I suppose every time you check a bag or even just show up at the airport it is a bet as to whether everything will make it to the destination or not, but that’s not the bet I made. Six months ago I was talking with a pretty senior guy from Continental over quite a few drinks (at least for me). One thing led to another and we ended up with a bet: Can Continental deliver six major improvements for customers in a six month window. Well, the six months expired yesterday and the final two announcements came out today. They actually did it, which is pretty amazing, as are the actual benefits in question. I’ve posted about several of the announcements here previously, so I won’t go into details on those, but there are a couple new ones worth getting in to.
- LiveTV service coming starting in January 2009 on the vast majority of the domestic fleet. This complements the AVOD systems that will be on the majority of the international fleet by the end of ‘09 (all the 757-200s by the end of ‘08).
- Access to standby and upgrade details from PDAs.
- No more expiring wait list for upgrades. The wait list will now be available up to the time of departure.
- Million Miler program for lifetime status after flying enough miles.
- New BusinessFirst Seats – Lie flat seats on all the 777s, 787s and 752s. No word on the 767s yet. The seats look pretty nice overall and the lie-flat option is a welcome upgrade from the current “recliner-style” seat.
- A three-part offering
- Corona Extra instead of Fosters, plus plenty of extra limes
- Fixing the upgrade processing so folks on the waitlist don’t get bypassed by 24- and 3-hour EUAs
- A customer experience survey per flight that is tied into their back-end systems to drive real results
Overall these improvements are pretty impressive, especially in light of the various cuts that airlines have been instituting over the past few month. And Continental certainly has instituted some new charges, increased others, cut routes and capacity and shared a certain amount of bad news. But relatively speaking they seem to be doing pretty well by their customers.
And thanks to a technicality it looks like I won the bet. The six months expired yesterday and the last two announcements didn’t come out until today. Of course, they really did deliver on the big six and I’ll overlook the final announcements coming a day late, and I look forward to settling up the bet, since it involves a bar tab, and those are always fun to build up.
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