In a really close race, the ballots have been counted and the winner of the 2010 Star Mega Do 2 swag bag recognition award goes to US Airways — everything in the bag, including the bag itself was useable. I mean, when is the last time you took home a real cactus from a mileage run? Point made!
OK, you’ve heard rumors of us being dragged out of bed against our will to make the 5 a.m. buses to the terminal. You’ve heard of the champagne-fueled sendoff and of course rumors of us partying in the aisles of CO charter flight #1905 and emptying even more champagne bottles before landing in PHX at 7:45 a.m. Well, that’s all true. There is no denying that we are having a ball. With US Airways Chairman Doug Parker speaking to us all — very straight, very forward and highly entertaining — I realized we have no badge for this event, but we did get this very, very nice gift. US Airways has been an extremely generous host and we could not have been treated better.
StarMegaDo 2010 kicked off at the ungodly early hour of 5am today with the first round of transfers to the airport from the hotel. By 6am the last group was climbing on the shuttle buses and we’d put away a half case of Veuve in celebration of the crazy that we are. The folks unlucky enough to be on the earliest buses were rewarded with the opportunity to visit the flagship Continental Presidents Club in Terminal E while the rest of us barely cleared security in time to get to the plane on time.
Boarding was somewhat chaotic – you’d think a group of 200 frequent flyers would be better at getting their bags in the overheads – but we pushed back on time and cruised west from Houston at 36000 feet through cloudless blue skies. It was a beautiful day for flying. Oh, and we did have the oldest unaccompanied minor ever to fly on Continental with us as well. In case you’re curious, he is a big baby, but also a great guy.
The in-flight service was truly special. One of the flight attendants is an avid participant in the FlyerTalk community and managed to trade to pick up the trip at the last minute. The entire in-flight crew was phenomenal, pouring bottle after bottle of Monopole (and whatever other drinks were ordered) and serving up a hot meal for us as well.
The service was more than I’ve had on just about any flight in the past couple years. I mentioned that to one of the flight attendants and she noted “we haven’t worked this hard on a two hour flight since the MD-80s.” Yeah, that was a long time ago. Still, they were working with smiles on their face and having a blast traveling with us
Wheels down in Phoenix was right on time. We deplaned into buses where most of the group headed to a reception with US Airways while a smaller group headed west to Goodyear Field to visit Airline Training Center Arizona, the Lufthansa flight training facility where all of their pilots learn to fly.
So we’re mostly working on very little sleep and quite a bit of Champagne. Doesn’t seem like all that bad a deal to me at all.
It’s 6:15 AM, and most of the Mega DO is eating breakfast in the Terminal E President’s Club before their 7 AM departure to PHX aboard CO 1905. There’s not much to say about last night’s first Frequent Traveler Awards that hasn’t already been said on FlyerTalk or at the awards site itself, other than that it was an unqualified success and that the after-party ran a little bit late for a 5 AM (in coach), 5:30 (in Randy, Tommy, and “Marty” class) or 5:45 AM (in first) wakeup call.
Check in throughout the day for coverage of the ride in each class, along with reports from US Airways in Phoenix and the Boeing assembly line at Paine Field. The last day of SMD 2010 will no doubt be the longest!
CONTINENTAL AIRLINES JOINS STAR ALLIANCE
Strategic Network Expansion in the Americas, Asia and Europe
New York/Newark Becomes New Star Alliance Hub
NEW YORK CITY, USA – October 27, 2009 – The CEOs of the Star Alliance member carriers today welcomed the alliance’s 25th member: Continental Airlines. Continental’s joining Star Alliance will further enhance the alliance’s three main customer benefits: global reach, worldwide recognition and seamless travel. Continental’s membership follows last year’s announcement of a strategic partnership between Continental and United Airlines. Experts from both airlines and Star Alliance have been working together over the last 18 months in order to ensure the first successful transition of a major airline from one global alliance to another.
“Bringing Continental Airlines into Star Alliance has been a truly unique experience. This is the first time an airline has moved directly from one alliance to another and I would like to thank all those involved in ensuring a smooth switch,” said Jaan Albrecht, CEO Star Alliance. “Our travelers can now begin to appreciate the advantages Continental brings to the Star Alliance network, while Continental’s customers now enjoy enhanced alliance benefits.”
