Every airline has a frequent flyer program. The programs all have a common purpose: to influence your future travel behavior (They are not there, as many people in the industry claim, to reward loyalty. Loyalty made them money in the past. They want your future wallet.). And although they share the same goal, each program has features that make it unique. For JetBlue, one of those features is the badge program.
Badges, whether in real life or on the internet, simply represent having completed an achievement or challenge. They don’t necessarily have any value in and of themselves, but they appeal to the “collector” in all of us. They’re not new; we all remember Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts badges from when we were kids. Now, the badges are simply virtual, usually valueless awards that you might get for, say, finishing a particular level of a game or having visited a certain location some number of times. At some point, it becomes more about striving for the next level and competing with others than it does actually participating. JetBlue is happy to take advantage of this phenomenon, of course, by giving you a display of the number of badges you’ve earned, your “level” and where you stand against all other JetBlue customers.
“We Don’t Need no Stinkin’ Badges” – But We Want Them
JetBlue didn’t invent these tokens but did improve them by attributing some actual value. By completing JetBlue activities, such as flying to a certain city or participating in social networks, you will earn one of over 450 badges, ranging from 50 points for connecting with them by Facebook to 500,000 points for flying to every destination (That award, worth roughly $7,000-7,500, is the largest by a long shot.), in addition to the points that you earned for taking flights. Not every one awards points, but a large percentage of them do. As you complete more offers, you’ll “level up,” opening up more opportunities. You move up one level for every five badges you earn. Here’s a brief look at the types of awards that you can get:
JetBlue is an airline, so it makes sense that the majority of badges can be earned for the destinations you visit. In particular, the first time you fly JetBlue to a particular destination, you will simply earn the badge. Additional visits, however, will earn you both badges and TrueBlue points.
- Your third visit to a city will earn you the “Tourist” badge for that city and 100 TrueBlue points.
- Your sixth visit will generate the “Been There, Done That” award and give an additional 500 points.
- And for your tenth visit to a destination, you earn the “Practically a Local” badge, as well as 1,000 points.
Fly to every one of their cities and you earn a cool half-million points, as well as the admiration of frequent flyers everywhere.
Note that you earn a travel badge for the city you are flying to, not the origin. If you have a connection, however, you will earn a city marker for both the connecting city and the final destination. So if you are flying from Boston to Orlando, for instance, with a connection in New York, you would earn badges for both New York and Orlando. On the return, you would earn for New York and Boston.
It’s the warm and fuzzy stuff, and here’s where social media is going to help you. Almost half of the 51 badges in this category are related to social media, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or simply inviting people to join the Badges program. The majority of the social media badges not only give points but are easy to complete. In general they will earn you 50-150 TrueBlue points each, which can add up with a few shares and retweets. Most of the other badges are for sharing points, flying on holidays or flying a certain number of flights. Unlike the social media awards, most of these achievements do not earn you points. In other words, they’re just symbols for your collection.
Want to earn points on JetBlue without flying? No problem, they have plenty of partners, ranging from flowers to rental cars. Shop through their site and the partners will pay a commission to JetBlue who will, in turn, pay you with points based on how much you spend and who you spend it with. Highly profitable flowers will earn you 20 points per dollar spent, while a car rental will earn you five points per dollar, give or take. Both will earn you badges, though, as will the rest of JetBlue’s partners. The problem with these badges is that almost none of them will give you the extra points that come with those in the other categories. Sure, you can get them for booking a JetBlue vacation (or you can earn a special badge for completing all of the other partner offers and having a JetBlue credit card), but that doesn’t really sound like a partner, does it? The bottom line is that you should be doing the partner offers because you value the partner, not for the badges.
Truthfully, you shouldn’t be doing any of the JetBlue interactions just for the badges. They represent an interesting side game and a nice bonus if you complete them, but not much more than that. Remember, they’re doing this to get at your wallet, which becomes a little bit easier when they set up a target for you. Still, free points are free points and, if you earn the 500,000 points from JetBlue badges, please remember your favorite blogger.