United Airlines has just announced that they are buying Continental Airlines for just over $3 billion in stock. A company that lost $651 million last year is buying a company that lost $282 million so they can form the world's largest airline. Who will this benefit? Certainly not us.
Last year, United Airlines ranked last in the American Customer Satisfaction Index for major airlines with a score of 56. Their poor service became even more legendary last year with Dave Carroll's video, United Breaks Guitars, that has generated more than 8 million views on YouTube.
It's hard to imagine a company run as poorly as United Airlines can handle a massive merger with grace and style. In the short run, customers should expect even worse service as employees face the fear of uncertain job security, potentially contentious union negotiations, and the general confusion that is sure to come from this deal.
The one bright spot may be that Continental's CEO, Jeffery Smisek, will be at the helm of this new company. Contintental scored a 68 in last year's American Customer Satisfaction Index for major airlines, second only to Southwest which scored an 81.
Do you fly United or Continental now? If so, it may be time to cash in those frequent flyer miles and start looking for another carrier.