As we all know, there are potentially some mergers on the horizon, in particular between Delta and Northwest as well as between Continental and United, and maybe even beyond that. First I should say that I have only been flying frequently for a few years, so I lack the historical experience of some others that were flying years ago and experienced the mergers firsthand, so I’m far from an expert on this, but just adding my two (or probably less) cents. I simply don’t understand all of the doom and gloom among everyone, and here’s why:
- Why do people act as if the mergers are a done deal? Yes, it’s looking like DL/NW will merge, but nothing is certain between UA/CO. Call me an optimist or a pessimist, depending on your view, but I’m a firm believe of “it’s not over till it’s over.” If I had a dollar for every email/IM I have gotten over the past few weeks of people convinced the mergers were both done deals, I think I would quit school and retire.
- DL/NW seems like it would be a pretty mild merger. The airlines are very similar in terms of their mileage programs and onboard service (or lack thereof). They both only have two cabins, so it should be a pretty simple combination.
- CO/UA: Hah! I really like both carriers. Continental is a consistent airline that isn’t trying to be everything to everyone. They know their miles are hard to redeem, they know upgrades on transcons are rare, but they’re not trying to do anything about it because that’s how they like it. United, on the other hand, is the most consistently inconsistent airline. I love them for their mileage program (despite their Starnet blocking) and the fact that they are VERY generous, in terms of upgrades, compensation, and elite benefits. United and Continental together, though, would be a total disaster, in my opinion. United has three cabins, Continental has two cabins. United has Economy Plus, Continental doesn’t. United has generous international upgrades, Continental doesn’t. The list goes on and on and on. I’m convinced they would try to please everyone, but that’s simply not possible. I’m sure eventually they could get things sorted out, but the transition would be painful. Still, I’m not convinced it’s happening, so we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
- I don’t think prices will go up due to a merger as much as some seem to think. We still have a bunch of low cost carriers and international competition, so that’s the least of my worries, at least if it’s only a merger or two and not more.
- What I’m most scared of is that low fares will start earning only 50% miles. Since low cost carriers don’t have good frequent flyer programs, that’s something they could probably get away with. Continental already has this policy for tickets not booked through them directly, so I’m sure a combined airline wouldn’t mind making it 50% all around for cheap fares, and I also think the new Delta would be glad to follow.
Again, I’m not convinced it’s happening, so it’s all theoretical for me.