United and Continental went public with their merger today, launching a page on their single website (United.com) to detail the first major public-facing merged branding, in addition to talking up the changes on their new Facebook page (facebook.com/unitedairlines) and Twitter feed (@united).
Highlights unveiled today for what's now the biggest airline in the world include newly aligned check-in and boarding processes, the linking of the airlines' MileagePlus and OnePass loyalty programs, new branding (including blue carpets and signage) premiering at Chicago's O'Hare airport, a new Premier Access VIP service for "elite" travelers, news on the in-flight menu being introduced this summer (including "new custom coffee, and the beer selection on domestic flights will feature Heineken, Budweiser and Miller Lite" — but no Corona, as Continental offered), and details on self-service check-ins.
One lowlight on what should have been a big day: reinstating the flight numbers of the downed flights on 9/11.
On Saturday (May 21st), United flight numbers 93 and 175 were scheduled to be reintroduced as codeshare flights, almost a decade after those flight numbers were last used — on September 11th, 2001, when both planes were hijacked in the terrorist attacks.
An In Airline News poll shows the majority of respondents opposed to the move, which isn't surprising given that there's a Flight 93 memorial in the works at the Pennsylvania field where that plane was downed, and Flight 175 was one of the planes that flew into the World Trade Center that day, almost ten years ago.
Today, on its first day on its new Twitter feed, the merged airline apologized for that decision and announced it won't reintroduce those flight numbers after all:
Update: After our story was published, AP asked United to comment and was informed it was a technical glitch and that the 9/11 flight numbers have indeed, per United's Twitter responses, been pulled. United further acknowledged the error with an apology — saying the flight numbers had been "inadvertently reinstated" but were being removed — with this post on its new Facebook page: