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Fast on the heels of yesterday’s announcement from Virgin America that it would be instituting new elite status levels, JetBlue unveiled its own new system of loyalty perks for its frequent flyers called TrueBlue Mosaic that will launch this fall.
According to the press release, JetBlue’s program benefits will include:
- Free second checked bag for everyone flying on the member’s reservation (2nd bag usually costs $40, and third $75)
- Free Even More™ Speed, providing expedited security at 36 airports for everyone flying on the member’s reservation
- Early boarding with early access to overhead bin space for everyone flying on the member’s reservation
- Ability to use TrueBlue points to purchase Even More™ Space seats for extra legroom (these seats have 38 inches of pitch, and come with Even More Speed privileges)
- Access to a dedicated 24/7 customer service line
- Three bonus TrueBlue points per dollar spent for a total of nine points per dollar when booking on jetblue.com (instead of the base 3 points per $1, plus 3 bonus points per $1 when booking on jetblue.com)
The airline is being very clear not to call this an elite status program, and though there are no tiers, it still looks like an elite system based on the qualification requirements. Existing members of TrueBlue, JetBlue’s loyalty program, will be automatically upgraded to TrueBlue Mosaic if they have earned 15,000 base flight points (these are the 3 points per $1 you earn on fares–so $5,000 spend) or completed 30 flight segments and have earned at least 12,000 base flight points ($4,000 spend) in a calendar year. Current TrueBlue members eligible for TrueBlue Mosaic will be notified and automatically enrolled in the program this fall.
JetBlue will also give six free Even More Space seat upgrades for TrueBlue members earning the Mosaic badge in 2012. Even More Space gives customers access to more spacious seats and early boarding.
As with Virgin’s new elite levels, I’m not wowed. The benefits conferred seem to be about low- to mid-tier on legacy carriers like American and Delta, and while the $4,000 annual spending to qualify seems like a lot at first glance, you could spend less and possibly reach much higher status on other carriers, so you might as well be enjoying WiFi, free snacks and entertainment while you’re doing it – which should give the legacy carriers something to think about and an impetus to improve their offerings as well.
Personally, I’ll stick to legacy carriers since the high-level elite benefits I get as an American Executive Platinum, Delta Platinum and United Platinum outweigh any JetBlue lists. But it’s nice to see some of the low-cost carriers dipping their toes into the elite pool.
For those of you who are JetBlue flyers out there, I find that redemption values for TrueBlue points tend to be around the 1.4-cent mark. The annual qualification level of 12,000 base points would require $4,000 in spending. If you were a Mosaic member and booked those flights online at jetblue.com, you could be earning up to 36,000 points. Plus, if you had the JetBlue Amex, you’d earn an additional 2 points per $1. So your total earnings could be closer to 44,000 points, or the equivalent of $616 in redemptions. That’s 15.4% back on your spending. Not too bad, but still behind Virgin America. Then again, JetBlue flies to over 70 destinations vs. Virgin America’s 16.