Continental Airlines and United Airlines have announced an extensive partnership wherein Continental will join the Star Alliance and members of both frequent flyer programs will be able to earn miles in their accounts when flying either airline and redeem awards on both carriers.
Reciprocal elite customer recognition will apply, as well as airport lounge reciprocity. Under codesharing, there will be a coordinated process for reservations/ticketing, check-in, flight connections and baggage transfer. A joint press release stated, “This work was assisted by the efficiency opportunities identified and relationships developed during the parties’ earlier merger discussions.” Continental plans to transition out of SkyTeam. The airline’s plans to join the Star Alliance, and other planned cooperation, are subject to receipt of certain regulatory and other approvals which will take months and probably as much as a year. There is no set timetable at present as to when members of the frequent flyer programs will be able to start earning when flying on either airline.
But we caution, if you are a Continental OnePass member and have your eye on a partner award flight with Air France, KLM or Aeromexico, for instance, it would be best to move fast and book your award tickets soon because once the changeover from SkyTeam to Star Alliance goes through, these award flight opportunities will be history.
An interesting phenomena has surfaced with this move by Continental looming — we at InsideFlyer have heard that Delta SkyMiles (a current SkyTeam partner with Continental) is conducting a campaign to match the elite status of OnePass members — something that Delta could or would not do when Continental was going to “forever” be a part of the SkyTeam.
We looked closely at the pairing of these two airlines in our Merger Madness cover story in April (www.insideflyer.com/link/?1050)