A fun quirk of revenue-based frequent-flyer earning

I’m looking at a few JetBlue flights for an upcoming itinerary and, as is my habit, I’m considering the points earning potential of the flight as I research. JetBlue’s TrueBlue program is revenue-based, not distance-based, so figuring out the earning rates requires a bit of digging to back out the taxes & fees and uncover the base airfare for a trip. I’ve got two strong candidates for my desired itinerary, a non-stop Seattle-JFK and a connection in Boston. The price difference is $2, with the non-stop being cheaper so, naturally, that’s the flight I should be booking. But is it worth the connection (and new-to-me route flown) to earn a few more points? It turns out the answer is no for more reasons than I expected.

Here’s the fare breakdown for the connecting itinerary:


And here’s the same details for the non-stop:


I’m actually going to earn MORE points on the cheaper non-stop fare than on the connection because the higher total cost ends up being taxes & fees, not cash paid to the airline.

Even the arguably simpler revenue-based programs have complexities inherent to them. Oy.

And, just because I’m me, I ended up not booking either of these options; I found a completely different routing which ends up better for my overall needs.

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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.


    1. It is a small difference – less than $10 – for me for my normal transit options. And about the same amount of time, too. Not enough to skew the decision.

  1. Not completely analogous, but PQD on UA works similarly. At least I have noticed the same basic concept in my weekly travel which gives me nonstop and connection options…

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