Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

You probably won't have noticed.

Why should you? You just want a little peace and an on-time arrival.

Last month, however, United Airlines finally integrated the systems it inherited after buying Continental Airlines in the 19th century. 

I'm sorry, that's not quite accurate. It just feels it was that long ago. 

It was actually 2010 when United and Continental came together. It has, though, taken a mighty long time to integrate the two operations.

Of course, the airline isn't just integrating systems and machines. It's also integrating people. 

And there's been a little tension there.

As for the Continental people, well, they have their own complaints.

Recently, when they received the booklets explaining the new system of bidding for flights, they kept seeing the term HDT, referring, it seemed, to the time zone by which they should operate.

Some were confused. Why was the airline asking them to function on Hawaii Daylight Time?

It was only, they say, after they pored through the booklets for some time that they realized this was United terminology for Home Domicile Time.

It's so often the little things, isn't it? 

Here's another little thing that seems to have slipped up the noses of some former Continental Flight Attendants.

They say they no longer get to meet the pilots.

As one former Continental and now United Flight Attendant told me: 

At Continental, upon boarding the plane and having done the safety checks, the Captain would always hold a briefing with the entire crew. No such thing at United, so usually it's not until the entire crew is on the bus to the destination layover hotel that I meet whomever was flying the plane.

Which seems curious. Yet this Flight Attendant says the Captain may not even be on that bus: 

That is, if the pilots actually stay at the same hotel as the Flight Attendants, which is not always the case. So, it's possible to fly across the Atlantic and back never knowing who is up front driving.

Veering toward the comical, one Flight Attendant told me they only get to say hullo to a captain "when commuting to work or back on a jump seat."

Naturally, I asked the airline for its view and will update, should it offer me comment.

My sources tell me, though, that the cabin crew tend to arrive some time before the pilots in order to prepare the cabin.

When the pilots do arrive, I understand many prefer to do the briefing with merely the purser present.

From the passengers' point of view, there's a certain assumption that when the captain says the cabin crew are wonderful -- as they so often do during their pre-flight announcements -- they've actually met.

This may not be the case. 

Which doesn't mean United is so terribly different from its competitors. The airline, similar to, say, American -- places an enormous emphasis on so-called D0, the urge to get the plane out on time at (almost) any cost.

This, no doubt, forces certain compromises.

What the former Continental Airlines employees' perspective highlights, however, are the difficulties that arise when two different cultures are brought together. 

The dominant culture often comes from the dominant partner in the merger. That's not always a good thing. Worse, in essence, United has operated as two airlines for a long time after the merger.

As Flight Attendant from the Continental side told me:

They call this teamwork? 

Another Continental-side Flight Attendant told me that, just a couple of days ago, United may have heard the Continental cries and decided to make pilot-cabin crew briefings mandatory for international flights. Which doesn't mean that all pilots will attend.

The Flight Attendant offered a rueful commentary -- one born, I suspect, of continued merger discomfort:

At United, the left hand sometimes doesn't know what the left hand is doing.

Yes, I've quoted them accurately. 

Published on: Nov 4, 2018