More great news for top tier elites (and if you’re not a top tier elite, then, well, it’s not all good news). Starting in mid-2010, Continental and United will be offering reciprocal unlimited domestic upgrades for their elites. Via CO Insider on FlyerTalk, the upgrade priority will be as follows:
For travel on United, the clearing order will be:
1. United Global Services
2. United 1K
3. United Premier Executive
4. Continental Platinum Elite
5. Continental Gold Elite
6. United Premier
7. Continental Silver Elite
For travel on Continental, the clearing order will be:
1. Continental Platinum Elite
2. United Global Services
3. United 1K
4. Continental Gold Elite
5. United Premier Executive
6. Continental Silver Elite
7. United Premier
Interestingly enough, United elites seem to have the better end of the deal here. Those of us that are Global Services, 1K, and Premier Executive have nothing to worry about when flying United, as all Continental elites clear after that. On the other hand, when flying Continental, Global Services and 1K members clear right after Platinum members. The shocker there is that United Premier Executive members clear before Continental Platinum members when flying on United, even though the qualification tier for Continental Platinum is higher. I’m betting that was part of the arrangement thanks to the other huge advantage OnePass members are getting with Economy Plus access.
All Continental elites will have access to Economy Plus, while United elites will have access to “preferred” seating on Continental and Premier Executive members and above will have the ability to pre-reserve exit rows.
All that having been said, is this really smart from the perspective of Continental and United? There were reciprocal upgrades back when Continental and Northwest were together, but they only offered 50% elite qualifying miles on most fares in order to encourage passengers to be more loyal to one carrier. In this case, you’re earning full miles (including bonuses) and getting full benefits on either carrier. It’s great for the customer, but not necessarily so great for the airlines.
Of course that brings me to my next prediction, which is that Continental and United will merge in the next 18 months. 😉