Sorry to see Continental Airlines cave in like a $3 suitcase:
Continental -- by mine and most other accounts the best domestic major airline -- has gone over to the Dark Side and put the screws to its frequent fliers who fly short hauls, by eliminating the 500-mile minimum of elite-status points and frequent flier miles for any trip flown, no matter what the length. It's effective in January.
I simply do not understand that move, which matches similar bone-headed moves by US Air and others in punishing frequent fliers. I mean, with more than 10 trillion frequent flier miles outstanding in the universe (by Randy Petersen's count), where is the percentage in this for an airline that's interested in not further infuriating its most loyal customers? Miles are Monopoly money, fer chrissake.
I've said that maintenance and safety are the next big airline story. The second next big airline story is the frequent-flier-miles house of cards. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, Continental also will begin charging for the first checked bag.
Here's the e mail Continental sent to its OnePass elite-status members today:
"Our OnePass members are important to us, so we are making every effort to keep you informed of some changes to our checked baggage policy and the OnePass program.
Effective Oct. 7, 2008, customers will be charged $15 for their first checked bag when traveling on tickets purchased on or after Sept. 5, 2008, within the U.S., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada.
Because you are an Elite member, you are exempt from paying the fee and will be allowed to check your first bag free of charge. Customers traveling with you are also exempt from the fee as long as they are traveling in the same reservation.
Effective for travel on or after Jan. 1, 2009, OnePass members will earn the actual miles flown rather than a minimum of 500 miles per flight for tickets purchased on or after Nov. 15, 2008. This affects base miles and Elite Qualifying Miles on flights operated by Continental* and most OnePass airline partners.
Also effective for reward travel booked on or after Jan.1, 2009, reward travel mileage requirements will increase for customers traveling between North America and Tel Aviv (TLV) and between Hawaii and Tel Aviv.
Effective for travel on or after March 1, 2009, Elite Mileage Bonuses will decrease for Platinum members from 125% to 100% and for Silver members from 50% to 25% for tickets purchased on or after Nov. 15, 2008. Gold members will continue to earn 100% mileage bonuses.
Full details of all changes can be found at continental.com.
We appreciate your business and look forward to serving you soon."