Continental Airlines recently made changes and raised fees on award tickets and upgrade co-pays. All customers, including OnePass elite-level members, are now required to purchase and book award tickets at time of reservation as reservations will no longer be held before payment.
You can make changes without incurring any award change fees if you request changes within 24 hours. OnePass members who are short a few miles for an award will have a three-day window in which to purchase or transfer the necessary miles into their account.
OnePass members who make changes to a ticketed award or request a mileage redeposit after the 24-hour window will be required to pay a $150 fee, up from $35-$50. And members who book an award ticket within 21 days of departure will be charged $75. Previously, the close-in ticket fee was $35-$75 for travel within 14 days. Elite members continue to be exempt from award change and redeposit fees and close-in ticket fees for elites will remain $35 for travel between 4 and 14 days prior to departure and $50 for travel within three days.
The one-way service fee for BusinessFirst upgrade awards will increase either $50 or $100 from most fare classes. The co-pay for H fares is $100 ($200 from Hawaii), K/M is $250, N/B is $350, O/V is $400, U/Q is $450 and all other fares is $500. To view all of the changes, go to http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?1117
The response to Continental’s changes on FlyerTalk was as usual mixed and many members didn’t think the increased fees were all that bad. One FlyerTalk member took into account the financial difficulties the airlines are facing and remarked, “We all understand the challenges that airlines face right now. I for one support any reasonable actions that Continental takes to generate more revenues. These changes are more than reasonable!”
At the other end of the spectrum, some FlyerTalkers discussed the increasing fees as the beginning of the end of free travel and used terms such as “death by fees”. Another commented, “These changes are yet another sign that ‘free travel’ using frequent flyer program miles is going the way of the dodo and the program is headed toward being little more than ‘somewhat discounted travel’ using FFP miles.”
Others searched for a silver lining, “The one good thing about that $150 redeposit fee on free tickets is after Aug. 17, people won’t simply cash in figuring if they don’t use [the award ticket] they will simply redeposit or change dates, etc. Now when someone cashes in they will want to be 100 percent sure they will actually use what they book or they won’t book. Assuming Continental doesn’t play around with offering fewer award seats, then we should be seeing in time more availability.”