What’s a JetBlue TrueBlue point worth? With the recent introduction of fare families and other minor changes to the carrier’s fares and loyalty program it is, once again, time to dig in to the data and figure out what the points are truly worth. With more than 1100 data points across 50 city pairs and multiple travel dates in this year’s analysis, here’s what I found.
Last time around there was a sweet spot on the redemption chart for arguably the best product: Mint. That service is still spectacular but no longer the winning redemption opportunity for the program.
Keeping consistent with prior analysis the cheaper fares generally offer better value on redemptions. Looking at all four fare types there is a distinct trend for higher priced fares to have a lower point value. There is also an obvious floor to the point valuation (0.97 cents, with only a handful of exceptions) while there is not a ceiling defined quite as obviously. That’s both good and bad news when considering the value of the points. For many points junkies this will remain a challenging shift in behavior: Redeeming points for the cheap seats is the smarter deal.
Moreover, redeeming for the more expensive fare families generally brings down the value of the points overall. In 90% of the data points the value per point of a Blue Plus redemption was lower than that of a Blue redemption. The average point value for moving from Blue to Blue Plus is 1.08 cents, a 30%-ish discount from the average value of the points overall. Still, that’s about 1200 points on average to get a checked bag as part of the itinerary which is likely the smart play, even at the lower valuation, just based on what it would cost in cash to buy it separately, a price which is generally higher than just the fare difference.
I should also note that this analysis revealed a few bits of data about fare families in general. When the fare families first launched I mostly saw a $15 premium from Blue to Blue Plus and another $85 from there to Blue Flex. Looking at the data in this survey shows roughly 25% of the fares have a higher price for the Blue to Blue Plus upgrade with a max of $32. A similar (but not identical) percentage showed variation in the Blue to Blue Flex upcharge, with a maximum there of $208 versus the default of $100.
And, in what I believe is a mistake in the pricing algorithm, there are about 10% of the data points where the value of a TrueBlue point increases for the Blue Plus or Blue Flex rewards. There are even a small handful (~2%) of cases where the total points required for a Blue Plus redemption is lower than for a Blue redemption. I didn’t find a pattern for that but it is there.
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