Thursday, October 29, 2009

Continental to add fees, review meal policy

Since September 11, 2009, Continental Airlines has lost more than $1 billion. That's according to President Jeffrey Smisek, who on January 1, 2010 will succeed Larry Kellner as Continental's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

Bloomberg has all of the details of an interview with Smisek, but Continental flyers (like me) should be aware that we "absolutely will see change in [Continental's] products."

Everything is on the table. Some ideas, like offering premium non-alcoholic beverages like electrolyte water for the same $5.00 cost that already applies to alcoholic beverages in Coach, would be genuine choices.

Also on the table as a potential cut: complimentary meals.

Continental is the only U.S. airline that offers free meals to Coach passengers. It's something that makes Continental unique.

On the other hand, the airline is losing money. Every other airline that offers meals charges for them and pockets that revenue to shore up the bottom line, and it's not clear that Continental has actually benefitted from increased demand on account of what is frankly a pretty big gesture of goodwill.

"We're either really smart or we're really dumb" for providing free meals, he said. "Time will be a great test of that."

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