Continental seems to be dribbling out their Onepass program changes rather than announcing everything at once. In July it was no more award holds and greater fees. Now they’re putting an end to last seat availability unless you’re an elite member of their program.
Used to be that if you were willing to spend additional miles (and recently on Continental it’s been a lot more miles) you could get any seat on any Continental flight. According to Continental’s Scott O’Leary in a post on Flyertalk they’re taking this away.
EasyPass Rewards will have some capacity controls and may not be available on certain flights where demand is high. In these cases, availability of EasyPass rewards on Continental will be based on R class availability for front cabin rewards and M class for main cabin rewards.
The change also extends to COPA and KLM flights, but Northwest flights will still offer last seat availability. KLM business class rulebuster awards strike me as especially restricted, allowing redemption only when Z inventory is available — that’s the deeply discounted fare class used, for example, for 50-day advance purchase premium cabin leisure fares.
The value proposition truly has been broken. Delta started it by taking away last seat availability, only to reintroduce it with a new higher 3rd redemption tier (and promoting that as a new exciting benefit – hah!). Now Continental has seized on the idea as well. As if Continental miles weren’t of limited value to begin with (some hope for redemption via the coming Star Alliance membership notwithstanding).