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Continental Will Reduce Award Availability

Here's the latest bad news for members of Continental's mileage program:

Effective Sept. 3, 2008, EasyPass Rewards for travel on Continental will be subject to capacity controls, and seats may not be available on certain flights where demand is high. OnePass Elite members will be exempt from this change.

EasyPass is Continental's term for unrestricted awards, which generally cost twice as many miles as the capacity-controlled SaverPass awards, but allow OnePass members access to all unsold seats when redeeming miles. With the change, of course, the term 'unrestricted' will no longer apply.

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Delta did the same thing late last year, decreeing that some flights would have no award seats, even for SkyMiles members willing and able to redeem more miles to circumvent capacity controls. But Delta recently rolled out a new three-tier award chart that includes last-seat availability in the third and most expensive category (60,000 miles for a domestic round-trip).

Which raises the question: Is Continental planning to do what Delta did and eventually restore last-seat availability at a premium price?

Whether they do (in which case some award prices will be raised) or don't (in which case award availability will be restricted), Continental has given OnePass members a reason to look for an alternative mileage program.

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