Almost everyone has an opinion of Newark Airport. Looking out the window on departure you see a lot of familiar sights: IKEA, the Jersey Turnpike, Refineries, an occasional Sopranos flashback, and lots and lots of white planes with blue tails. These planes are now marked UNITED. Scratching my head I had to look twice.
The merger of United and Continental has not just begun- it is in full swing. I travel in and out of EWR a lot. I actually have grown to like the place in an odd sort of way. It always means that I am off someplace to meet a customer or go to a show. I’m eager to meet someone I have talked with in the past or for the first time. Arriving means that home is about 90 minutes from touchdown.
When I saw the planes painted the familiar white and blue with the United name, I was disappointed and concerned. Spending about 100,000+ air miles per year in a continental plane has afforded me a consistency and level of service that I deem more than acceptable. The 16+ hours to Hong Kong always seem manageable with the smiles and hard work that the attendants put forth; which is contrasting to my experiences with United: the old planes and crabby attendants who make it a chore and frown if you ask for the can of soda during the beverage service.
I listened to Larry Kellner the CEO for years during his pre-recorded message about their quality service, newest jet fleet in the industry, etc… but the biggest test for this airline since its bankruptcy in the 1990’s is to maintain its consistency of reasonable service at a competitive rate while not falling prey to the perils of mergers gone bad. And for all of us frequent business travelers, do not forget to just give us the whole can of soda.