United successfully moved its passengers services system off Apollo and onto Continental’s SHARES passenger services system this weekend. But the transition, the final major step in the United-Continental merger, was hardly glitch-free.
On Saturday, March 3, the day of the cutover, there were higher-than-usual flight delays; consumer access to United’s website was interrupted, and call centers were overloaded, among other snags.
By mid-day on Sunday, the most vexing issues for passengers had been resolved.
Glitches in the cutover were to be expected, given the complexity of the transition. Most migrations to new PSSs involve one airline. This involved two, creating the world’s largest airline.
Flight delays on Saturday were higher than usual at Chicago O’Hare, San Francisco, Washington Dulles and other airports, according to FlightStats.com. Those issues seem to have been resolved by the following day, although Dulles was still having problems.
Some passengers could not check in online, and long lines at check-in kiosks were reported at some airports.
United’s call centers were overwhelmed, despite bringing in extra staff over the weekend. Some callers reported hold times of more than an hour, and some said they were cut off after lengthy holds.
Some Internet Explorer users who tried to use the United website received an error message: “To access the site, your browser must support 128-bit encryption with a strong cipher.” United said it was working on the problem and recommended using Chrome, Firefox or Safari in the meantime.
From passengers’ perspective, one of the more distressing issues was the “disappearance” from the website and the United mobile app of flight segments or entire trips planned for the immediate future.
Some seat assignments, upgrades and upgrade credits also disappeared in the transition.
The combining of United Mileage Plus accounts with Continental OnePass accounts did not occur automatically in every case. United said it was still working to combine them.
But many of the complaints that appeared on Twitter, Facebook and FlyerTalk.com, a popular site for frequent travelers, were about minor issues.
For example, the new United.com website is essentially the old Continental site, and some users complained that it was hard to navigate and unattractive.
By midday on March 4, United said it had resolved these issues:
• all Premier accounts that had been linked in advance showed combined balances;
• the 128-bit encryption issue was fixed;
• the complimentary premium upgrade system was turned back on, and
• mobile applications were available.
Call center hold times were easing, but United asked travelers whose needs were not urgent to hold off calling for a couple of days.
CO flies into history
Meanwhile, Continental Airlines has flown into history. United employees worked to remove the last Continental signs from airports over the weekend.
The last flight, CO 1267, departed Phoenix the evening of March 2. It landed in Cleveland early Saturday morning as UA 1267.