updated 9/24/2008 5:43:02 PM ET 2008-09-24T21:43:02

In a partial reversal, Continental Airlines will let its best customers continue to earn a minimum of 500 frequent-flier miles even on shorter trips but will take the benefit away from other passengers.

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Spokesman Dave Messing said Wednesday that the carrier has informed elite members of its OnePass loyalty program that they will still receive the minimum award.

OnePass elites fly at least 25,000 miles a year, Messing said.

Continental announced this month that beginning with flights next year, all OnePass members would earn the miles they fly instead of getting a minimum 500 miles even for shorter trips.

But faced with complaints from frequent fliers, the company notified elite OnePass members this week that the change wouldn't affect them.

The change in minimum mileage for less-elite OnePass members will take effect with tickets bought on or after Nov. 15 for travel on or after Jan. 1.

Airlines have been raising fees, including some for frequent fliers, as they battle high fuel costs that led to large losses for most U.S. carriers in the first half of this year.

UAL Corp.'s United Airlines ended its 500-mile minimum reward in July.

Next week, American Airlines will begin charging frequent fliers $50 and 15,000 air miles to upgrade from economy coach on one-way domestic flights. American, the nation's largest carrier, also raised fees for upgrades on international trips.

Delta Air Lines Inc. recently announced it would give frequent fliers a guaranteed ability to redeem miles for a free trip but potentially at a cost of many more miles.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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