“Continental’s transition to Star Alliance is one of the most important strategic moves we have accomplished in my career at Continental,” said Chairman and CEO Larry Kellner. “Our membership in Star Alliance positions us to deliver a broader network to our customers, and to achieve better business results and a stronger future for my co-workers, our customers and communities as a result of the benefits from participating in the world’s largest airline alliance.”
“Continental’s joining makes the Star Alliance network even more extensive, offering our customers the broadest global access and greatest choice of service,” said Glenn Tilton, chairman and CEO of United Airlines. “We welcome our partner, Continental, which brings tremendous value to our customers, our employees and the communities we serve.”
Due to the limited overlap between Continental’s and Star Alliance’s networks, Star Alliance customers now have a choice of 19,500 daily flights serving some 1,071 airports in 171 countries. The main network enhancements are taking place in North America, to and from Latin America, as well as across the North Atlantic and the Pacific.
In North America, Continental adds its three hubs – New York/Newark, Houston and Cleveland – to the network, providing more choice to Star Alliance customers. Continental’s extensive Latin America network will increase travel options for Star customers to Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
Across the North Atlantic, Continental will also add choice for Star Alliance travelers, especially on the very important New York to London market. Options in the Pacific region are enhanced by Continental’s trans-Pacific flights to mainland China, Hong Kong and Japan, and by Continental Micronesia flights centered on Guam.
In addition to the network benefits, Continental flights can now be used to create itineraries for the Star Alliance Round the World fare as well as for the North American Airpass. Moreover, Continental will sell all 13 Star Alliance fare products and as well as participate in the Star Alliance Conventions Plus product.
As part of its Star Alliance membership, Continental OnePass members will now be able to earn and redeem miles on all other Star Alliance member carriers. OnePass Gold and Platinum Elite members automatically have Star Alliance Gold Status, and will receive benefits such as access to more than 954 lounges, extra-baggage allowance, priority baggage delivery, dedicated check-in counters and priority waitlist (reservation) and airport stand-by. OnePass Silver Elite have automatic Star Alliance Silver Status, entitling them to priority waitlist (reservation) and airport stand-by.
Participants in any of the existing Star Alliance Frequent Flyer Programmes can now earn and redeem miles on Continental. Moreover, OnePass members will be able to use their miles as part of Star Alliance Upgrade Awards for a one cabin upgrade when travelling on participating* Star Alliance member carriers.
The Star Alliance network aims to provide fast and convenient connections for customers needing to transfer between flights of different Star Alliance member carriers. Effective immediately, through check-in from the originating airport is available for any itinerary involving a Continental flight in conjunction with another Star Alliance flight. In addition, all Star Alliance Connection Centres will now also encompass all flights operated by Continental. These special behind the scene centres look after passengers and baggage transferring between Star Alliance member carriers, in case of flight irregularities. These centres are currently in operation at selected airports across the network like, Frankfurt, Munich, Chicago, Los Angeles, Tokyo-Narita and Bangkok. Moreover, plans are already underway to co-locate member carriers in the same airport area or terminal at numerous destinations served by Continental. By the end of this year Continental will have physically moved airport operations at 11 airports around the world. For instance, on October 27, Continental moves to Terminal 1 at Frankfurt and on November 1, to the South Wing of Terminal 1 at Tokyo/Narita. Other airports where co-location moves have been made include: Beijing, Chicago, Honolulu and Shanghai.
About Star Alliance:
The Star Alliance network was established in 1997 as the first truly global airline alliance to offer worldwide reach, recognition and seamless service to international traveller. Its acceptance by the market has been recognised by numerous awards, including the Air Transport World Market Leadership Award, Best Airline Alliance by both Business Traveller Magazine and Skytrax. The member airlines are: Adria Airways, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Blue1, bmi, Continental Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI, United and US Airways. Aegean Airlines, Air India, Brussels Airlines and TAM have been announced as future members. Overall, the Star Alliance network offers 19,500 daily flights to 1,071 airports in 171 countries.
* the following member carriers currently offer Star Alliance Upgrade Awards:
Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Continental Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI and United