Maximizing JetBlue Redemptions on New Mint Business Class
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Last week I released the June installment of my monthly point valuations, which included a significant boost to the value of points in JetBlue’s frequent flyer program TrueBlue. Like Southwest Airlines, JetBlue uses a fare-based redemption system, so the number of points required for an award flight corresponds to the going cash price. This means that TrueBlue points typically have a fixed value of 1-1.3 cents apiece. However, with the recent launch of JetBlue’s new business class service Mint, the upper limit of that range has improved by over 30% to 1.7 cents apiece.
Seats in Mint are available at a standard rate of $799 or 61,100 TrueBlue points each way, which corresponds to the regular value of 1.3 cents. However, JetBlue has priced several restricted fare seats on each flight (for which Mint is available) at the lower rate of $599 or 35,000 points. Here’s a sample itinerary from LAX to JFK on September 17, 2014.
Not only is the cash price discounted for these seats, but the cost in TrueBlue points is disproportionately lower, yielding the higher redemption value of 1.7 cents each.
Mint is currently available only on flights between JFK and LAX, but service between JFK and SFO will begin in October. I tried pricing flights on the latter route for early 2015 with the same result. Here’s an itinerary from JFK to SFO for January 6, 2015.
At 70,000 points round-trip, these discounted Mint fares cost a bit more than business class on other carriers at the lowest redemption levels (typically 50,000 miles), but are significantly less than, say, a United Standard Award (100,000 miles) or an AAnytime fare on American (at least 90,000 miles). Mint stacks up well against the competition with regard to quality of product as well, featuring 16 lie-flat beds with 4 private door closed suites. Seats are 6’8″ long and 22.3″ wide, both tops in the US domestic market.
With the so-far limited routing, Mint can’t make a big enough splash to sway pricing on other carriers or force them to match the quality of service. However, JetBlue has set a high bar, and in the long run Mint could be a game changer.
If you want to give your TrueBlue point balance a boost, you can sign up for the JetBlue Card from American Express which currently offers 20,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. On top of that you’ll earn up to 8 points per dollar on eligible purchases of JetBlue flights and Getaways vacation packages on jetblue.com, and 1 point per dollar spent on other eligible purchases. The $49 annual fee is waived for the first year, and you can earn a $50 statement credit each year you purchase a JetBlue Getaways vacation package with your card.
Alternately, you can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to JetBlue at a ratio of 5:4, so you could trade 87,500 MR points for 70,000 TrueBlue points and redeem for one of the discounted round-trip fares in Mint. That gives you a value of about 1.37 cents per Membership Rewards point. You can do better with your Membership Rewards, but that rate isn’t horrible.
Have you flown (or do you plan to fly) Mint? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.