HUGE Continental changes!

Per CO Insider on FlyerTalk:

Hi Everyone, today we’re announcing the introduction of a first checked bag fee, as well as our 2009 OnePass program changes. Of course, we would’ve preferred to announce these policy changes along with the changes announced back in July and August, but unfortunately this simply wasn’t possible. Like these other changes, our rationale is the same: we are defraying the high price of fuel, which even at current levels presents a serious challenge for us. While you won’t see us making some of the changes our competitors are making, like the elimination of Elite bonuses or fuel surcharges on rewards, we did have to make some difficult program decisions that could impact you.

Here are the changes we’re announcing today:

  1. First Checked Bag Fee. For travel within the U.S. and between the U.S. and Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada, customers will be charged $15 for the first checked bag. This fee will apply to tickets issued effective today, Sep. 5, 2008 for travel on or after Oct. 7, 2008. OnePass Elite members, SkyTeam Elite members, anyone else eligible for EliteAccess (including full-fare Y class and Chase Presidential Plus cardmembers), and avtive military personnel traveling on orders will be exempt.
  2. Elimination of the 500-mile minimum. Continental will discontinue awarding a minimum of 500 base miles and Elite Qualifying Miles for flights operated by Continental, Continental Micronesia, Continental Express and Continental Connection that are less 500 miles. This applies to travel booked on or after Nov. 15, 2008 for travel on or after Jan. 1, 2009. The 500-mile minimum will still apply to flights operated by Copa Airlines, Aero República, Hawaiian Air, Island Air, U.S. Helicopter and SNCF Rail. Amtrak minimum earnings will remain the same as well.
  3. Elite Bonus Mile Changes. We will continue to award Elite mileage bonuses, but will be making changes to the bonuses awarded to Silver and Platinum members. Effective for travel on or after Mar. 1, 2009, Platinum Elite members will earn a 100 percent mileage bonus (instead of 125 percent) and Silver Elite members will earn 25 percent (instead of 50 percent).
  4. OnePass Reward Changes. We will be adjusting our reward levels for travel between Tel Aviv and North America (series 10B) and between Tel Aviv and Hawaii (series 10C). For these rewards, the SaverPass rewards for both cabins will increase by 20,000 miles and EasyPass Rewards will increase by 50,000 miles for BusinessFirst tickets.

More information about these changes will be posted on continental.com shortly.

Talk about hitting us with all the bad news at once! The first checked bag fee really isn’t surprising, I saw that coming. The elite bonus mile changes and elimination of 500-mile minimums are obviously to get in line with UA, in preparation for the partnership and them joining Star. That being said, it only gets in line with UA on the surface. I’ve considered switching some flying to CO for a while now mainly because of the 125% mileage bonus. While UA only offers 100% bonus for their top tier members, UA has so many other things going for them — the ability to actually use your hard earned miles, systemwide upgrades, confirmed regional upgrades, etc.
The reward changes really aren’t too bad, we’re just talking about TLV here, although those are some hefty increases.
Well, for a long time the speculation was that UA would return the 500-mile minimums as soon as the partnership started, but I guess this answers that question….

Comments

  1. Time has expired for the CO it seems as well. It has to be only a matter of time before the MP redemption changes to be more strict and more tiers. That is just my guess, but it has been too good for too long, granted, finding seats for a lot of people seems to be a greater challenge. Not everyone is as Lucky as Lucky. 🙂

  2. FWIW, I have a friend within UA (Manager, Vendor Management) who tells me that CO is more than simply joining Star Alliance — it is UA’s intent to enter into an very integrated partnership with CO (similar to, but even tighter than, their current relationship with LH).

  3. In doing some more independent research on the topic, I realize now that the above is not exactly “news” — so I appologize for stating the obvious. My bad!

  4. It looks like CO is trying to align their frequent flyer program with United’s Mileage Plus so elite bonuses are 25 and 100 for the various levels. IIRC, CO Plat requires only 75K miles.

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