The American Airlines-JetBlue Partnership Is A Mess For Passengers

American Airlines and JetBlue have forged a ‘Northeastern Alliance’ covering flights in and out of Boston and New York. This is great in theory for American Airlines customers, giving them a big domestic network to fly while still earning miles and elite status. It’s great for JetBlue customers given American’s global reach. And it makes the two airlines competitive against United and Delta in selling to corporate accounts.

American Airlines customers, especially, should like flying JetBlue which offers more legroom, seat back entertainment, free wifi and a business class product (on routes where it’s offered) with relatively great seats, food, and friendly service.

However the actual partnership – as experienced by passengers – is quite broken. Several customers, based in both Boston and New York, have shared the problems they’ve faced and an American Airlines manager generously provided context.

  • When you buy a JetBlue flight from American, American Airlines can’t assign seats and customers have shared stories of JetBlue agents who say they can’t, or who don’t want to do it, on American Airlines codeshares. (“Hang up, call back”)

  • Customers expect elite benefits across partners but that doesn’t exist yet. I regularly get asked, and read in my social feed, about AAdvantage elite benefits when traveling on JetBlue. For instance they assume they’ll get better seats (that JetBlue doesn’t give their own members – the TrueBlue program is weak). Communication that this is still an earn-only relationship, without elite recognition or redemption opportunities so far, has not been clear.

  • American is telling customers about one elite benefit that doesn’t exist. Reservation confirmations sent to customers booking codeshare flights have shown free checked baggage benefits for elite members even though those don’t apply on JetBlue. This is a DOT complaint waiting to happen. I mocked complaints about this six years ago but I was wrong, because American still hasn’t gotten their IT fixed. Push hard enough and, I’m told, if you have a confirmation saying you get free checked bags American Airlines will cover the fees you were forced to pay to JetBlue.

  • JetBlue isn’t properly reporting miles to American in some cases. Customers who have added their AAdvantage account number, but that who have JetBlue accounts, have found flights crediting to TrueBlue instead. Getting this fixed is… a challenge.

The partnership was announced a year ago, and it’s been live for five months but it’s not yet ready for prime time.

Overall it should be good for customers, but competitors don’t like it. However the value proposition is entirely contingent on delivering a consistent customer experience. The two airlines aren’t close to that yet.

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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Comments

  1. I had a JetBlue flight on May 28 and I’m still fighting to get my AA miles. It was initially credited to Trueblue even though boarding pass and website showed my AA number. JetBlue reversed it and told me to submit a missing miles request. I did that and JetBlue responded to AA staying I already received miles. Very frustrating experience. I don’t know anyone who has successfully received AA miles on B6 flights that weren’t a code share.

  2. JetBlue is a TERRIBLE partner. They started off being partners with no one and their agents and IT reflect that. If a JetBlue flight is delayed causing a misconnect to an EK flight on a single ticket, JetBlue refuses to reaccomodate properly. I forget whether they rebook/reissue at all (I think there’s been times when they don’t) or whether they just refuse to do logical re-routes like routing via BOS when JFK flight is canceled. We’ve been avoiding JetBlue as part of larger itineraries whenever economical.

  3. I just got back from a round trip Mint trip. I’m Mosaic and ExecPlat and called to have my AA put in because I wanted the $1k+ going towards my AA accrual. Even with my AA# in there it’s posted to my JetBlue account.

    With the new promo of $2k flight spend later this year I’m not sure it’s worth my time to get it straightened out.

  4. If you’re banned from flying on JetBlue but they partner with AA will still be able to fly?

  5. Most of the issue with this partnership are on the B6 end.
    B6 IT and employee training is not prepared for working with another airline on a significant scale despite the fact they have code-shared with foreign carriers for years.
    B6 uses SABRE and many of the same behind the scenes systems as AA so it should not be this difficult.
    B6 needs to get it together for this partnership to work.

  6. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
    Given that the return of business travel is beginning and will increase, there has to be resistance by some business travelers to touch this.

  7. Why would this surprise anyone? The executive management running AA could care less about the upfront treatment their customers receive. . Once they get past the…hopefully…..$$$$ impact to their individual pockets they are right behind Elvis and “leave the building.” Combine that with all the carryover from USAir; horrible employee attitudes, archaic computer systems and a second class field management group and this is what you get!!

  8. This little vent isn’t personal, and I mean no disrespect by it. But why does it seem as if American and United are held to different standards than Delta and Southwest on this blog? Even the slightest imperfection at United or American is exaggerated into an apocalyptic event. While most flaws at Delta and Southwest tend to get explained away or go unreported. Why? It’s important to cover what happens, good and bad, on blogs like this, but it also seems to me that people who hold themselves out as “experts” and who are allegedly working on behalf of the reader should do just that – work on behalf of the reader – and do so as accurately, completely, objectively, and dispassionately as humanly possible. They shouldn’t appear to be shills for, or have a vendetta against, any particular airline.

  9. Could it be that you simply perceive AA as a great airline, when most of us, and quite possible Gary too, see AA as a pretender and a shadow of what we have been used to over the past decades? DL has always been customer unfriendly in my book, and UA has some of the most alienated employees of any business I regularly patronize……. AA, however, has managed to take what was, to me, THE top U.S. airline and degrade it over the past 7-8 years into a mediocre, often hostile travel partner, and managed to degrade their top-tier Aadvantage program into a shadow of the program that motivated me to use AA virtually exclusively when possible.

