Monday, November 2, 2009

Continental's approach to award fares makes waves in the Star Alliance

The Washington Times this week drew attention to one of the most significant impacts of Continental Airlines moving from SkyTeam to the Star Alliance: transparency.

All of the Star Alliance airlines have an integrated system called StarNet for booking seats on one another's flights using frequent-flyer miles. Most of the member airlines use proprietary restrictions build into their own award-fare systems to "block" most of the available seats from showing up.

In making its move to the Star Alliance, Continental decided it would join just two other carriers--Air Canada and Japan's ANA--in making the full volume of seats available for booking.

This move gives members of Continental's OnePass program a big advantage over United Mileage Plus or U.S. Airways Dividend Miles program members, who will see only the limited number of seats that their carriers want them to see.

Among other advantages that OnePass offers over its domestic-partner counterparts:
  • Award tickets may include both a stopover and an open jaw (arrive and depart from different airports);
  • Tickets may be routed from North America to Australia via Asia; and
  • Elite members of OnePass are exempt from cash copayments when upgrading using miles.
If you're looking to join a Star Alliance frequent flyer program, these benefits make it more attractive to go with OnePass.

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