This week in loyalty program news we have some GREAT news for travelers: 1. Two airlines are adding more tiers to their frequent flyer program with more benefits 2. We see airlines and hotels getting into the Olympic spirit 3. We’ll review the launch of a new co-branded credit card to make it easier to earn points! The loyalty industry is constantly coming up with new ways for you to earn awards and use them for things you love! Virgin America and JetBlue are adding elite tiers to their frequent flier programs. This addition for both airlines is to appeal more to business travelers and reward repeat customers. JetBlue is launching a “Mosaic” tier in the fall, which is available to travelers who accumulate at least 12,000 points in a calendar year. This tier allows travelers to get early boarding, priority security lines, using points to upgrade to seats with more legroom and FREE second checked bag. Mosaic members will also earn an additional bonus of 3 points per dollar spent instead of the usual 3 points per dollar. Virgin America is adding a gold and silver level to its frequent flier program beginning on August 8. Benefits include priority check-in, security clearance, free checked-bag allowance, enhanced digital and social rewards, private discounts, and an expanded window to purchase first class upgrades. Furthermore, the airline is launching a promotion beginning August 8. The “Elevate” program member who earns the MOST status points over one year will get a sub-orbital space flight on Virgin Galactic! Aeromexico has ordered $11 billion in Boeing planes. The order includes 90 Boeing 737 Max aircrafts and 10 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners which is is the biggest fleet investment in the history of Mexican aviation. The airline will also be the first airline in Latin America to operate the equipment and the planes should arrive in 2018. One of China’s leading airlines, Hainan Airlines, will be teaming up with Africa’s new low-cost carrier, Africa World Airline (AWA) based in Ghana. AWA hopes to put an end to travel frustration in Africa. Traveling in Africa can be very tedious. For example, to go to Cape Verde [off the west coast of Africa] from Accra, one has to fly to Lisbon in Portugal. This doesn’t make sense! AWA hopes to have better and more flexible travel connections as well as appeal to the growing middle class. With low costs and flexible travel, the airline has the potential to boost tourism within the continent. AWA is flying domestic flights first and hopes to expand and head overseas by 2017. According to a study released last week, 50 airlines throughout the world collected $22.6 billion from bag fees and other extra passenger charges in 2011. Checked bags, reservation changes, upgrades, the prices of food and drinks have gone up in the past 4 years, representing a major portion of total revenues for a majority of airlines. The Olympics are in full swing, and to get into the spirit 5 airlines are flying special-edition Olympic airplanes. British Airways has 9 planes painted to look like a gold dove with a stylized Union Jack on the tail, all in gold. Qantas changed its kangaroo logo to make it sporty by adding a pair of boxing gloves. Japan Airlines have painted the sides of their plane with the words “Ganbare! Nippon!”, which translates to “Go for it, Japan!”. ANA also had a message painted on their plane saying, “messages of cheer to the Japanese Olympic athletes, London 2012 Olympics”. Finally, South African Airways had their plane designed by a child contest winner. The plane depicts the nation’s flag colors with men and women playing sports. Hilton Honors has also gotten into the Olympic spirit. The program has launched a promotion whereby members can share a good luck message with Team USA to win prizes, including a Fantasy Day at a US Olympic Training Center, an exclusive meet and greet with Michael Phelps, multiple HHonors points packages to use for a stay at any Hilton hotel and resort as well as US Olympic themed Pins. Citi is now offering a Hilton-branded credit card that can earn customers more points than the earlier Hilton card. The card carries a $95 annual fee but offers 10 HHonors bonus points for every dollar spent at Hilton hotels and resorts as well as 3 points per dollar spent on airlines and car rental purchases. Have a great week full of deals, bonuses and loyalty love!