With the exception of the expanded route network and ability to search for Star Alliance partner awards online (which actually hurts my award consulting business), I cannot point to many changes I like in the new world of Continental Airlines taking over all but the United name. But I did stumble upon something else today that may prove to be helpful: additional award inventory in premium class cabins on United flights for Mileage Plus members with Platinum, 1K, or Global Services status.
Darren complied this very nice chart of the new United booking classes and you'll note that in addition to XN (elite saver economy class, which legacy United had offered to 1K and Global Services members), there is now IN (elite saver business class) and ON (elite saver first class):
In searching for award space today, I noticed that on quite a few international routes (e.g. SFO-FRA, ORD-MUC, ORD-BRU, IAD-GVA) there were at least two elite saver seats released in first class. As near as I can tell, United has not simply zeroed out the O and I (normal first and business class award buckets) and made the space for elites only, but has actually released additional award seats for upper-tier elites.
That's a change I like.