Saturday, July 25, 2009

Alaska and Continental part ways

For ten years, members of Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan have earned miles for flights flown with Continental flights, and Continental passengers have earned miles for flying with Alaska.

On October 25, 2009, the same day that Continental officially moves from SkyTeam to the Star Alliance, that partnership will end.

Most people probably didn't see this change coming. Unlike Continental's relationship with Delta, the Alaska partnership wasn't derived from SkyTeam; it's a bilateral arrangement between the two carriers.

Continental didn't offer an explanation for the change. But observers might note that United Airlines has been making headway in Alaska's home area in the northwest for some time, and dumping the CAL-ALK relationship gives Continental's frequent flyers an incentive to look to their soon-to-be Star Alliance partner for their travels in that region.

I'll miss being able to fly with Alaska and earn miles; it's something that always struck me as special about Continental. More important is whether Presidents Club members will continue to have access to Alaska Airlines' Board Room clubs, which serve tasty soup.

Officially, the issue of the clubs is "still being finalized." But with the ties cut for actual travel, does anyone believe the club reciprocity would continue?

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