The information we’ve been waiting for from Continental….

The awesome CO Insider posted on FlyerTalk about upcoming OnePass changes, and they’re overwhelmingly positive.

First let’s go with the really, really, really interesting news. Continental has released their award chart for next year, and it’s surprisingly reasonable! Given that Continental is joining Star Alliance I was expecting award prices to be crazy expensive, since they will all of a sudden have access to so much award inventory yet insist they won’t block any partner award space. Surprisingly enough, the award levels for first class are basically the same as what United charges. Don’t get me wrong, there are better value programs out there still, but this is good. For example, first class to Europe or Japan will cost 135,000 miles, while first class to North or South Asia will cost 145,000 miles.

The other good news is that the partnerships Continental has with Emirates and Virgin aren’t ending, so you can continue to redeem miles for travel on those two carriers even when Continental joins Star.

Now, on to the other news, per the thread on FlyerTalk:

OnePass Platinum and Gold = Star Alliance Gold

This was expected. In the past only Platinums had top tier SkyTeam status, which meant Gold members didn’t get lounge access when traveling internationally. Not anymore.

Same-Day Change fees will be waived for Platinum Elite members.

It’s about time!

No more Elite upgrades on Northwest Airlines.

And finally we know the date. I was hoping they would continue to offer reciprocal upgrades until Continental leaves SkyTeam at the end of October, but the Northwest upgrades will actually go away on October 1.

Full Elite Qualification is back. Effective Oct. 27, you’ll earn 100% Elite Qualification Miles and full Elite Qualification Points on discounted fares, regardless of where they’re purchased. To all of our loyal corporate travelers: message received

Smart! For the longest time Continental only offered 50% elite qualifying miles on discounted tickets booked anywhere but I think this also means it’s safe to assume that United isn’t switching to the Continental model on this.

Anyway, there are some other changes which you can read about through the link above, but that’s the exciting stuff.

Now to dream for just a minute — any chance this will pressure United into reconsidering Starnet blocking? Could it be that it will be Continental pressuring United into discontinuing this practice? Keep in mind that if Continental doesn’t block any partner award inventory, it’s in their best interest for United Mileage Plus members to have full access to the inventory, since that will leave less for OnePass members, which means Continental has to pay less to partners. Hmm….

Filed Under: Awards, Continental
  1. …so even though I won’t “jump ship” from UA, I think I will want to maintain CO Plat from now on. Just doesn’t seem to make sense to be a 2K, or 3K plus. I’d rather divert just enough miles from UA to maintain CO Plat.

  2. Lucky,

    How would you rank CO in the star alliance? My wife and I tend to fly CO from west coast to east coast (lovely EWR). I’ve amassed 120k+ on Alaska and now that the partnership is ending I’m looking for the right place to start banking miles. The Chase promotion seems like a good way to jump start an account so I’m leaning towards CO.

    Any tips on using up the Alaska miles for getting to Hawaii?

    Thanks for the great blog. It’s one that I look forward to reading when the new posts come out.

  3. This wasn’t the news we’d ALL been waiting for. 🙂

    I was hoping that they’d announce that they would match the DEQM promos being offered by AA and UA.

    Still, it is nice to have advance notice of such things posted on flyertalk – and, you are right, most of the news is good for loyal CO fliers.

  4. There are a whole bunch of benefits that you didn’t mention that are even better than the ones you did.

    RTW rewards are incredibly cheap by *A standards. And a bunch of other fees that were charged to platinums are also disappearing (and being cut significantly for silver/gold elites).

    More details here.

  5. Woohoo! 1x earning on CO. This opens up a peflora of new routes for me.

    CO will hopefully make UA buck it’s ideas up in some respects (I’ve got my Y class hat on here – I see snacks and personalised IFE… on UA I see BOB, and drop down screens)

    Heck, I’d expect it to give US Airways a major warning.

    As for Starnet… well. Good luck. You’ll need it…

  6. @ Blake — As far as I know they are still matching United status, all the way up to Platinum. I would definitely match ASAP, though, since that could change any day.

    @ HunterSFO — I agree diversification is a good idea, but in some ways Continental is a totally different animal. As you know they have no international upgrade instruments for their elites but they do have complimentary domestic upgrades, although out of SFO you have virtually no chance at a transcon upgrade and upgrades to IAH are somewhat tough as well. There’s no Economy Plus to fall back on either, and to finish it all off they don’t allow convoluted routings like United (more power to ’em). That being said you can usually get an exit row and the entertainment is great, so it’s not all bad. So for many people it’s a good airline, but out of TPA, for example, the best routing I can come up with is TPA-IAH-SFO, which just isn’t all that many miles. What can be said, Continental is smart, and they know they don’t need mileage runners.

    @ ducksman — Thanks for the kind words! The Chase promo is great indeed, and combined with a few other non-flying activities I should have enough for an international first class Star Alliance ticket before I know it. In your shoes there are only three real Star options: CO, UA, and US. Let’s eliminate US, because, well, they’re US. CO is the obvious choice, but transcon upgrades are impossible. So if you’re going for upgrades and want to travel nonstop, CO probably isn’t the best option. If you’re willing to connect you’d have a better shot at upgrades, but they still wouldn’t be easy. Depending on how much you fly, United might make sense, but then again they have Starnet blocking and all upgrades need to be “supported.”

    As far as your Alaska miles go, the best deal for the time being would be Continental or Alaska to Hawaii, but that requires 75,000 miles and the timing for the Continental deal is limited. So that leaves Alaska. I would try to accrue a few more miles, either through a credit card (if you don’t have one already) or through partner offers to get to that 150K mark.

    @ The Travelin’ Man — LMAO about DEQM. Ask and you shall receive. 😀

    @ Wandering Aramean — All valid points. I was typing up my views after a redeye and right before a nap. Time was of the essence.

  7. @Lucky – You bring up very valid points – but my context changes things a bit. The only Int’l flying I will do is going to be on 1st class award tickets (which at UA is a problem with *Net Blocking) so my SWUs pretty much get used as CR1s making SWU not a big incentive for me. As for crazy routings – I only MR on weekends so I can either fit 10,000 BIS into a weekend doing two transcons or only 6000-6500 on a best case scenario “tricked out routing” – I usually choose the two transcons. This is worse now that there are 4 months out of the year I’m “on call” at work and can’t fly. I’m willing to do some time in CO E- with newer planes, free hot meals, and better IFE in an exit row when upgrades don’t clear. I’m curious to see if the U/G situation gets easier when NW elites lose their priveliges on 10/1/09. We’ll see but if CO gives elite bonus for flights on UA metal I think I’ll do a lot of flying UA crediting to CO and some flying CO crediting to CO. I don’t plan to stop going for 1K every year tho – but no more than that. CO can’t seem to get me to LAX or SAN and I don’t want to do that on UA without 1K status.

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