Effective Sept. 28, 2009, JetBlue is relaunching the TrueBlue program and the new program looks very different from the old. First off, the program will be revenue instead of distance based.
Currently, members earn two points on short flights, four points on medium flights and six points on long flights and members earn double points for booking online. Accrue 100 points and you have enough points for a roundtrip award flight.
The new program has an entirely different structure, although the program will retain points as the currency. Under the new revenue-based program, members will earn up to six points per dollar spent–three points per dollar spent on the base fare plus three bonus points for online booking. Pay for your ticket with a JetBlue AMEX and you’ll receive an extra two points per dollar spent.
And then there are “Go Big” bonuses for members who reach the following point thresholds in a 12-month period: reach 3,000 points and earn 500 bonus points; 6,000 points for 1,000 bonus points; 9,000 points for 2,000 bonus points; 12,000 points for 4,000 bonus points and an additional 4,000 bonus points for every 3,000 points above 12,000 points.
Built into the system is also a buy five, get one free offer. Members who take five roundtrip flights (minimum 2,000 miles per segment) within a 12-month period will receive a “Go Long” bonus of 10,000 points–enough for a roundtrip award flight.
There are a few changes on the redemption side that are definite advantages–no blackout dates and a more lenient expiration policy. Under the old program, points expire one year after they are earned (unless you are a JetBlue AMEX cardholder). This policy made it very difficult for the occasional flyer to ever earn enough points for an award. The new expiration policy states that points don’t expire as long as you fly once per year on JetBlue or use the JetBlue AMEX once a year.
Similar to Virgin America, the number of points needed for an award flight will fluctuate depending on your destination, day of travel and how far in advance you book your ticket. One-way award tickets will start at 5,000 points.
Bottom line: Will the changes benefit you? It depends on your flying habits. FlyerTalk member sbm12 compares two possible scenarios: “First off, the customer who flies five return transcons annually at the cheaper end of the spectrum. Previously they’d spend about $1,250 and earn 100 TrueBlue points, enough to redeem for a roundtrip reward. In the new plan they will earn 7,500 base points, 1,500 bonus points for spend and 10,000 bonus points for transcon flying. That puts them at 19,000 total points and right at the “average” redemption cost for a reward in the new program. In other words, their net change is nil.
If that same customer were to commute between the coasts 10 times annually, however, the numbers skew much differently. Under the old program they’d get one more freebie. Under the new program that customer would do MUCH better. The second set of five transcon trips would earn another 10,000 bonus points for the flying, as well as spend threshold bonuses at $1,500, $2,000 and $2,500 for a total of 10,000 more bonus points. That totals 29,000 points earned for the second set of five transcons or a total of almost 50,000 total earned for the year.”
So you could argue that the new program will up the benefits for some members, but not all. And for those who preferred the simplicity of the old program, the new TrueBlue will have a learning curve, but being able to use your points for any available seat and a less draconian expiration policy are improvements. Go to http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?1737 for more information about the new program and read the interview with David Canty of JetBlue in this issue.
JetBlue is offering a triple points promotion as well. Members who register at http://www.jetblue.com/triplepoints can earn triple points on flights purchased by Sept. 23 for travel between Aug. 17 and Sept. 23, 2009. You will only earn the triple points for flights booked online–double points will be given to members who make reservations over the phone.