    It isn’t Gary that’s dinging AA unfairly; it’s AA alone that in fact is dumbing down their product and gutting the value proposition of their loyalty program, knowing full well what they’re doing. If you can’t recognize what’s happening, either you are brand new at this, you aren’t looking, or you work for AA or it’s your job to defend your employer. The rest of us all see that AA no longer values its loyalty members, will devalue anything (service, accessibility, schedules, equipment) in the race to the bottom, and considers its formerly most-engaged patrons overly-entitled after promising a certain level of service and perks. AA’s bean-counters now regret ever having engaged frequent travelers (despite our enabling them to compete their way to the top these past years) now that it occurs that these promises are worth something to us and cost them something. It’s classic: time now to devalue everything, cut service, add fees, beggar the system and the hell with yesterday, it’s today. Following frequent flyers, employees will take it in the neck next. Welcome to AA’s 2021-2030 plan. Why actually BE a premium airline when you can just say you are and fool most of the people most of the time, especially with competitors like DL and UA?

  10. Delta, United, and Southwest are not developing partnerships with other domestic airlines while American is doing that, in some cases to replace routes that American used to fly.

  11. It doesn’t surprise me at all, there will be more mergers of Big Corporations. How else will they survive? We’ve bailed those Airlines out twice! No more hand-outs. People’s services, product and fees. This is what moves the economy.

  12. As a side note, I have tried calling JetBlue reservations several times and the shortest wait time was 2 hours 40 minutes and they are suggesting up to 2 weeks to respond to email. Great partnership so far! Lol

  13. This is a terrible partnership. As a JB CUSTOMER, couldn’t get a seat assignment; and when I did, 20 hours before flight, only seats available were $32 and higher. Less legroom, less friendliness, etc

  14. similar thing happened when I tried to book AA ticket using Alaska airlines frequent flier #, the flight disappeared on AA’s account, I even cannot manage check-in, change seat, etc. Not sure if they did a dry-run when they announce the partnership.

  15. Ummm… The fact that it is an elite qualification and miles earning only partnership was quite clearly communicated. Anyone who thought they’d be getting uogarded I’ma. JetBlue flight is as silly as the tools that give down town luxury hotels poor ratings for charing $30 for parking

    I flee my first JetBlue flight recently, and the eqds and eqms posted to my advantage account much faster than Alaska operated flights do.

  16. The only things AA does do right are done by the former TWA employees who work there.
    Bring back TWA…..a real customer conscious airline.

  17. People need to remember it is AMERICAN in Name Only, America West on steroids. Until the Leadership changes there will be no moving of the needle. We saw how AW dismantled the USAirways built by Stephen Wolf and then set their sights on AA……America West was designated “America’s Worst” for a reason. Doug Parker is not fit to Run a Major Airline and it clearly shows. This airline has been in a steady Nose Dive since 2017.

  18. Every concern l had about my favorite airline JetBlue partnering with one of the absolute worst ,(American) have come to fruition. I’ve never had so many cancellations, bad info, long waits and poor SVC EVER until now

  19. American is TERRIBLE. I say that as an employee of this company.

    I consider quitting every day. After the pandemic this company is so greedy and they will do anything to save money on staffing. Every department is so thoroughly abused. Most of us come in and get extended to the maximum 16 hours per day. There’s days when I feel like breaking down and I rarely get to see my spouse. This airline doesn’t care. They want to slim down the staffing schedule to save money and expand the flight schedule but not have enough people to work it. I say it every day it blows my mind how this airline is still in business. The abuse we suffer from the poor organization of this company and how they have zero regard for their employees or customers for that matter is just astounding. They spent all that bailout money cramming more seats in their planes rather than managing their staffing like they were supposed to.

    I’m applying at any other airline job I can find and even considering leaving the industry because I’ve had enough. Hands down the worst and greediest company I’ve ever worked for. Wish someone would do a story exposing them. I’d happily contribute.

  20. Amen. We specifically booked a trip several months ago (pre-merger crap) specifically to avoid dealing with American. Now, we get stuck on AA anyway without any ability to reserve seats. We got stuck in the very back of the plane in the middle seats. Suffice it to say, this was a BAD experience and I won’t be flying JetBlue again because I have no idea if I’ll actually end up on one of THEIR planes.

  21. My experience with this partnership: I’m flying from DCA to BOS and back tomorrow (round trip in one day). I booked with American and the return flight is on AA but the flight up to Boston is operated by JetBlue. American sent me an email this morning, 24 hrs before my flight, with a link to the JetBlue check in page. But after having issues with the website and app not recognizing my reservation (despite the trip showing up in the “My Trips” tab in the JetBlue app), I contacted JetBlue who said I needed to check in at the airport kiosk. I’m very anxious about missing flights so I decided to head over to DCA this morning so I could check in today instead of trying to deal with it at 5am tomorrow. And it’s a good thing I did, because after the kiosk didn’t let me check in either, I again chatted with JetBlue’s online support and learned that if you have a mixed-airline itinerary on the same day, you can only check in in-person at the ticketing desk. And the ticketing desk was closed when I got to the airport. Apparently the desk at DCA is only open from 4:45-11am and 1-7pm and although I was there at 10:40am, there was no one in the JetBlue check in area. And the American desk couldn’t help because the flight is operated by Jet Blue. So instead of breezing through the airport at 5:30 tomorrow morning, as I had originally planned because I have no luggage, I have to get there even earlier to stand in line at the ticketing desk because this “partnership” between JetBlue and American is an absolute mess. Even the two JetBlue people I talked to didn’t know about this policy and eventually had to ask a supervisor–and the first supervisor insisted the kiosk would work! JetBlue and AA, please get your sh*t together.

  22. I agree, this partnership sucks, I am waiting to rebook JB flight operated by American Airlines, no disclaimer that it can be done only by phone not online. On the phone for 4 hours now and still waiting just to see how long it will take. American will take JB down with it. If JB is smart they should cancel this stupid partnership.

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