Category Archives: Continental Airlines

United Announces Nonstop from Washington, DC, to Honolulu Starting June 7th

It’s always good news when we see new nonstop service from the East Coast to Hawaii. Hawaiian Airlines announced new nonstop service from JFK, which gives those of us in NYC 2 nonstop options to Honolulu (with Continental). Today, United announced that it will launch daily nonstop service from Washington Dulles to Honolulu beginning June 7th.

Flight departs IAD at 12:50pm and arrives at 5:15pm, in time for connections to neighbor islands. (Though to be honest, it may be easier to connect in LAX or SFO and fly directly to other islands). Return departs at 8:05pm and arrives at 11:30am in Dulles, making for a good night’s sleep.

Continental Finishes Economy Plus Rollout on 757-200s – Good News for Coach Flyers to Europe

If you’ve been stuck in coach on a Continental flight to Europe (as I have) you have likely thought to yourself at some point during the flight that you would like 6 additional inches of legroom. Or wondering why you weren’t born about 7 inches shorter. You probably were thinking that as the person in front of you reclined into your lap (which sounds like it could be a good thing under the right circumstances, but I don’t really mean it that way…)

If you’ve been in that seat, we’ve gotten some good news this morning: United (aka Continental) has completed its rollout of Economy Plus across its 757-200 fleet. If you have Gold status or higher, you can pick one of those 45 seats for free when you purchase the ticket; if you have Silver status you can get it at check-in (save your complaints – I know that’s not how it used to be). Everyone else is welcome to purchase it, and at a couple of hundred dollars or so roundtrip, it may be worth it to you.

Those of us who have a rough time in the tight confines of coach on longer flights now have a couple of reasonable options to grab a few more inches of legroom, with Delta offering Economy Comfort on flights to Europe you can grab more room for about $150 per leg. Again, maybe that’s worth it to you, maybe it’s not. But it does make a difference in terms of comfort. And since I really don’t care that much about airline food (or sleeping), especially on the way back from Europe, business class sometimes seems like overkill to me (Dear God, Blasphemer!!!! Travel blogger doesn’t not go nuts about Business Class!!!! Call the Blogger police, now!)

Although the 757-200 sometimes shows up on domestic flights, you’ll generally see it on these routes:

Newark to: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Belfast, Berlin, Birmingham, Copenhagen, Dublin, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Hamburg, Lima, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Manchester, Oslo, Paris, Shannon, Stockholm and Stuttgart.

Washington-Dulles and: Amsterdam and Paris.

Continental No Longer Redemption or Accrual Partner with Virgin Atlantic

This is a bummer: Effective February 13, Continental will no longer partner with Virgin Atlantic for redemption or miles earning. VA was a great option to Heathrow and, clearly, their Upper Class product was a pretty solid option on that route. I’ve seen plenty of times when Continental had no award availability while Virgin had seats in Upper Class wide open. Not a huge deal, but combined with the loss of Emirates a year or so ago, Continental has lost a couple of redemption partners that had pretty good availability to Europe and beyond.

Save 25% on Mileage Awards on United and Continental to Europe and Africa

United and Continental are offering up to 25% on award tickets on flights between the US & Europe and the US and Central/Southern Africa. Book by January 16th and fly January 27th – March 22nd.

You’ll save 25% off coach saver award seats on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and you’ll save 20% off on the other days. If you are using United miles you must fly on United metal; you can fly on Continental metal if you are using Continental miles. Remember, you can freely transfer miles between accounts on each airline.

Round trip coach tickets to Europe are 45,000 miles round trip off-peak and 48,000 peak; Africa is 60,000 off-peak and 64,000 miles for peak.

You have to stay a Saturday night, and you can open-jaw if you stay within the same region (ie, Newark to Paris, return Amsterdam to Newark).

A Word of Thanks, Continental Airlines

I HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM….NOW!!!!

It was right about then, at 705am on 58th Street and the West Side Highway, sitting in the front seat of our car service town car with my wife and the girls in the back seat, that I knew we were in a perilous position to make our 8:40am flight to Curacao yesterday.

Scarlett likes to drop the bathroom bomb on us with little warning, and when she announces her bathroomly intentions, she doesn’t mean that she has to go in a few minutes, she means that she requires a bathroom NOW.

