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.