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Travel Tip: Tiered Frequent Flyer Programs

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As if frequent flyer programs weren’t complicated enough, now there are new tiered programs from the so-called budget carriers.

JetBlue Airways is rolling out a new program this fall. The TrueBlue Mosaic program applies to those with at least 15,000 points, or who fly at least 30 segments and have 12,000 points in a year.At this level, you get perks like a free second checked bag—which can save you $40 each way. You also get access to an expedited security line, early boarding, and upgrades.

Virgin America recently added silver and gold tiers to its Elevate program. Reach up to 20,000 points and you get benefits like a free checked bag and a dedicated reservation number. At 50,000 miles, you get up to three free checked bags and other perks.

So why is this news? Traditionally, it was the legacy carriers that had different levels of loyalty programs, but the budget carriers relied on low prices to keep its customers coming back. But low-cost airlines aren’t necessarily so cheap anymore, and now they’re targeting business travelers.

And hey, if you collect the most frequent flyer miles on Virgin America by next August, you earn a seat on Virgin Galactic. What are you waiting for?

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