I guess they’ve learned some things from politics. The timestamp in my e-mail box is 3:29pm Eastern.
First, Continental will charge $15 for a first checked bag within the US and Canada effective October 7th for tickets purchased from today forward. Elites (including Skyteam elites), first class passengers, and full fare passengers are exempt.
Then come the changes to the frequent flyer program. Here’s the bad news.
Continental is ending 500 mile minimums for short hops effective January 1. They follow US Airways and United on this change. Best strategy is to credit those short flights to another program which still offers minimum mileage.
Very few flyers will find that the 200 or 350 miles will make a difference in award redemption or elite requalification. But it does require vigilance, as accruing more mileage in another program does have that tradeoff for those who need Onepass miles.
Oddly, the change only effects tickets purchased on or after November 15 — so if you get your New Year travel purchases in early you will still accrue the minimum mileage.
Meanwhile, Continental is increasing the mileage requirements for award tickets to Israel.
But here’s the killer: Continental is reducing elite bonus miles from 125% to 100% for Platinums and from 50% to 25% for Silvers. Platinums and Gold elites will both be earning 100% mileage bonuses going forward. At least Continental hasn’t made the suicidal change that US Airways announced, ending elite bonuses altogether! This will hurt Continental elites for sure, but Continental was already quite generous on these bonuses relative to other carriers. (Then again, it was the extra generous bonuses that made the frequent need to spend extra mileage for seat availability somewhat more palatable — Continental prints tons of mileage, and tends to offer relative difficulty in securing award seats on its own planes.)