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United Airlines Issues Update on Computer System Conversion


United Airlines today issued a progress report on its reservations computer system conversion that began on Saturday, March 3. United converted from two reservations systems to one by moving millions of reservations records into a new reservations platform. The conversion is a key step in completing the United-Continental merger, as it enables the new United to serve all customers on the combined network from a single computer reservations platform. In addition, United now has a single web site (united.com) and a single frequent flyer program (MileagePlus) for its worldwide customers.

Since converting to a single system on Saturday morning, United has fine-tuned programming, databases and communications links to improve performance of dozens of other company computer systems and thousands of devices worldwide that interface with reservations data. In addition, United has worked with airlines worldwide as well as industry distribution systems to synchronize its new reservations system with its business partners. United employees at airports and reservations phone-contact centers took 1.7 million hours of training to prepare for the computer changes.

United's conversion to a single passenger service system was the single largest technology conversion in aviation history. While some related technical issues caused airport delays on Saturday, by Sunday, the first full day of operations after the computer conversion, United achieved a domestic mainline on-time performance of 77.1%. That exceeds the on-time performance recorded on the same Sunday a year earlier. As of 2:45 p.m. CST Monday, the airline's domestic mainline on-time performance was 90.6%.

"The teamwork involved in this conversion is unparalleled in aviation history. Everyone--the IT division, airport operations, customer service representatives, reservations agents, flight crews and our alliance and technology partners--performed with the utmost dedication and professionalism," said Bob Edwards, United's chief information officer and senior vice president.

The airline added 600 additional reservations agents worldwide to assist with calls during the transition; however, call volume and handling time continued to be high on Monday. The company is taking further steps to reduce call volume.

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