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Virgin America Links to V Australia, Virgin Blue

It was just two weeks ago that Virgin America added another hotel to its Elevate frequent flyer program, expanding its partner roster to include two rental car companies, two hotel groups, a mileage mall, and a credit card.

Sure, that's a modest lineup compared to the programs of the bigger airlines, which offer opportunities to earn and redeem miles at hundreds of companies representing almost every industry segment.

But while Elevate remains a small program, its growth has been eye-popping. And it's been intelligent—the partnerships make sense, and add real value to program membership.

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Today's announcement that Virgin America is linking its loyalty program to Velocity, the program of V Australia and Virgin Blue, extends the winning streak, affording Elevate members additional opportunities to earn points and, eventually, to use their points for free flights to Australia and other Asia-Pacific destinations.

For now, the trilateral relationship is limited to earning: Members of the Elevate and Velocity programs can earn points when flying on any of the three airlines.

The real value of this tie-up will be on the award side. Elevate members will be able to cash in their points for free flights later this year, with prices for V Australia flights starting at 40,000 points.

As welcome as the new partners are, there's another Virgin-branded airline that would be an even more robust addition to the Elevate program: Virgin Atlantic. With that airline's flights to London and beyond, Virgin America could claim to offer worldwide earning and awards.

Not bad for a small program operated by a relatively new airline.

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