One of the challenges for revenue-based loyalty programs is redemption options on partner airlines. JetBlue‘s approach to that with Hawaiian Airlines historically was a relatively fixed point value that could be used against any seat on Hawaiian. The number of points varied by fare, just like on JetBlue flights, and there were no inventory controls. Awards could get pricey, but finding space was never a problem. At some point in the past couple weeks/months the company switched to a fixed award chart.
Award costs are now fixed which makes planning slightly easier. Alas, inventory is now limited, making the search harder. It also makes figuring the point value slightly more challenging. A quick scan of west coast to Hawaii flights suggests that the 45k reward in business is very close to the penny per point value that the awards used to be priced at. For interisland flights the rate is slightly better, with awards pricing at either 6,000 or 12,000 points for ~$75 or ~$140 tickets in coach or economy, respectively.
Award seats book into T for economy travel and D for business class seats. The D inventory is listed in ExpertFlyer‘s Pro mode (subscription service; affiliate link) to help ease searching. The T seats are not.
For flights from the east coast the value proposition is even better. A business class seat on the nonstop JFK-HNL flight runs as low as $1,100 one way. That same seat can occasionally be booked for 70,000 points, getting up to the 1.5 cents/point value that TrueBlue points typically average on JetBlue-operated flights. International awards are theoretically even better, but mostly because of the (arguably irrational) high cash prices. Still, a trip from New York to Tokyo via an overnight stop in Honolulu prices at $3,600 or 120,000 points right now. But you also need to want a 20+ hour stop in Hawaii each way on that trip rather than the 12ish hour nonstop flight.
Ultimately this change is either good or bad based on personal circumstances. It doesn’t seem like there are many cases where the points value drops below the old 1cpp rate so that’s good news. And with the 1.5-3cpp upside potential there are some theoretical sweet spots in the new chart.
What’s your preference: Unlimited Inventory with variable pricing or limited seats with fixed costs?
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