Saturday, March 3, 2012

I Survived Too: Merger Day at ORD

When I booked this weekend's travel, a few months back, United had announced that it planned to merge all its systems with Continental's at end of business on Saturday, March 3. So I was pretty certain that by flying on Saturday afternoon I'd be in the clear.

Later, they switched up and announced that everything would merge overnight/early Saturday morning. So I prepped for disaster, leaving home on Thursday for ORD, ticket numbers documented offline, mileage balances recorded as proof, and reservations printed in hard copy. Saturday morning I tried to check in online, having totally forgotten to do so the previous night (rookie mistake!).

But online check in via iPhone app was broken. I tried on my laptop using the Continental-fied website. No dice. I'd have to go try a kiosk at the airport.

When I got the ticket lobby, I hit the nearest kiosk. It couldn't find my reservation. Not good. So I found the Premier Access 1K line, which only had about 10 people in it. The Economy & international check in lines were longer, but not horrible. And UA staff were out in force: greeting people, answering questions, and most of all, manning the ticket desks, with supervisors looking over their shoulders. The problems of the non-GUI HP SHARES system are documented elsewhere, but based on what I was seeing today at ORD, it didn't seem like there were major problems they couldn't handle on day 1.

Best of all, though, were the t-shirts UA ticket personnel sported, as seen in my photo above. The front said, "Merger Day One," and the back said: "I Survived."

I chatted with a service rep who said that while the scene wasn't too bad now (mid-day), the morning had apparently been horrendous. Lots of angry pax, confusion and broken systems. She also said that it was just as well that I had forgotten to check in online the previous day: all the people who had done so arrived at the airport to learn that their check ins were not in the system and they had to hit the ticket counters anyway.

One way or the other, when I made it to the counter, the agent found my res, gave me my boarding pass, and sent me on my way. By the time I got online here in the United Club, my current year and lifetime mileage balances had shown up in my MileagePlus account, along with my upgrade balance.

I logged in to the Club wifi network (the "T" in T-Mobile is for "tortoise") using my old MileagePlus number, not my new alphanumeric OnePass-ish number. Not everything has been updated yet, I guess.

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