In the News, Reviews

United Lands Continental Airlines In Merger: What Do Employees Need To Know?

Monday morning’s news was partly dominated with headlines that the world’s largest airline is now United Airlines – a result of its $3 billion merger with Continental Airlines. According to the New York Times, United is buying Continental, and the combined company will keep the United name and be based in Chicago. However, it was reported that Jeffery A. Smisek, Continental’s chief executive, will run the company, and United’s Glenn Tilton will be non-executive chairman. In addition, the merged company will keep the Continental logo, livery and colors as well as maintain a large presence in Houston.

In a statement posted on a new Web site, the airlines said the merger would have “minimal” effects on its front-line employees, with reductions in staff mainly from “retirements, attrition and voluntary programs.”

We think this will be interesting to watch as we’ve reported on some of the variances between these two companies in the past few months and it seems Continental employees are typically more satisfied than United Employees. (see chart below)

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So what words of advice can United Airlines employees offer to its Continental brethren? Glassdoor shares the pros and cons of life within the airline:


  • “Most of the people are very enthusiastic about their work, and love airlines and the airline industry. The work-life balance is great, which gives you an opportunity to travel on weekends or socialize with friends and colleagues.” – United Airlines employee (Chicago, IL)
  • “The overall compensation package is as good or better than most airlines and there are still some very experienced people working in customer service.” – United Airlines Customer Service Representative (Denver, CO)
  • “Passionate employees, great industry to be a part of with rich history, management is taking the right steps to return to profitability.” – United Airlines (Chicago, IL)


  • “Totally convoluted org charts that result in a huge amount of “passing the buck” as no Manager or Director ever seems to want to actually MAKE a decision.” – United Airlines Senior Analyst (Chicago, IL)
  • “The company is way too dedicated in earning money where they don’t really care about the pilots, they treat them very poorly as well as other staff members.” – United Airlines First Officer (New York, NY)
  • “Some very senior flight attendants have a sense of “entitlement”, some are bitter and do not enjoy working there anymore.” – United Airlines Flight Attendant (Chicago, IL)

So what about advice for Smisek as he’s positioned to takes the reigns of this airline behemoth:

And let’s not forget that with the Continental CEO at the head, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see some of the Continental culture cross over with him. Here’s a taste of some cultural aspects Continental employees comment on within their reviews to give you an idea:

  • “Travel benefits, health care benefits, environment is probably not as political or competitive as similarly sized corporations, many highly talented colleagues with great skills to learn from.” –  Continental Airlines Manager (Location n/a)
  • “Management is very supportive & communicative, and you are empowered to succeed to the best of your abilities. If you’re willing to work hard, you will be rewarded.” – Continental Airlines Senior Analyst Revenue Management (Houston, TX)
  • “Unstable industry environment makes for ulcers at an early age. Prospect of furloughs and pay cuts very real if you lack many years with the company.” – Continental Airlines Airport Agent (Houston, TX)

If you are part of the United Airlines or the Continental Airlines families, let us know how your job is going, if you think this merger is good for your job and the company overall and any additional advice you have to offer the CEO.