Although initially announced to be launching on Monday, TrueBlue 2 – the new loyalty program from jetBlue – is now alive and well on the jetBlue homepage. The details are all there and most of them appear to match exactly what was previously suggested so no real big surprises there.
Among the new program features, there are no more black-out dates on reward travel. Not only that, but there are no inventory restrictions either. This means that every seat on every flight can be booked as a mileage redemption. It will likely cost a ton of points (one example is below), but it is possible.
The points also no longer expire, but again with a small catch. All the points in the account will stay active as long as there is some activity in the past 12 months. The 12 month window is at the shorter end of the scale compared to other carriers’ programs, but it is a significant improvement over the old program that expired the points even if you did have activity.
jetBlue also continues to offer double points earning for all flights booked on their website, www.jetblue.com. This again sets them apart from many in the industry and it is a nice touch that they are keeping the bonus in place.
The most significant way that jetBlue is changing the program is that points earned are now directly tied to the fare price rather than miles flown. Some folks will love this change and some will hate it. For the business traveler it almost always comes out better this way, especially with jetBlue’s route network being the way that it is. For leisure travelers who are more price-sensitive in their purchasing behavior it will probably reduce their earning potential. That being said, there is a bit of hope that the other improvements will offset those changes.
The redemption process is also shifting to be more dollar-value based, though not specifically such. As noted above, every seat on a flight can be redeemed using points but the number of points required shifts based on advance purchase, demand, etc., just like the actual fare price changes. Even more interesting is that the value of the points is not linear; each point does not just have a set dollar value. A quick sampling of the reward costs this evening (more details analysis to come) shows that the points can range from 0.87 cents per point up to over 1.3 cents per point. Again, more detailed analysis is needed and will be forthcoming, but this is a good starting point for consideration. With an earning potential of 6 points/dollar spent (plus the bonuses detailed below) and an average redemption value of about one cent per point TrueBlue 2 members are looking at about a 6% return on their travel investment. That’s not bad at all, and it only gets better from there.
jetBlue also is offering a couple different means to earn bonus points either for miles traveled or overall spending. There are bonus thresholds at every $500 threshold (assuming all purchases happen at jetblue.com) and the number of bonus points awarded increases as the spend does:
- 3,000 points ($500×6 points/dollar on jetblue.com) earned = 500 bonus points
- 6,000 points earned = 1,000 bonus points
- 9,000 points earned = 2,000 bonus points
- Each additional 3,000 points earned = 4,000 bonus points
It is important to note that ONLY points earned from buying tickets – excluding baggage fees, credit card spending or any other points earned – count against the threshold levels.
The bonus scheme for folks who fly long distances is also new, with every ten “long” one-way flights (>2000 miles; listing here) earning 10,000 bonus points. That can add up in a hurry for folks who fly a lot of transcons, even if they are on cheap fares.
Both of these bonus programs are calculated on a 12-month cycle, with the earning starting from a member’s first earning event. This is unlike the traditional calendar year qualification that many legacy carriers use and is much more similar to bmi’s Diamond Club scheme in the timing. One minor difference is that after the 12-month window expires the next window does not start until the next flight event.
Taking the bonus schemes into play, a member who spends $3,000 in a year to fly ten transcon round trips (~$350 for each trip, considering taxes and all) should bank about 48,000 TB2 points. That’s a 16% return on the trip investment. Not too shabby at all. A short-haul flier with the same spend would net only 28,000 points (no Go Long earnings) but that’s still over 9%.
One other bonus offer out there is for 100 bonus points on every Even More Legroom seat purchased. Not too shabby at all.
There is a lot of information to still digest (and a big thanks to Dave Canty over at jetBlue for answering my questions about the program on a Sunday evening). A lot more is coming in the spring when the Sabre conversion happens. But the new program looks to be rather revolutionary in the industry and also to be a very strong value proposition.
Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.