American And JetBlue Finally Move Forward With Alliance

Over the summer American Airlines and JetBlue announced a partnership focusing on New York and Boston. They said they would codeshare and offer reciprocal frequent flyer earning and redemption.

It’s been expected that American would turn over some New York flying to JetBlue, and American would focus more internationally. American said it would launch New York JFK – Tel Aviv and seasonal New York JFK – Athens and New York JFK – Rio de Janeiro service in winter 2021.

On November 19 the Department of Transportation let the period of time for it to object to lapse, effectively giving the deal its blessing. And I kept asking, where’s the announcement from the airlines?

When pressed American Airlines confirmed to me back in November, and again in December, that they believed they had approval to move forward. And… crickets.

Today American Airlines and JetBlue simultaneously announced they’re moving ahead with the partnership.

  • American promises no more 50 seat regional jets out of New York by the end of 2021

  • The release re-affirms plans for American to launch Tel Aviv and Athens but is silent on Rio

  • JetBlue will expand out of LaGuardia, ‘other New York airports’ and Boston liely with slots from American where needed as American focuses on international travel out of JFK and increasingly leaves domestic to JetBlue.

  • Codesharing will begin this quarter (so by March 31, 2021)

The announcement from JetBlue and American prominently features a quote from New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader in the new Senate. He was instrumental in securing slots and gates for JetBlue’s launch 20 years ago in New York.

“Due to the COVID crisis, I fought for and delivered over $40 billion in payroll support to the airlines and its workers to keep the industry from collapsing and prevent massive job loss,” said incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “I am glad to see JetBlue and American Airlines collaborating on innovative solutions to save thousands more jobs in a way that also expands New Yorkers’ travel options.”

There’s a saying that the most dangerous place in D.C. is between a television camera and Chuck Schumer. Giving him a flattering quote and getting his public endorsement is a shrewd move.

Several requests to review the deal had been filed with the Department of Transportation, including by Spirit Airlines and Southwest. Delta has gratuitously complained about the deal in unrelated filings. To satisfy objections, and it seems with Schumer’s backing, American will give up slots at New York JFK and Washington National airports.

We do not yet have details on the frequent flyer relationship between the two carriers, other than as discussed previously that there would be some level of elite recognition included to make the partnerships more ‘seamless’.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Interesting news. Will be most interested to see what JetBlue’s TrueBlue redemption chart looks like on American. Seems like Hawaiian was their (JetBlue’s) only other U.S. airline partner before.

    Regarding the politics, maybe Delta will enlist the help of Georgia’s shiny new Democratic Senators to bring home some flying pigs (airline pork).

  2. @Luke Vader since True Blue’s redemption is dollar based, I would imagine it would be the same for AA flights.

    And yes, having AA as a partner would presumably open up alternate flight options in case of B6 IRROP.

  3. I am really sorry this happened. I have received nothing less than excellent service from jet blue. I have received nothing better than poor service from American. I can only wait and see where it goes from here. Hopefully I won’t have to be looking for a new airline.

  4. Does this partnership mean that AA will offer fewer of those dreaded routings where a passenger has to fly into LGA to connect to an international flight departing from JFK?

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