Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Continental goes back to the 500-mile minimum

On September 5, we saw Continental make a number of changes to its OnePass program, one of which was eliminating the 500-mile minimum that it had offered for any flight regardless of length. This change brought Continental into alignment with its soon-to-be domestic partner in Star Alliance, United Airlines.

As I said at the time, I was disappointed to see that change. Yes, the airlines are struggling with high oil prices; that's why I didn't grumble more about baggage fees. I also understand that there is a serious risk of "mileage inflation" when airlines start handing out miles for everything without any regard for whether passengers can redeem those miles given available capacity. But we're talking about a difference of maybe 150 miles per flight, which is hardly going to devalue the whole mileage pool. It felt cheap.

Well, a lot of other people agreed--including, it seems, Continental's Managing Director of Customer Experience. Scott O'Leary announced on FlyerTalk.com that, "Elite members will continue to earn the 500-mile minimum for both base miles and Elite qualification miles (EQMs) for flights operated by Continental and our partners," amending the planned change to one that applies to non-Elite passengers only.

No news yet as to whether United or perennial cheapskate U.S. Airways will take similar action.

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