A shift in accrual rules for JetBlue’s TrueBlue program

JetBlue‘s TrueBlue program has one area in which they offer something remotely similar to the elite levels of other loyalty programs: the Go Bonuses. These are offered for high spend (Go Big) or multiple long segments (Go Long) and can really add up, depending on travel patterns. The Go Big bonuses in particular can be attractive to folks buying more expensive tickets (read business travelers) as they’re not only accruing more TrueBlue points on the original fare purchase but they also hit the Go Big bonus numbers more quickly.

The bonuses are calculated on an annualized basis, much like other elite programs. Since the launch of the new TrueBlue program this annual period began when the first ticket was flown. It was difficult to track progress of the bonuses (there is no indication in your TrueBlue account what the to date levels or relevant dates are) and apparently sufficiently confusing overall that the company is changing the rules.

With barely 10 days notice (the first I saw of the change was an email dated 22 December) the policy is now earning based on a calendar year rather than a rolling basis:

Starting January 1, 2012, we’re making our Go Bonuses easier to understand. We will be using a calendar year instead of using a 12-month rolling period and introduce trackers for the ability to track your progress towards your next bonus.

Overall I think that this is probably the right move for the program. I was always a bit confused by the date tracking on the old scheme and oft longed for a better way to track the information. I was actually quite surprised to see my first Go Big bonus show up and only after going back and carefully studying the numbers did I realize I had actually earnt it. This change should help clear that confusion quite a bit.

But there’s a problem with the change, too. It does not seem that there is any allowance being made for folks who have been earning points recently and who reasonably expected that their rollover was not on January 1. Imagine having flown nine of the ten required longhaul segments for the Go Long bonus in the past 6 months and not earning the 10,000 point bump in January when flying the next one.

Certainly the company is within their rights to make the changes with zero notification or advance warning (the T&C permits such) but that doesn’t mean they should. Yes, it will be a bit more complex and cost them a few extra points in the long run, but tracking two separate schedules for the transition period and erring in favor of the customers rather than in favor of the company is the right move here. Hopefully JetBlue will reconsider on this point.

Note: This is a different version of this post than that which I originally published. The original was lost into the ether shortly after being posted due to some server issues and I’ve recreated it here. I’m pretty sure it is similar enough in content, though I know it isn’t the same. Such is life on the interwebs.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.