Members of United Airlines' and Continental Airlines' frequent flyer programs who have earned elite status will receive unlimited, complimentary domestic upgrades on flights operated...

Members of United Airlines’ and Continental Airlines’ frequent flyer programs who have earned elite status will receive unlimited, complimentary domestic upgrades on flights operated by both airlines when space is available.

The two airlines announced the service upgrades for their elite-level frequent flyers on November 17.


Continental Airlines’ elite-level frequent flyers also will have complimentary access to United’s Economy Plus seating, offering additional legroom near the front of the Economy cabin. Similarly, United’s elite-level frequent flyers will have complimentary access to Continental’s Premium Seating.

These new benefits will begin to roll out in mid-2010, the two airlines say.

United Airlines Boeing 767-322ER N644UA on final approach to London Heathrow Airport

United Airlines Boeing 767-322ER N644UA on final approach to London Heathrow Airport

Unlimited domestic upgrades and preferred economy class seating for elite-level frequent flyer members are the latest additions to the suite of benefits available to United Airlines and Continental customers since the two carriers announced a wide-ranging global partnership in June 2008 and since Continental joined the Star Alliance on October 27.

Benefits include new access to dozens of cities around the world, recognition of elite status, and the ability to accrue and redeem miles on each other’s flights, the two carriers say.

“The partnership between United and Continental means more comfort and better rewards for our most loyal customers,” says Graham Atkinson, president of United’s Mileage Plus frequent flyer program.

“Continental and United have highly complementary networks that cover the map for business travelers,” says Mark Bergsrud, Continental’s senior vice president marketing programs & distribution. “This announcement is part of our ongoing plan to deliver frequent flyer benefits that offer the best overall solution for the traveler who wants extra space and comfort across the network.”