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Flying colors: the new United Airlines livery represents the heritage of both merged carriers.

By Mark Chesnut

Now that the merger between Continental Airlines and United Airlines is a done deal, what can travelers expect from the new United? Here are a few basics to keep you flying smoothly:

  • As of March 3, the boarding process has been made consistent system-wide, with all aircraft boarded by groups, numbered 1 to 8. (United customers won’t be seeing the words “Seating Area” anymore.)
  • Also as of March 3, all MileagePlus accounts were assigned a Personal Identification Number. Members of Continental’s OnePass frequent flyer program have a new MileagePlus account, with the account balance transferred.
  • United’s Economy Plus product is being installed in the former Continental fleet. Economy Plus, which has up to six extra inches of legroom, has been added to 28 planes so far. As of March 20, it’s available on all 757-200 aircraft , and work has started on the 737-800 and 767-400 fleets.
  • United has rebranded its international, long-haul front-of-cabin service as United Global First and United BusinessFirst.
  • Work has started to redevelop the company’s hub at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. The first phase will be complete in 2013, with a new, $160-million Terminal B South Concourse that will be nearly four times the size of the existing facility, with room for United’s regional jet operations.
  • The company has added new international routes to destinations including Lago, Nigeria; Guadalajara, Mexico; Montreal, Canada; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Shanghai, China; and Stuttgart, Germany, while also expanding intra-Asia service from its Tokyo hub.
  • New domestic service includes year-round nonstop flights between Washington/Dulles and Honolulu, starting June 7. Seasonal summer service will begin on June 7 between Denver and Fairbanks, Alaska, and between Houston and Rapid City, S.D. On June 8, United launches seasonal summer flights linking both Houston and San Francisco with Jackson Hole, Wyo.

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Mark Chesnut is a freelance travel writer, editor and publisher of, which focuses on travel to Latin America. He joined the OnePass program back in the days of Eastern Airlines.

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Mark Chesnut
Mark Chesnut is a travel writer, editor and photographer. He's written for Fodor's, the Huffington Post, the Miami Herald, Travel Weekly, various inflight magazines and the New York Times best-seller "1,000 Places To See Before You Die." He also operates a travel blog,, which focuses on travel to Latin America. Find more from Mark on Twitter @munderamedia and Instagram @mundera

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