Continental Elite

Continental Elite

Continental announced through FlyerTalk that there will be two new programs coming mid-2010 to reward elite members: systemwide upgrades and an invitation-only elite tier called Presidential Platinum. These new benefits “are designed to reward those of you who fly and/or spend more than our average Platinum Elite member,” says the CO Insider.

Systemwide upgrades will be offered for those members who earn at least 100,000 elite qualification miles (EQMs) or 120 elite qualification points (EQPs). When you reach this threshold, you will receive four one-way electronic systemwide upgrade certificates for use on Continental, Continental Micronesia or Copa Airlines flights. And possibly the best thing about these systemwide upgrades for these ueber frequent flyers? The upgrades are valid with all published fares, with no upgrade co-pays and are valid anywhere Continental flies–one certificate equals a one-way flight, no matter how short or long.

The systemwide upgrades are also fully transferable to anyone you wish–even when they are not traveling with you. The upgrades will have the same capacity controls as OnePass upgrade awards, meaning R class on Continental and F class on Copa.

Members will start earning toward these upgrades Jan. 1, 2010 for the calendar year and members can start redeeming mid-year. The upgrades are valid for one elite year, which lasts until February of the following year. So the first upgrade certificates will expire February 2012.

The invitation-only Presidential Platinum elite level is linked not only to how many miles you earn but also to how much you spend–$30,000 for this inaugural year. Platinum Elite status is awarded to members who earn 75,000 elite qualification miles or 90 elite qualification points. Benefits of this new highest level include, but are not limited to, top upgrade priority on Continental flights and number three in line behind Global Services and 1K Elite members on United flights when the reciprocal upgrade program with United Airlines takes place mid-year (ahead of United’s mid-tier Executive Elite members); exclusive phone line/VIP desk and what Continental is calling “a little something extra”–members residing in mainland U.S. and Alaska can have the fee waived for the Continental Airlines Presidential Plus World MasterCard which includes lounge access. If you live outside this area, you will automatically receive 25,000 bonus miles. And if you are one of the lofty few who have the 4 Million Miler lifetime benefit which was Platinum Elite for life, you are now Presidential Platinum for life. For the low-down on these changes, visit the FlyerTalk thread at

Bottom line: These changes are proving very popular, especially the systemwide upgrades with their generous “fine print”. The new top elite level addresses the issue that many have been lamenting with several frequent flyer programs–with so many “elites” how does any flyer feel truly valued? And even if you realize that you’ll never hit the $30,000 spend (which will be adjusted per year), if you are a frequent flyer, you might well hit that magic four million and be set with Presidential Platinum for life.

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