United and Continental will now let you move miles back and forth between your own accounts in the two frequent flyer programs.
This is great to combine balances towards an award. It also means that effectively, Starnet blocking is dead, at least until the programs are actually combined. Because unless they’ve imported the architecture to do it over onto the Continental Onepass side, you could always just move your United miles over to Continental to book an award ticket. So at least for those in the know, if not for everyone, we’ve got full access to Star Alliance partner award inventory with United miles through the end of the year.
You can transfer miles once per 24 hours, in 1000 mile increments and up to 200,000 miles per transaction.
You can also combine your account activity. So if you’re an elite member of one program, you can be an elite member of both. (Great for flying Continental if you have United status and vice versa.) And your elite qualifying miles and segments will be pooled towards higher status and more earned upgrades. They have thought this through, though — you have to designate one account as ‘primary’ for earning upgrades, you cannot just be a top tier elite with both and have your flown miles count towards international upgrades in both programs, effectively double dipping. That’s more than fair…