It seems that as of a few days ago, Continental has changed the terms of their status match program. Previously, Continental was one of the most generous airlines when it came to status matching, granting matches to even their top tier Platinum status with no flying requirements. You needed to prove you had an equivalent status level with another airline, but still, it was incredibly generous.
Well, they’ve now changed the program to somewhat mirror United’s status match program (as they recently started matching to top tier 1K status as well), requiring a certain number of flown miles within 90 days of the status match to maintain the elite tier for the entire year (or if the match is done after July 1, the status is valid for the entire following year as well). For the Silver challenge 10,000 miles or 15 segments are required, for the Gold challenge 17,500 miles or 22 segments are required, and for the Platinum challenge, 35,000 miles or 40 segments are required.
Those are some very steep numbers!
The most interesting thing to note, though, is that historically status matches were once in a lifetime. Now a status match can be done once every five years, though.
I suspect the whole concept of a challenge is a trend we’ll continue to see at other airlines when it comes to status matching, as fewer airlines want to give away elite status.