Continental Airlines will begin offering upgrades on award tickets to elite members, but the benefit won’t be offered until the beginning of 2011 and only elite members who are also the primary cardmember of a Continental Chase Presidential Plus or OnePass Plus MasterCard (currently known as World MasterCard) will be eligible for award upgrades. Currently, elite members only receive complimentary upgrades when flying on revenue tickets. When the policy goes into effect next year, eligible members will receive complimentary elite upgrades on award tickets when flying on Continental Airlines within the mainland U.S., Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean and Central America and on select flights to or from Hawaii, South America and Asia/Oceania. Award ticket upgrades will be prioritized within each elite tier, just behind the lowest revenue fare class.
In addition to award upgrades for elites, Chase is adding other new features and benefits to its Continental Chase Presidential Plus and OnePass Plus MasterCard. Cardmembers now have access to rental car and hotel awards at http://www.continental.com/carandhotelrewards – Cardmembers will also receive benefits and amenities when staying at Chase’s new Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection, which includes over 650 luxury hotels. Guests will receive daily complimentary breakfast for two, early check-in and late check-out, room upgrades and a special amenity such as a spa treatment or welcome gift.
Presidential Plus cardmembers will now receive the new “Blue Carpet Treatment” at the airport, which includes priority check-in, boarding and baggage handling and express security screening at participating airports. Also, the rate at which cardmembers can earn Flexible Elite Qualifying miles (Flex EQMs) is changing. Previously, members could earn 2,000 Flex EQMs for each $15,000 spent with a maximum of 28,000 Flex EQMs per year. Now members can earn 1,000 Flex EQMs for every $5,000 in purchases and there is no limit to the number of Flex EQMs you can earn each year. While OnePass Plus MasterCard members do not have the ability to earn Flex EQMs for spending, OnePass Plus cardmembers will now be able to earn a 10,000 mile bonus each year when they spend $25,000 or more on their card.
Bottom line: The complimentary upgrade benefit on award tickets for select Chase cardholders is still a few months away from being available, but Scott O’Leary, Managing Director of Customer Experience at Continental Airlines posted about the new benefit on FlyerTalk at http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?2643
The response was mostly positive, although not everyone was enthusiastic that only select Chase co-branded cardmembers were eligible to receive benefits. FlyerTalk member DeaconFlyer quipped, “Nice benefits, but does anyone else get the feeling that most airlines, in 10 years, will basically be [credit card] brokers that also own a couple of planes?”