Joe Sharkey, who writes a business travel column for the NY Times, offers an open letter to Continental Airlines that speaks for many of us who feel loyal toward the airline. Sharkey writes that he took a 30 hour trip to Alaska late last year as a mileage run to maintain his Platinum Status. He was then dismayed when he sat in middle seats back and forth to Florida last week. Hi laments the shrinking availability for first class upgrades, wondering what his loyalty has earned him (Continental, for its part, says that it will now reward upgrades in large part based on fare paid). Sharkey says now, "I’m opting out of the annual elite-status marathon and looking around the industry for alternatives who don’t play games…" I know how he feels.