The company's adjusted profit was well ahead of the average estimate of 20 cents per share from analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.
Quarterly revenue totaled $2.86 billion, a gain of 12 percent from $2.55 billion a year earlier.
Continental, the nation's sixth-largest airline, said its traffic grew 7.2 percent and capacity increased 4.2 percent. Its planes were 80.4 percent full for the quarter, compared with 78.1 percent a year ago.
Fuel costs swelled 48.6 percent to $575 million in the quarter, the company said.
Continental shares rose 6 cents to $15.76 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of AMR fell 7 cents to $14.16, while Delta's rose 4 cents to $3.91.