Continental's Program Is Latest Mileage Casualty

"We want to keep you up to date on some future program and travel changes."

When those words come from your frequent flyer program, you know there's bad news to follow. In this case, the announcement was from Continental. And the bad news for members of the OnePass program is as follows:

Minimum Mileage Change

For flights booked on or after November 15, and taken on or after January 1, 2009, OnePass members will earn the number of miles actually flown on Continental and most other OnePass partner airlines.

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The industry standard has long been that frequent flyers earn a minimum of 500 miles, even for shorter flights. In May, US Airways suspended its 500-mile-minimum policy, awarding the actual number of miles for all flights. And now, Continental is following in its footsteps.

Elite Bonus Reductions

For tickets purchased on or after November 15, for travel on or after March 1, 2009, elite bonuses for Silver and Platinum members will decrease—from 50 percent to 25 percent in the former case, and from 125 percent to 100 percent in the latter. Bonuses for middle-tier Gold members remain at the current level, 100 percent.

Award Increase for Tel Aviv Awards

Effective January 1, 2009, the number of miles required for award travel from North America and Tel Aviv will increase.

Bag-Fee Waiver for Elites

Continental also announced today that it will roll out a $15 fee for the first checked bag.

As has been the case with many of these nuisance fees, Continental's bag fee is being waived for elite members of the OnePass program. So once again, bad news for the masses has a silver lining for the few.

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