Thanksgiving travelers take note: Continental's operations at Chicago O'Hare aren't where you left them. The airline announced it will move its ticketing and check-in counters next to United's at O'Hare's Terminal 1. The move is expected to take effect Tuesday, according to the Chicago Tribune. However, Continental passengers will not be able to use United's EasyCheck-in kiosks or its ticket counters for some time.
This is one of the first visible changes passengers will encounter as the two airlines merge, and the first step in what is perhaps the most delicate stage of the merger: combining the two airlines' customer service operations. United is taking a risk by combining check-in and ticketing facilities at one of its busiest airports just two weeks before Thanksgiving. How it handles the transition may offer a glimpse into how smooth the whole merger will go.
The Tribune notes that United has begun painting planes with its new livery, but that many crucial service decisions, such as the airline's eventual first-class product and the fate of United's Economy Plus seating, haven't been made or, at least, announced publicly. One change customers can expect is a combined reservations system in the spring. As the Tribune points out, this is among the most nerve-wracking aspects of a merger for the airline and customers alike, because glitches can grind the airline's services to a halt.
But for now, let's just see how the new world's largest airline handles moving some check-in desks.