Another Reason Why Continental OnePass is a Joke

Continental is hosting a gathering for its frequent flyers this weekend and one Flyertalker has posted some news.

    international rewad and upgrade travel will see significant mileage increases for the 2006 program year.

    It sounds like Y upgrades to BF to Hawaii will jump to 15,000 miles while discount economy upgrades will cost 35,000 miles in addition to any required fees. Upgrades to Asia will jump to 50,000 miles for discount economy tickets (plus fees) and 25,000 for full Y. Europe will jump to 40,000 and 20,000 respectively.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like offered inventory will change much …nor will the fee for the mileage option on discount economy tickets. Mark Bergsrud mentioned at a Q&A at the ‘Do today that they don’t expect any changes with the system and inventories.

An upgrade award to Hawaii from a discounted fare costs 17,500 miles now plus as much as $450 each way. That’s going to go up to 35,000 miles. Roundtrip that’s 70,000 miles and as much as $900 to upgrade.

In contrast, United offers upgrades to Hawaii from anywhere in the U.S. on any fare for 15,000 miles each way or 30,000 roundtrip. No fee is required.

What possible reason is there again to acquire Continental miles? Conceivably if you live in Houston, but even then you could be a member of Northwest’s program (which is only marginally better) and receive elite benefits. And if you’re not going to earn status and you’re going to fly on Continental for goodness sakes accumulate your miles in a real program like Alaska Mileage Plan.

The increase in upgrade prices remains a rumor, but it’s a sufficiently believable one that it underscores why you wouldn’t want to accumulate miles with Continental whether this particular change pans out or not.

Update: One conceivable reason to accumulate miles with Continental did occur to me, but it’s a fairly limited circumstance. If you live in a Continental hub city and buy discount fares and fly just enough to make elite status and are able to buy your tickets online at you’ll get full elite credit for those flights, which you wouldn’t get accumulating miles in the Northwest program.

So if accumulating miles with Continental makes the difference between elite status and not, and elite benefits are more important than awards, then accumulate those OnePass miles. But don’t delude yourself into believing they’re worth anything.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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