BREAKING: United and Continental airlines to merge?

We hear rumblings of airline mergers every day here at Gadling headquarters, but this one is starting to pick up traction. Chicago-based United Airlines and Houston-based Continental Airlines are reported to be in merger talks, with each respective board meeting to discuss possibilities and logistics this week.

What would a merger this mean for the average world traveler? The combined airline would overtake Delta Airlines as the largest carrier in the world, and with fewer players in the market, prices will undoubtedly go up. As of this year, both Continental and United are in the same Star Alliance, so those saving miles won’t be seriously affected by the merger.

The main concern that travelers will need to mull is the change in customer service. Larger ubiquitous airlines tend to cover the spectrum of destinations well but fall short on loyalty programs and public relations (see: Delta,) so those looking for a more boutique experience may shirk away to JetBlue or Virgin America.

Conversely, if the mega-airline can emulate the current outstanding service that Continental hosts then they’ll earn some serious passenger loyalty and subsequent cash. Let’s hope that’s the route they take.

An announcement on the merger could come as early as next Monday.