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United, Continental Match American's Elite Offer

In yesterday's blog about American's new double elite-qualifying miles promotion, I wondered out loud whether other major airlines would match the offer, suggesting that in today's uncertain business climate, the usual dynamics of the market didn't always apply.

Tumultuous times notwithstanding, United and Continental apparently were not about to allow American to potentially siphon off their elite flyers—the industry's most profitable customers—and have announced their own elite promotions.

Through June 15, members of Continental's OnePass and United's Mileage Plus programs can earn double elite-qualifying miles (EQMs) for all qualifying flights. Registration is required, and only flights booked and flown after registering will earn the bonus. The bonus miles count toward elite status, but cannot be redeemed for awards.

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The offers exactly mirror American's and are clearly a competitive counter-response.

Like American's, United's program has three elite tiers—Premier, Premier Executive, and 1K—earned by flying 25,000, 50,000, and 100,000 EQMs respectively. Continental's program also has three tiers—Silver, Gold, and Platinum—but top-tier status is awarded after 75,000 miles.

The bonus miles will help less-frequent flyers achieve entry-level status, and more frequent travelers upgrade from lower to higher elite tiers.

With such bonuses now on offer from three of the largest U.S. airlines, the pressure on Delta to respond with a matching promotion increases considerably. In an email, Delta was not ready to make any announcements but allowed that "we are currently reviewing the American and United promotions."

Stay tuned.

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