced in the future after the Continental card goes away, but it is important to be aware of those terms. The other risk I see with getting the Continental card is that it will likely convert to a United Explorer Card within the next several months. I’m not sure how that conversion will work exactly, but be aware that if your Continental card converts to an Explorer card, then you may lose the chance to get a sign-up bonus for that card.
Finally, if you want to be on the last Continental flight to take-off, then join fellow BoardingArea blogger, The Wandering Aramean, and other CO enthusiasts on Continental Flight 1267 from Phoenix to Cleveland. It departs at 11:59PM local time on March 2nd. I will hopefully be asleep in my own bed as that last CO flight departs, but if I had extra time, extra money, and some reason to go to Phoenix or Cleveland, I’d be all over it. I hope to hear about the flight from those who make the journey.
In my own nostalgic way, I am happy that the first flight for both my daughter and I were on Continental flights….just 26 years apart.