JetBlue used to seem a bit half-hearted about its loyalty program. It was always a bit of a me-too effort, from revenue-based accrual and redemption to a single-tier elite program that doesn’t even offer free extra legroom seats to its top customers.
Now that they’re (1) expanding internationally and (2) in an alliance with American Airlines, using American slots in New York to grow and taking traffic onto their flights from American’s long haul operation, they’re in a whole new ballgame. They’re even relevant to corporate business. And how you treat premium customers matters – more than just inflight in Mint (their business class cabin, which is quite good).
So they’re beginning to get serious about an elite program.
All Elites Finally Get Free Extra Legroom Seats, But It’s Complicated
JetBlue allows elite members to redeem points for extra legroom seats. Those haven’t been free. However between January 5, 2022 and December 31, 2022 those points redemptions will be rebated after travel making them effectively free.
Unfortunately this is not available on Basic Economy fares, but it is permitted for all passengers on the same reservation on other fares.
Standard Qualifying Criteria For Mosaic Status Returns
JetBlue won’t have reduced qualifying criteria for its base level status again in 2022, despite the pandemic.
That means Mosaic status earned in 2022 will require one of:
- 12,000 qualifying points and 30 flight segments
- 15,000 qualifying points
- $50,000 spend on the their premium consumer cobrand card or their business card
On the one hand, there’s a lot more opportunity to earn points with JetBlue now that American Airlines flights count and you can also fly JetBlue to Europe.
On the other hand, the pandemic isn’t over and businesses haven’t all returned to work (perhaps 40% of offices remain closed, according to Delta Air Lines estimates). Many customers won’t have all of 2022 to requalify. And we may be about to get hit by a major Omicron wave. I fully expect that JetBlue will run status promotions to accelerate qualification.
Mosaic+ Is Their Band Aid For 2022
JetBlue is adding a second elite tier. Their current elite level is Mosaic. Their new level is Mosaic+. The benefits of this tier are temporary for 2022 only. There’s a bigger revamp coming.
- 45,000 qualifying points or
- $150,000 spend on their premium consumer co-band JetBlue Plus card or their business card.
The benefit of this level is space available business class upgrades four times between January 5, 2022 and Decemebr 31, 2022. JetBlue flights to and from London are not eligible.
- All fares are eligible, and reservations with up to 2 passengers are eligible
- Upgrades are automatically requested at booking (you have to call if you wish to opt out, which you might – preferring to save limited upgrades for future longer flights)
- Requires booking tickets at least 96 hours prior to departure
- Upgrades will clear approximately 24 hours prior to departure
- Upgrades will be prioritized based on time of booking (the earlier you book, the higher your prioerity)
There doesn’t appear to be a separate upgrade inventory. If there’s a seat for sale 24 hours prior to travel, JetBlue will offer upgrades. You cannot confirm upgrades at booking, and if space opens up after they run the upgrade algorithm you will not get the seat – no upgrades at the airport.
These upgrades can’t be gifted (other than used with another passenger on the same reservation) and cannot support an upgrade to ‘Mint Studio’ seats at the front of the new cabin. Pet reservations, unaccompanied minors, reservations with an extra seat, bulk fares, tickets issued by other airlines on their own ticket stock (e.g. American Airlines!) and JetBlue Vacations tickets aren’t eligible.
Free Founders Card Memberships For Elites
Mosaic members will receive a 12 month Founders Card membership and Mosaic+ members will receive 12 months of Founders Card Elite. This one strikes me as weird.
JetBlue has partnered with Founders Card for some time, offering discounts like 5% off tickets. But the program offers discounts – even bigger discounts – on other airlines.
JetBlue is pitching their best customers a service that then sells access to those members to competitors who will try to entice their business with status offers and discounts. Hopefully JetBlue is the one getting paid here rather than the other way around (or just exchanging access to their members for the benefit).
Expect More In 2023
For all intents and purposes JetBlue has added a makeshift free extra legroom seat benefit for elites – this is a huge step, finally! – and confirmed extra legroom at booking isn’t something American, Delta, or United offer to first-tier elites.
And they’ve added international upgrades, but only on a standby and not confirmed basis, for higher-tier elites. Still, that’s great since the airline hasn’t offered Mint upgrades before. There aren’t enough routes with business class, upgrades remain limited, and London is excluded. But it’s a start.
Zach Griff wrote that Don Uselmann, Vice President of Loyalty at JetBlue, said in an interview “ultimately what we’re trying to do is to ensure that we maintain our position as having the best loyalty value proposition in the industry.” The notion that JetBlue – today – offers ‘the best loyalty value proposition in the industry’ is… shall we say.. aspirational.
However I do expect to see major changes in 2023, including potentially another elite tier beyond Mosaic+ since with the international presence and American Airlines partnership a level beyond 45,000 qualifying points will make sense. I would not expect free extra legroom seats for the bottom tier of elites to last into 2023, however.