United and Continental are uniting. Mind you, they aren't merging. But the two U.S. carriers are going to hook up their global networks. What does this mean? First and foremost, the partnership will include new frequent flier reciprocity so that points can be earned and redeemed on both airlines. Travel on either carrier will count toward earning elite status. And members of either airline's airport lounge program will have access to both Continental's Presidents Clubs and United's Red
Carpet Club lounges.
In the U.S., United and Continental will develop an extensive code-share system. This means that both airlines can continue with plans to reduce the number of jets they each fly, while still providing fairly comprehensive domestic service. For flights that may involve a transfer from a United plane to a Continental plane, there will be a (theoretically) seamless process for ticketing, check-in, flight connections and baggage transfer.
Internationally, Continental will join the Star Alliance, thereby allowing code shares not only with United, but with international partners such as Lufthansa, Thai, and SAS.