Continental joins the Spring 2009 double EQM party

Continental Airlines has joined American Airlines and United Airlines in offering double elite miles for travel this spring. Continental’s promotion is actually a bit more generous than that of United and American in that they are offering credit for flights previously booked, not just new spending. The program is valid for travel through June 20, 2009 and it requires registration here.

This makes even less sense to me than the offers from United and American. While those two carriers are looking to drive new revenue for their coffers, the Continental offer actually rewards both new and previously spent money. I’ve already got a couple short trips booked on Continental during the promotion period, so I’ll benefit from this promo. I’m also likely to book another trip or two if I can find a cheap one, so I guess that it will help produce some extra revenue for them from me, but I cannot believe that the revenue I’ll provide comes anywhere close to covering the costs of providing the service to me on the flights I will be booking, both for the immediate flights I will take and also the long term costs of providing me with more upgrades, fee waivers, lounge access, etc.

From the NYC area there are a number of very cheap flights available from Philadelphia to the west coast. They aren’t quite as cheap as the 3x run I did at the beginning of the month on the way to Tokyo, but with the double EQM bonus the cost per EQM is actually about 20% lower. The cheapest fares would seem to only get a 50% EQM bonus, not a 100% bonus, based on the wording in the fine print, but that is not yet confirmed so the exact nuance on those cheapest fares isn’t 100% clear. Still, bonus is good and the prices are low, meaning travel will happen for me. (Now clarified…) Cheap fares booked on get 200% EQMs while those booked elsewhere get 100% EQMs (instead of 50%). Fares typically eligible for 150% EQMs will earn 250%.

Even more interesting to me than the fact that Continental matched this promo is that there are a reasonably vocal number of their frequent fliers who actually didn’t want this promotion to come to Continental. I actually happen to agree with that point of view, as I like taking advantage of the benefits and prefer when they are exclusive, not given to anyone who shows up. It adds value to the program for the customers who actually invest the time and money to qualify. There will be a number of one-hit wonders in all three of these programs this year based on this promotion. It won’t really cost the carriers too much money, but it also won’t generate too much, so I’m not sure where the value lies.

In the meantime, fares are pretty cheap right now and you get double credit for elite status on three of the five majors in the United States. Seems like a good time to go flying. I almost wish I didn’t have so many trips previously booked. Nah…I’ll just book more anyways.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.