With all the airlines announcing new or increased fees in the past couple months in an effort to generate a bit of incremental revenue it is not much of a surprise that Continental pre-announced some new fees today that will go in to effect on August 17th.
The most significant change in the fees is that for changing or canceling a reward ticket. This used to cost $35-50 and in a month that fee will jump up to $150. It will still be free for Platinum Elite members, which I’ll do my best to take advantage of while I still have that status.
Fees are also increasing for the issuing of reward tickets within 3 weeks of travel (formerly 2 weeks). I’m a bit torn on this one as it will still likely be less expensive than buying the tickets outright, but it doesn’t actually cost the airline any additional money to issue the ticket today or in three months, and generally availability starts to open up again closer to the date of travel if seats aren’t selling, so this cuts both ways a bit.
If you like to buy a coach ticket and use miles to upgrade to BusinessFirst the cost will be increasing there as well, between $50 and $100 each direction. I actually think that this increase is completely fair, but I also never use this benefit (once, 4 or 5 years ago), so I’m probably not a good bellwether for it. Overall it seems that the costs would be about $2000-2500 (including the value of the miles) for the cash+miles ticket, which seems reasonable. It was better when it was only $1700-2200, but it happens.
Continental is also now removing the ability to hold tickets. All tickets will need to be purchased at the time of making the reservation. The good news is that here will be a 24-hour window for free changes/cancellations, but the no hold rule is a bit tough, especially if you’re trying to put together a round-trip itinerary and only one direction is available. If you don’t have enough miles they’ll give you 3 days to get them, which is good. And if you want to pay via Western Union you’ll still have the opportunity to hold the ticket until you can get to the Western Union facility or change your mind and pay with a credit card (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
And finally, in a separate announcement Continental indicated that the in-cabin fee will be increasing from $100 to $125 effective this past Tuesday. This fee used to be $95 only a few weeks ago, so the increase is pretty significant. Even worse, the payment of the fee doesn’t actually get the passenger or the pet any particularly great benefits. They actually have to substitute the pet for their carry-on bag, and pay $125 for the luxury of doing so. They also cannot sit in a bulkhead or exit row or in the BusinessFirst cabin on any planes. And Continental charges them a lot of money for that luxury. Not good, though I don’t have a pet so again not directly affected.
On the plus side, Continental is getting newer life vests that are lighter and more durable to help reduce weight on the planes, so that should help mitigate future fee increases, or something like that.
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