Continental offers “Fare Lock” technology

ContinentalWe’re all about comparison shopping here at Gadling. But what happens when you wait just a moment too long and that oh-so-perfect fare is gone? It sucks, that’s what. Which is why we’re excited to experiment with Continental Airlines‘ newest feature, FareLock, an option that offers customers the opportunity to hold reservations and lock-in ticket prices for 72 hours or seven days with no commitment to purchase a ticket.

FareLock fees, begin $5 for a 72-hour hold and $9 for a seven-day hold, but can rise based on a number of factors such as the itinerary, number of days to departure and the length of the hold.

“FareLock is an innovative option for customers who need extra time to plan their travel before purchasing a ticket,” said Chris Amenechi, managing director of merchandising.

The carrier will continue to offer a 24-hour flexible booking policy that allows reservation changes and cancellations with full refund without a fee within 24 hours of booking. For customers choosing FareLock, the 24-hour flexible booking policy remains in effect upon ticketing, although the FareLock fee is non-refundable.

[Flickr via ZazzaNM]

Which airline charged more than $500 million in cancellation fees?

There isn’t as much money in cancellations as there is in baggage fees, it seems. So far, close to $2.6 billion has been charged for bags this year (with three quarters measured), and U.S. airlines have only racked up $1.7 billion in cancellation fees. And, as usual, there’s one culprit that consumes around 30 percent of this, with the top five airlines accounting for more than 80 percent of the cancellation fees charged in the United States so far this year, according to the Department of Transportation.

Curious? Well, the list will look pretty familiar to you, largely because the largest airlines are most likely to generate the most revenue from cancellation fees.

Delta wins this fee race, as it did baggage fees, with more than $530 million in cancellation fees, followed by American Airlines ($353 million), United Airlines ($243 million), US Airways ($192 million) and Continental Airlines ($181 million). JetBlue takes a distant sixth with $85 million, and the numbers only get (much) smaller from there.

Which airline made the most money on baggage fees?

airline baggage feesLast year, baggage fees were used by airlines to make up for lost fare revenue, as the recession kept people on the ground. This year, it’s just been a great source of extra revenue, as passenger traffic and fares are up – and the fees haven’t gone away. Almost all airlines are getting in on the action, some more egregious than others.

Well, data for the third quarter of 2010 is in, and we can finally take a look at who’s hitting us hardest … and for how much. The numbers will probably shock you. The top baggage fee-grabber owned close to 30 percent of the total baggage fees charged in the United States, a market that has reached $2.6 billion for the first three quarters of the year, and the top five dominate with approximately 80 percent of the total fees charged for bags, according to data from the Department of Transportation.

Let’s take a look at the top five airlines for baggage fee snatching (and then the rest):1. Delta Air Lines, $733 million: in fairness, Delta is the largest airline in the United States, so it’s to be expected that it will generate the most revenue.

2. American Airlines, $431 million: the third-largest airline hits the #2 spot for baggage fees, implying an aptitude for prying open customer wallets yet to be recognized by its competitors.

3. US Airways, $388 million: again, this is an impressive take, as evidenced by the distance between US Airways and Continental, in the #4 spot.

4. Continental Airlines, $258 million: this almost makes the airline look downright reasonable, especially when it’s year-to-date baggage fees aren’t even as substantial as what Delta raked in during the third quarter alone!

5. United Airlines, $239 million:

And, the rest:

6. AirTran Airways: $112 million

7. Alaska Airlines: $81 million

8. Spirit Air Lines: $56 million

9. Frontier Airlines: $44 million

10. JetBlue Airways: $43 million

11. Allegiant Air: $43 million

12. Hawaiian Airlines: $40 million

13. Virgin America: $27 million

14. Southwest Airlines: $23 million

15. Republic Airlines: $18 million

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16. Horizon Air: $13 million

17. Sun Country airlines: $9 million

18. Mesa Airlines: $2 million

19. Continental Micronesia: $2 million

20. USA 3000 Airlines: $2 million

[photo by The Story Lady via Flickr]

Five United Airlines non-answers about the frequent-flier future

United Airlines decided to dive into the weeds. Executives from the airline met with close to 200 members of the online forum FlyerTalkers to discuss some of the major issues they see with the carrier, according to USA Today. This may not seem like a bold move, but to put the company’s top dogs out in front of some of the highest-value customers comes with plenty of risk, especially for an airline recently named the second worst in the United States.

