Virgin America Upgrades Elevate Program

Virgin America has taken an important step in the direction of developing Elevate into a world-class frequent flyer program.

Effective immediately, Elevate members can earn points for purchases at The Red Store, a network of more than 150 online retailers, including the Apple Online Store, BarnesandNoble.com, BestBuy.com, homedepot.com, macys.com, Target.com, and so on.

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Mileage malls such as The Red Store have become a standard component of the largest airline loyalty programs, and are both the cause and effect of the gradual evolution of the schemes from frequent flyer into frequent buyer programs.

For reasons both financial and strategic, the discount carriers have been slow to add partners to their programs generally, and even slower to add non-travel partners. JetBlue and Southwest, for example, still have no mileage malls linked to their programs.

The opening of The Red Store is an encouraging sign for Elevate members, especially as it comes hard on the heels of Virgin America's addition of Hilton Hotels as an Elevate earning partner.

While it's still a work in progress, Elevate is beginning to live up to its name.

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