We make our driver crazy and ask him to pull off and over to 10th Avenue and 50th Street where I’m pretty sure there’s a hotel that Scarlett, age 5, can use. We head over, she takes care of business, and we get back in the car.

It’s Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving, so there’s traffic heading out of the city. By the time we arrive at Newark Airport it’s 7:45, which is plenty of time, when I’m traveling alone, to stroll through security, have a cup of coffee and a peppermint at the Presidents Club, and mosey onto my flight.

But I’m not traveling alone, and I’m checking bags, and it’s less than an hour from departure. We head up to drop off our bags and we’re told by the check-in machine that the flight was closed an hour before departure. The check-in machine has no heart and cares not that if we miss Continental’s twice-weekly flight to Curacao we will have no vacation at all.

The gate agent, though, does have a heart, and overrides the machine (a triumph for man vs. computer, finally) and checks us in. Except that she doesn’t. The bag tag system is down, so she needs to manually tag the bags. It’s 8am, and our flight departs in 40 minutes.

She asks us to come with her to another check-in area where they have the manual bag tags and she can get us on our way. But, and I really should’ve seen this coming, Scarlett HAS TO GO TO THE BATHROOM NOW, which, as noted earlier, does not mean in 15 minutes. I tell the agent we have to stay here so the younger of the twins can go to the bathroom.

No problem, she says, and runs to get the tags and brings them back. 8:05, she returns, tags our bags, and says we have zero chance of making the flight if we go through security on our own. She takes the 4 of us pathetic creatures through employee security (“they’re with me…c’mon!”) and then onto a cart (“this is funnnn!!!!”) and we make it to the gate just in time to be the last one’s on. Susan actually hugs and kisses the agent agent, we tell her she’s a rock star, and we get on to the flight with no problem.

That’s the long way of saying Thank You, Catherine Pimentel, gate agent. You saved the vacation and showed that people just need to stop complaining that airlines always treat people like crap. You are a gem.

I’ll bore everyone with details when we’re back, but we used miles to get down here on Continental (no one thinks about going to Curacao as evidenced by the award seats available a few weeks ago for the day before Thanksgiving, and our flight was only 2/3rds full), and we’re going back on American (bought the tickets, but used credit from Capital One Venture deal a while back where you got $1,100 in travel credit).

We’re staying at the Baoase resort, and it is absolutely amazing. Used rest of Capital One credit plus Chase Sapphire Preferred credit to offset some of the cost (sometimes I just like to say in a non-chain hotel). I’ll post some photos when we’re back. I can’t recommend it enough – again, full report early next week.

Happy Thanksgiving from the OTR.

United Announces Rollout Date for First Economy Plus Seats on a Continental Aircraft

Continental flyers who have been excited about the prospect of extra legroom on CO metal will be happy to know that the first Continental plane outfitted with Economy Plus seating will roll out on November 19th. Airline dorks (hey – that’s me!) will also be happy to know the plane will be retrofitted with Channel 9, allowing civilians to listen to cockpit chatter.

The 767-400 (no routes announced) will also feature flat beds up front, an upgrade from the older seats found on Continental’s 767s, as well as improved AVOD and in-seat power in Economy (welcome to 2006, Continental!). I kid. I kid.

The fleetwide upgrade will be done by the end of 2012 or early 2013 (from what I can tell). Those of us who fly CO should be happy about the additional legroom options. I find that for longer flights Continental isn’t really an option if I can’t grab one of the exit rows because of the rather squished 31″ pitch.

Don’t Give Up Yet on Using Miles for that Thanksgiving Trip

I’ve done a number of radio interviews (hi KTRH in Houston!) in the past couple of weeks about whether it’s too late to get a good fare or use miles for your Thanksgiving trip. (We’ll set aside for a moment the question of why I seem to only do radio interviews.) The answer (as you’ve probably figured out from the title) is that it’s not too late to use miles for your Thanksgiving trip. In some cases.

Flights to Europe, especially on European carriers, look quite open over the Thanksgiving break. No, it’s not exactly springtime in Europe, but Paris is in the mid-50s, low 60s, which isn’t bad at all. Air France is showing good availability from the East Coast to Paris over that weekend, including some flights with Premium Economy (not bookable using Delta miles, as far as I know) and business class available, though with spottier availability. KLM looks good to Amsterdam as well.

