It won’t be long until Continental moves from SkyTeam to Star Alliance and OnePass members can expect some changes with the new arrangement. Most of the announced changes will be implemented when the alliance change takes place near the end of October, but some changes will go into effect later this year or at the first of the year.
Effective Oct. 27, 2009, OnePass Platinum and Gold elite members will receive Star Alliance Gold privileges, including priority airport service and access to over 800 airline lounges worldwide when traveling in any class of service on an international Star Alliance itinerary. Same-day change fees will be eliminated for Platinum Elite members on ticket purchases on or after Oct. 1, 2009. Also on Oct. 1, 2009, elite upgrades on Northwest Airlines will be discontinued.
Effective Oct. 27, members will earn 100 percent elite qualification miles and elite qualification points on discounted fares, regardless of where the ticket is purchased. Previously, only tickets purchased at continental.com earned the full 100 percent. Members will no longer earn elite mileage bonuses, elite qualification miles and elite qualification points on flights operated by Emirates, Eva Air, Kingfisher, Hawaiian Airlines, Island Air, Amtrak and US Helicopter. Also effective Oct. 27, elite bonuses will be based on the 500-mile minimum instead of actual miles flown, so you’ll earn more miles on those short hops. The $100 BusinessFirst upgrade co-pay for B fares will be eliminated and say goodbye to the Saturday night stay requirement for domestic SaverPass awards, which will also be eliminated on Oct. 27. Revisions to the award chart go into effect at the same time, and be prepared for increases to mileage requirements on some routes and decreases on others. For the most part, Continental matches new Star Alliance partner United on award prices.
For award tickets purchased on or after Dec. 15, 2009, revised award fees will apply. The fee for award redeposits, itinerary changes and close-in ticketing fees will be identical and will be charged per person instead of per reservation. All three fees will be $75 for OnePass members, $50 for Silver members, $25 for Gold members and free for Platinum members. And effective Jan. 1, 2010, members will earn 125 percent miles on F, C, J and D fares (instead of 150 percent) and 1.5 elite qualification points (instead of two) on F, C, J, D, Z, Y and B.
Bottom line: For the most past, these changes are positive. The redeposit fee and fee for award changes to origin or destination was $150 for all but Platinum elite members and this has been reduced by at least 50 percent. However, the change fees are now assessed per person and not per reservation, which could make changes more expensive for changes to reservations that include multiple travelers.
With SkyTeam, only Platinum elite members received lounge access when traveling internationally and now the lounge benefit has been extended to Gold members as well with the Star Alliance. While there are some increases to the award chart, they are modest. Matching United’s award chart, it will now cost OnePass members 55,000 miles (from 50,000) in coach and 105,000 miles (from 100,000) in first to fly from the U.S. to Europe. Visit http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?1845 to learn more.