Frequent flyers and pointhounds now have two more ways to build up their account, albeit in small chunks.
Virgin America and United are offering free points through their respective Elevate and Milage Plus programs for passengers who check-in with their smartphone.
United is currently running a promotion through year's end where flyers who check-in for a domestic US flight with a smartphone or any web-enabled mobile device (such as a a tablet) receive 1,000 bonus Milage Plus points.
It's a pretty straightforward deal and one we'd like to see more airlines adopt. After all, it's in their best interest to have people check-in online rather than queue at an airport counter. So why not encourage passengers by giving them a small reward for mobile check-in?
Virgin America’s twist on the tech is more of a play for social networking and is in keeping with the airline's hip plugged-in image. It's not checking in for a flight, but rather checking into specific Virgin locations using social networking services such as Foursquare and Facebook Places.
Passengers chalk up Elevate points when they use those services to log in from the airport terminal or departure gate. They get 25 points per check-in and can earn up to 50 points per flight. But with reward redemptions starting at 2,500 points you’d need to send Virgin America a lot of virtual check-ins before getting anything back.
To take part, passengers need to download the Topguest app for their iPhone or Android smartphone, then register and add their Elevate account to the service.