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JetBlue Mosaic Improvements: The Weekly Wish

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Today TPG Contributor Nick Ewen continues his series The Weekly Wish, looking at flaws, shortcomings, and room for improvement in the world of travel and loyalty programs. Today’s wish: step up the benefits in JetBlue Mosaic to make it more useful to frequent flyers.

I love elite status and all the perks that come with it. Whether I’m skipping a long airport check-in line or walking into a huge upgraded room, elite benefits really augment the travel experience for me. Unfortunately, not all airlines and hotels are up to snuff when it comes to elite status, and today’s post calls out one such offender. My Weekly Wish is for JetBlue to modify their Mosaic program so that it truly rewards their most loyal customers.

JetBlue Plane
JetBlue offers a comfortable ride, but the Mosaic program could use a facelift.

Before I get into this, it’s important to note that JetBlue didn’t offer any recognition of their most loyal customers until a couple of years ago; Mosaic was officially launched in the fall of 2012. TPG highlighted how JetBlue didn’t refer to Mosaic as an “elite” status level, but it’s the closest thing they have to it! He also wasn’t impressed with the benefits:

  • Redeem points for Even More Space seats
  • Access Even More Speed security checkpoints at designated airports
  • Board early to get first access to overhead bins
  • Check your second bag free (along with any companions on the same reservation)
  • Earn three additional TrueBlue points per dollar spent
  • Use a dedicated customer service line

Since the initial rollout, the program has added two new benefits:

  1. Change/cancellation fee waivers: As a Mosaic member, you can change or cancel reservations without a fee. This includes your ticket along with the tickets of anyone else on the reservation. For non-members these fees start at $75 per person on tickets under $100, but go as high as $150 per person. As a result, a family of four on the same reservation could save as much as $600.
  2. Bonus qualification points: If you earn Mosaic status this year (which will be valid for the rest of the year and all of 2015), you will immediately earn 15,000 bonus TrueBlue points. These points are worth anywhere from $150 – $240 depending on the flight you choose to redeem them.

To qualify for Mosaic, you would normally need to fly 30 segments and earn at least 12,000 base points ($4,000 in airfare) or earn 15,000 base points ($5,000). However, earlier this year JetBlue was offering status matches and challenges to poach customers from other airlines. Since I had a couple of JetBlue flights planned, I used my Delta Platinum Medallion status and matched to Mosaic for status valid through the end of 2014. While I enjoy flying Delta (despite all of the recent devaluations), JetBlue is a very pleasant experience, with free DirecTV and unlimited complimentary snacks & drinks. I also live halfway between Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, giving me access to 35 nonstop destinations.

However, after a couple of flights, I have not been impressed, and I think Mosaic needs a bit more firepower to make it worth striving for. Here are some of the ways that JetBlue could improve the program:

Upgrading Mosaic members to Even More Space seats would be a great addition to the TrueBlue program.
Upgrades for Mosaic members to Even More Space seats would be a great addition to the TrueBlue program.

Offer complimentary upgrades to Even More Space seats.

Free upgrades to first/business class (or even just free access to preferred seats) are hallmarks of airline elite status programs. Even the legacy carriers offer upgrades to their lowest tier elite flyers when space is available. However, to really compare apples to apples, compare Mosaic to Virgin America’s Elevate program (which interestingly enough were announced within days of each other back in July, 2012). Both offer revenue-based earning and redemption, and their elite status levels are also based on how much you spend.

Elevate Silver is earned with 20,000 base points ($4,000 in flight purchases), so it’s comparable to Mosaic. However, Silver members can upgrade to Main Cabin Select seats within 12 hours of departure. This product is very similar to the Even More Space seats on JetBlue; both offer 38″ of pitch, and according to SeatGuru.com, the Virgin America seats are just 0.1″ narrower than those on JetBlue.

You can purchase Even More Space seats when booking a flight; Mosaic members will also see a point redemption option.
You can purchase Even More Space seats when booking a flight; Mosaic members will also see a point redemption option.

As it stands, JetBlue Mosaic members can access Even More Space seats in two ways: by purchasing them, or by redeeming points for them. The cost varies depending on how long the flight is. Here are some sample prices I found for one-way flights:

Route

Cost in $

Cost in Points

Value

DCA-BOS

$30

2,400

1.25 cents/point

JFK-SJU

$45

3,500

1.29 cents/point

FLL-LAS

$65

5,000

1.3 cents/point

BOS-SFO

$95

7,400

1.28 cents/point

These rates aren’t terrible, but they don’t get close to the 1.6 cents/point that you see with some redemptions on JetBlue.

I’m not asking for JetBlue to process upgrades days in advance (like most of the legacy carriers do). After all, these ancillary fees can be quite profitable to airlines, and JetBlue should be able to sell the seats if they can. However, if someone hasn’t purchased those seats by the day of the flight (or even within an hour or two of departure), they should be made available to Mosaic members.

Earn Mosaic credits for spending on the JetBlue American Express.

JetBlue could take another page out of Virgin America’s book by offering credits toward Mosaic qualification for hitting certain spending thresholds in a calendar year on the co-branded American Express card. As I discussed in this post, the Virgin America Premium Visa Signature card gives you 5,000 status points for every $10,000 you spend (up to 15,000 status points per year). The annual fee of $149 is much higher than the $40 fee on the JetBlue Amex, so the earning rates would be much lower (unless they added a premium card option). I envision something like:

“Earn 1,000 points toward Mosaic status for every $10,000 in spending, up to 5,000 qualification points per calendar year.”

My review of the JetBlue Amex last week wasn’t exactly glowing, and a benefit like this would be a nice addition.

JetBlue Mint seats laid with handwritten notes and plush duvet sets
Upgrades to JetBlue Mint could be a great way to reward high spenders in a new elite status tier.

Add a true elite status tier above Mosaic.

If JetBlue wants to compete with the legacy carriers like American, Delta, and United in terms of elite status, they should institute a new tier with more substantial benefits. JetBlue is presently the only major domestic carrier with just one tier of status; even Southwest has two with A-List and A-List Preferred. The new tier would be for truly high-revenue flyers; the qualification threshold should be at least 60,000 base points ($20,000 in spending). Here are some benefits I would include with the new status level:

  • Standard Mosaic benefits: no change/cancellation fees, priority check-in/security/boarding
  • Six extra points per $ spent (100% bonus)
  • Complimentary Even More Space seats 24 hours before departure
  • Ability to use points to upgrade to Mint
  • Two one-way upgrade certificates for Mint each year
  • 2nd and 3rd free checked bags
  • Elite benefits when traveling on airline partners, including lounge access, priority check-in/boarding, and preferred seat selection

I don’t mean to kick a gift horse in the mouth, as I certainly appreciated JetBlue offering me a status match earlier in the year. However, the airline has clearly shown a desire to compete with the heavyweights, illustrated perfectly by the introduction of Mint on the premium transcontinental routes (JFK-LAX/SFO). JetBlue should put its loyalty program where its mouth is and consider some significant upgrades to Mosaic.

What do you think of the Mosaic program? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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