Continental’s partners, especially Lufthansa, are showing pretty open availability as well. If you’re looking to go, be open to connecting through one of the German gateways, as they’re looking pretty good right now.

Many folks are heading to Florida that weekend from the Northeast, and that’s a tougher ticket. Though a quick check shows that you can grab a Wednesday departure on US Airways from New York to Ft Lauderdale (stopping in Charlotte) with business class seats available. You can book that one-way using Continental or United miles.

Even the Caribbean, at least until quite recently, wasn’t out of the question. A couple of weeks ago we decided to go to Curacao over Thanksgiving and were able to get 4 one-way reward tickets on Continental departing on Wednesday before Thanksgiving (that flight, which Continental flies twice a week and everyone seems to forget about, generally has great award availability, and still had seats open until a couple of days ago, though they’re gone now). Don’t give up all hope: US Airways has availability in business class to San Juan on Wednesday before Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving day (thru Philly or Charlotte), with returns available on Tuesday after the holiday.

As always when using miles, a little flexibility goes a long way.

Should I Get 30% Bonus Miles or 50% Bonus Miles…Hmmmm…

This is a tough one. Which of these two offers should I take advantage of?

The email I received for 30% bonus miles when I buy Continental miles?

Or the email I received for 50% bonus miles when I buy United miles?

Answer?

If you guessed “Neither” you’d be correct. At $376 for 10,000 miles (or 13,000 miles or 15,000 miles), it’s still a bad deal.

Yes, the Continental-Membership Rewards Transfer Is Ending…Chill, Please

Posted on the wall of the OTR office is a sign saying, “Don’t write about what everyone else is writing about.” Hence, that’s why I haven’t bothered to mention the September 30th finale of Continental transfers from Membership Rewards. Everyone else has given their 2 cents. You don’t need mine.

Except, I just think everyone needs to chill a bit here. It’s not the end of the world (the revoking of Presidents Club for Amex Platinum members is much worse). You can still transfer points to Star Alliance carriers Air Canada, Singapore and ANA (which often has much better redemption rates through their mileage-based chart.) Unless you are booking an award on September 30th on Continental, and you’re short some miles, I’d let this go.

(Now I’ll go back to not writing about what everyone else is writing about.)

MileagePlus Announces Details for Combined Program: All Those Revenue-Based Elite Status Rumors Were Nonsense

“Worry is interest paid in advance on a debt that never comes due…” – David Mamet’s The Spanish Prisoner

Remember all that hoo-hah about United moving to a program where you earn status based on spending? Turns out it’s all nonsense.

United has announced the details of the combined MileagePlus program (details here), and while of course some people will whine about anything, it’s hard to dispute that the changes they’ve made are fair.

I’m not going to just recap everything in that link, but the major details are:

- Program will roll out Q1 or so next year.
- 4 Tiers (Silver, Gold, Platinum, 1K – they are keeping Global Service) requiring 25k/50k/75k/100k qualifying miles or 25/50/75/100 segments.
- Gold get 50% bonus miles (instead of 100%), Platinum get 75% bonus miles (instead of 100% before). Other tiers are unchanged.
- Paid First gets 250% bonus miles
- Chicago-Hawaii; intra-Pacific (except HNL-GUM; NRT-BKK; NRT-SIN) eligible for unlimited upgrades
- Silver only get access to Economy Plus 24 hours in advance and only get 1 checked bag.
- Miles expire with 18 months inactivity
- Lifetime miles will be calculated based on butt-in-seat miles, but they will make a 1-time adjustment to boost United BIS miles to Elite miles to match with how Continental was calculating lifetime miles.
- 1 million lifetime miles gets you Lifetime Gold (generous), 2 million gets platinum, 3 million gets 1K, 4 million Global Services. Million Milers can give spouse the same level of Elite.
- Former Infinite Elites will get Lifetime Platinum status (though no Systemwide Upgrades).
- Platinum and 1K get free access to Global Entry ($100 value)

There’s more detail in there, but it seems that they have create a pretty generous program. On Flyertalk there is moaning about some of the details, especially around Silver’s baggage allowance reduction and access to Economy Plus (Silver pretty much is what you get by having their credit card) and Gold Status (Gold members will earn at least 25,000 fewer miles with that bonus reduction). Get over it. This is still a generous program, and for those of us who loved OnePass, there’s little reason to be disappointed with what they’ve done here.