So, what was on the agenda? The frequent-flier program was of course top of mind, as many of the people in attendance hold elite-level memberships. Despite being pressed by customers and media, however, the United Airlines executives kept their lips sealed on future plans for the program.

Here are five key topics from the event:
1. How the merger will affect the Mileage Plus and One Pass programs: no details were provided on what will change. But, they are expected to come out in the next few weeks. Through 2011, according to USA Today, the programs will not be integrated, “though some streamlining changes will begin. Look for them to be integrated in 2010.

2. Doubling down for the end of the year: USA Today pushed to see if United would be offering any year-end double-elite-qualifying mile offers. The company was “noncommittal.”

3. A place to put your feet up: United would only say that a rebranding effort for its Untied and Continental lounges is “a possibility.” It may use one of the existing names – United’s Red Carpet or Continental’s Presidents Club – or it may not.

4. Slightly better seating: United wouldn’t reveal whether it’s premium economy section would be retained post-merger. Continental doesn’t have a similar offer.

5. Thresholds for top-tier: will it take 75,000 miles or 100,000 miles to become the top dog? Well, there’s still no answer.

So, United made itself visible and accessible, but it didn’t bring much to the table. This leads to the obvious question … why bother?

[photo by Deanster1983 via Flickr]

New Continental – United combination already leading on-time performance charts

The new combination of Continental Airlines and United Airlines is already off to a good start – the two just took the top spots in on-time performance for domestic scheduled flights among the leading carriers in the country.

The Department of Transportation measures the on-time performance, and the information is published in the Air Travel Consumer Report. Continental ended the month with 87.1% of their flights arriving within 14 minutes of the scheduled arrival time, and United followed with 85.1% of their flights.

Yes – there is plenty to complain about in the world of aviation, but I’m sure we can all agree that having flights arrive on time is a great piece of news. Full press release is after the jump.

[Photo: AP/Michael Stravato]



CONTINENTAL AND UNITED LEAD IN ON-TIME PERFORMANCE FOR AUGUST 2010

CHICAGO, Oct. 12, 2010 – United Continental Holdings, Inc. today announced that Continental Airlines was first and United Airlines was second in on-time performance for domestic scheduled flights among America’s five largest global carriers* for August 2010, as measured by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and published in the Air Travel Consumer Report released today.

Continental ended the month with 87.1 percent of flights arriving at their destinations within 14 minutes of the scheduled arrival time, according to data published by the DOT. United was second in August with 85.1 percent of flights arriving at their destinations within 14 minutes of the scheduled arrival time, according to monthly data from the same report, when comparing Continental and United with Delta, American and US Airways – the five largest U.S. global carriers by revenue, available seat miles or passengers flown.

“These results demonstrate our commitment to get customers to their destinations safely and on-time,” said Pete McDonald, executive vice president and chief operations officer of United. “Ranking highest in on-time performance among our peers reflects the combined efforts of our teams at both airlines.”



About United Continental Holdings, Inc.

United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: UAL) is the holding company for both United Airlines and Continental Airlines. Together with United Express, Continental Express and Continental Connection, these airlines operate a total of approximately 5,800 flights a day to 371 airports throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa from their hubs in Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Guam, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark Liberty, San Francisco, Tokyo and Washington, D.C. United and Continental are members of Star Alliance, which offers more than 21,200 daily flights to 1,172 airports in 181 countries worldwide through its 28 member airlines. United’s and Continental’s more than 80,000 employees reside in every U.S. state and in many countries around the world. For more information about United Continental Holdings, Inc., go to UnitedContinentalHoldings.com. For more information about the airlines, see united.com and continental.com, and follow each company on Twitter and Facebook.

*According to arrival data published today in the U.S. Department of Transportation Air Travel Consumer Report, Continental was first and United was second in on-time performance for domestic scheduled flights as measured by the U.S. Department of Transportation (i.e., flights arriving within 14 minutes of scheduled arrival time) for the month of August 2010, when compared to the largest U.S. global carriers based on available seat miles, enplaned passengers or passenger revenue, which includes American, Continental, Delta, United and US Airways.