Virgin America and JetBlue both announced major changes to their existing rewards programs on Monday, adding extra benefits for frequent flyers like expedited security screenings, premium seating, additional checked bags, and even a sub-orbital space flight for one lucky member of Virgin America’s Elevate program.
Both airlines timed their announcements to coincide with the Global Business Travel Association’s Business Travel Convention in Boston this week. Top flyers with Virgin America’s Elevate program and JetBlue’s TrueBlue program will get special perks that closely mirror the benefits given to members of some legacy airline loyalty programs. Industry insiders say these upgrades are being designed to increase both airlines’ shares of the business travel sector.
Here are some highlights from both announcements.
Virgin America’s Elevate program:
• Beginning August 8th, Elevate members can earn “elite status.”
• Members who accrue 20,000 elite-qualifying points during a calendar year earn Silver status, and members who accrue 50,000 elite-qualifying points earn Gold status.
• Elite perks include complimentary upgrades to Main Cabin Select at booking; priority first-class check-in, security clearance, and boarding; dedicated elite phone lines; and up to three free checked bags.
• Members with Silver and Gold status earn double points for “checking-in” at airport terminals and gates on social media platforms like Facebook and Foursquare.
• The Elevate member who accrues the most status points between August 8th, 2012, and August 7, 2013, will earn a sub-orbital space flight on Virgin Galactic.
JetBlue’s TrueBlue program:
• Starting this fall, TrueBlue members who have completed 30 one-way flights and earned 12,000 base points, or earned more than 15,000 base points, will be automatically upgraded to TrueBlue Mosaic.
• Mosaic members automatically qualify for expedited security screening; early boarding; the ability to use TrueBlue points to purchase seats with extra legroom; two free checked bags; and access to a dedicated customer service line.
• Members who qualify for Mosaic in 2012 get six free Even More Space seats.
FlyerTalk members have already begun dissecting the details of both programs and discussing whether these new benefits will be enough to lure business travelers away from the legacy carriers they’re used to flying.
Are you an Elevate or TrueBlue members who’s expecting an upgrade in status as a result of today’s announcement? Are any of these benefits enough to get you to switch your flying habits? Let us know in the comments.