One Loyalty Program for Continental and United

June 29, 2011
Laura Mortkowitz

Continental's rewards program has an expiration date. Here's what the transition will look like and other US airlines' programs.

When United Airlines and Continental Airlines announced a merger in May of 2010, many long-time members either airline’s rewards program wondered what that meant for them. On Wednesday, United Continental Holdings, Inc. announced that the loyalty program for United Airlines and Continental Airlines will be Mileage Plus. The switch to a single loyalty program for the airlines — which are still undergoing integration — will begin in 2012.

Dec. 31, 2011

Continental's OnePass loyalty program will end on . Members will be automatically enrolled in Mileage Plus and an amount equal to their OnePass award miles balance will transfer to the Mileage Plus program. And OnePass credit cards will continue to earn miles and benefits in the Mileage Plus program.

Mileage Plus members may earn elite travel benefits, including Premier Access airport services, and have access to a merchandise redemption programs.

Here’s a look at other loyalty programs with major U.S. airlines:

American Airlines

AAdvantage was the world’s first airline loyalty program.

Not only do you earn miles by eating out, staying in a hotel or shopping, but you can earn miles flying with other airlines. There are 23 other participant airlines including British Airways, Qantas Airways and certain JetBlue flights.

Delta Air Lines

Mileage you earn through Delta’s SkyMiles program will never expire. With other major airlines you often have to keep the account active someway.

Southwest Airlines

In the Rapid Rewards program the points you earn when you fly with Southwest are determined by the fare. One will earn you 12 points a dollar, another 10 points a dollar and the third only 6 points a dollar.

US Airways

There are three tiers of awards: low, medium and high. With low awards you can travel with fewer miles accumulated, but seats are limited and blackout dates definitely apply. With medium and high awards you can reserve travel for those dates when low awards don’t apply. You may still have blackout dates.