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A Quick Warning about Continental’s Auto-Checkin Feature

A quick bit of background: I flew out to Indianapolis yesterday (sexy!) on a flight I booked with Continental, but was actually a United flight, though it was operated by Shuttle America, a division of Republic Airways. Whew.

Before I get into my main point, I wanted to correct something I said several years ago. When airlines began adding first class seats to regional jets, I pooh-poohed the whole thing as rather unnecessary given the length of regional jet flights. Well, those flights have gotten longer, and with about half of all domestic flights being operated by regional jets, perhaps it’s not so goofy. And as I sat in the first class cabin on the Embraer 170 yesterday, I realized that I was wrong – even on a 2 hour flight, it’s pretty nice. I wouldn’t actually pay for it, but sitting on the “1″ side of the 1-2 configuration, it felt like a private plane. With 50 seats on it.

Anyway, that wasn’t my point. My point was that Continental has a feature where you can be automatically checked in for your return flight when you check in for your outbound. So far, so good. However, I was trying to confirm a standby on an earlier flight today. So I called Continental and asked to be moved to an earlier flight.

Well, they said, you’re booked on a Continental flight but the flight you want to standby on is actually a United flight. They transferred me to United. United told me that they’d be happy to confirm me on the earlier flight, except that because I’m checked in with Continental they can’t actually book me on the earlier flight.

My point: if you think you may want to return on an earlier flight, DO NOT use the auto-checkin feature with Continental, as you may end up actually reducing your options.

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  1. I believe the Embraer 170 is actually a 70-passenger plane. And your “flight change” problem could have been avoided if you had booked the flights as “true” United flight numbers.

    • Yes, it’s 70 passengers. This was a work trip and I relied (unfortunately) on corporate travel to book the ticket. That said, it’s still a bit confusing right now with which flights are United vs. which flights are Continental and what that means for the passenger (ie, my car service was very confused about which terminal I was arriving at in Newark).

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