When Continental Airlines new checked bag policy goes into effect on Oct. 7, 2008, Delta Air Lines will be the only holdout of the “Big Six” to not charge for a first checked bag (although Delta charges $50 for a second checked bag, in contrast to the industry standard $25). Continental passengers with tickets purchased on or after Sept. 5 and flying on or after Oct. 7, 2008 will be charged $15 one way for a first checked bag when flying in coach to destinations in the U.S., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada. Elite members, military personnel and their families traveling on official orders and passengers flying in First or BusinessFirst or on full-fare (Y) coach tickets are exempt from the new fee.
An announcement that caused a stir among OnePass elite members on FlyerTalk involves changes to the elite mileage bonus program. Effective March 1, 2009, Platinum elite members will earn a 100 percent mileage bonus (instead of 125 percent) and Silver elite members will earn 25 percent (instead of 50 percent) for tickets purchased on or after Nov. 15, 2008. Gold elite members will continue to earn 100 percent bonus miles. Although this is a blow to elite members, Continental OnePass’ elite mileage bonus now matches what is given to elite members of American AAdvantage, Delta SkyMiles and United Mileage Plus. Northwest WorldPerks awards a 50 percent bonus to its lowest tier members and 125 percent to its highest tier.
In addition to the reduction in elite bonus miles, Continental is eliminating the 500-mile minimum on short flights. For tickets purchased on or after Nov. 15 for travel on or after Jan. 1, 2009, OnePass members will earn the actual flight miles flown on Continental Airlines and most OnePass partner airlines. Members will continue to earn the 500-mile minimum on flights with Aero Republica, Copa Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Island Air and US Helicopter. US Airways and United started the trend earlier this year and Continental is the latest airline to do away with the 500-mile minimum.
And lastly, award travel to Tel Aviv is increasing. Effective Jan. 1, 2009, SaverPass award flights between North America and Tel Aviv (Series 10B) and Hawaii and Tel Aviv (Series 10C) will increase 20,000 miles and BusinessFirst EasyPass award flights will increase by 50,000 miles. Visit http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?1207 for more information.