So the anticipated announcement of EliteAccess may have been no big deal… but just a day later Continental dropped a bombshell:
Beginning in 2004, miles flown on discount fares will only count 50% towards elite qualification. There’s a semi-out, though. You can continue to earn full elite qualifying mileage on discount fares for flights through June 30, 2004 by booking online. After June 30, 2004 it appears as though all low priced tickets will accumulate one elite mile for every two that are flown.
For non-elites, this is a non-issue … this change only affects elite qualifying mileage. Regular miles that are used for award tickets are unchanged. (You still earn one of these for each mile flown, even on cheap flights.)
One additional change is more expensive mileage upgrades. International K fares (the third from highest fare class) will require $200 to upgrade in addition to miles. Domestic upgrades from discount fares will require 15,000 miles each way (up from 10,000).
Update: The main webflyer site offers a longer discussion of these changes.