American Airlines and JetBlue introduced reciprocal elite benefits this past fall. The major omission was reciprocal access to extra legroom seats, largely a function of JetBlue not even offering those to their own elite members.
- Same day confirmed changes are now available, too. AAdvantage Executive Platinum and Platinum Pro members get same day confirmed changes on JetBlue, and JetBlue’s elite (Mosaic) members get same day confirmed changes on American. Giving all JetBlue elites same day changes on American is generous.
- Starting in April American Airlines Admirals Club members flying JetBlue can use their club lounge access. Several months before the pandemic American started restricting use of lounges to passengers flying the airline and certain partners same day (but exempting lifetime club members). JetBlue should have been one of these partners on relationship launch.
These benefits add to priority check-in and boarding and complimentary checked bags.
The U.S. Department of Justice is suing to unwind the partnership between American and JetBlue which is absurd because the government had only just approved this partnership and there was no new information suggesting any changes in the few months since that had happened – and because the partnership makes the two carriers together a viable competitor against United and Delta in New York.
Of course those two competitors don’t like it and lobby against it (Senator Amy Klobuchar, representing Delta, has pushed DOJ here) and other carriers want the Justice Department to extract even more slots from the two airlines in New York and give those slots to them. It’s an opportunity to extract rents.
My only concern with the partnership is that the two airlines are swapping who operates what route, and American doesn’t believe it has to honor award tickets in the cabin booked when exiting a market served by its joint venture partner.
Still, reciprocal elite status earning and benefits are meaningful for customers, and extra legroom seats are the most tangible yet for many. This needs to extend to at booking for higher tier American Airlines elites. Hopefully as JetBlue launches its new elite tiers it will.