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What a combined Spirit-JetBlue loyalty program could look like

Aug. 18, 2022
14 min read
JetBlue and Spirit planes in Fort Lauderdale
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Pending regulatory approval, JetBlue will likely be purchasing Spirit in the coming years. A merger between the two carriers would have significant implications for customers, particularly given the different frequent flyers of the two airlines.

A couple of weeks ago, TPG's Zach Griff provided a snapshot of the numbers involved for JetBlue and Spirit, including their largest airports, fleet sizes and routes operated. A combined airline would make for a large carrier set to rival the "Big Four" U.S. carriers, especially for domestic travel.

Let's compare the two airlines' loyalty programs and speculate about what a combined Spirit-JetBlue loyalty program could look like.

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How might previous airline mergers dictate what will happen to Spirit points?

Virgin America and Alaska Airlines announced their merger in 2016. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

Historically, when U.S. airlines have merged, frequent flyer miles and status in the outgoing program are honored in the new program.

For example, most recently, we can look at the Alaska-Virgin America merger. Virgin America Elevate points were worth more than Alaska Mileage Plan miles, so when the airlines merged, Alaska gave a 30% bonus when converting Elevate points to Mileage Plan miles. Additionally, Virgin America Elevate Gold elite members could accept Alaska MVP Gold status.

To sweeten the welcome to Alaska — or mitigate the elimination of snazzy Virgin America — Virgin America's upper elite members were welcomed with either 10,000 Mileage Plan miles or a $100 credit.

TPG values Free Spirit points at 1.1 cents apiece, while we value JetBlue TrueBlue points at 1.3 cents apiece. Hopefully (for Spirit flyers), since these valuations are close to one another, we expect JetBlue will covert each Free Spirit point to 1 TrueBlue point.

Further, we expect TrueBlue points to act the same after the merger. Right now, both airlines dynamically price award tickets, but JetBlue pegs the value of points to the cash cost of a flight. Since Spirit will fold into JetBlue, this will likely stay the same post-merger.

It gets a little trickier with elite status, however.

JetBlue vs. Spirit elite status

JetBlue recently began service from Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) to London Gatwick Airport (LGW). (Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

Spirit has two status levels: Free Spirit Silver and Free Spirit Gold. JetBlue also has two status tiers: Mosaic and Mosaic+. However, Mosaic+ is a limited-time status tier only offered in 2022.

Here's a look at how you qualify for each tier:

SpiritJetBlue
Lower-tier statusFree Spirit Silver

2,000 status qualifying points on flights operated by Spirit Airlines or spending on the Free Spirit Travel More World Elite Mastercard:

Mosaic

Achieve one of the following in a calendar year:

 

Upper-tier statusFree Spirit Gold

5,000 SQPs on flights operated by Spirit Airlines or spending on the Free Spirit Travel More World Elite Mastercard:

Mosaic+ (temporary tier)

Achieve one of the following in a calendar year:

The information for the Jet Blue Plus and Jet Blue Business Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you look at the cobranded credit card spending requirements to earn status, Spirit requires $50,000 to earn its upper-tier status. JetBlue requires $150,000 of spending each year on its credit card(s) to earn its upper-tier temporary status level.

For this reason alone, I don't think JetBlue will be inclined to offer Mosaic+ status to Free Spirit Golds (if the tier sticks around after 2022). In some ways, Free Spirit Gold resembles Mosaic status, and Free Spirit Silver matches a Mosaic- (minus) tier (something the airline doesn't currently offer).

It's important to remember that Mosaic+ is only a temporary tier, but JetBlue might offer Mosaic+ in the future. A permanent second elite status tier for JetBlue might look different than what's on offer right now.

JetBlue Mosaic benefits are somewhat lackluster. After all, $50,000 of spending on a cobranded credit card should deliver better benefits.

For example, American Airlines Platinum status, which requires 75,000 Loyalty Points, offers benefits like Oneworld Sapphire (namely access to Oneworld business lounges) and 48-hour first-class upgrade priority on select routes.

In fairness, it requires $75,000 of cobranded credit card spending to earn the 75,000 Loyalty Points for American Airlines Platinum status. Still, it's high time for JetBlue to deliver generous, premium perks like upgrades and lounge access to its Mosaic members.

To get a better idea of what JetBlue might do with Spirit elite members, let's compare some of the benefits of each tier.

Related: Will we be upgraded in 2023? Here’s where TPG’s staff stands midyear on our airline status quest

Differences in mileage earning rates

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
SpiritJetBlue
Lower-tier statusFree Spirit Silver

  • Earn an extra 2 points per $1 spent on Spirit flights.
Mosaic

  • Earn an extra 3 points per $1 spent on JetBlue flights.

 

Upper-tier statusFree Spirit Gold

  • Earn an extra 4 points per $1 spent on Spirit flights.
Mosaic+ (temporary tier)

  • Earn an extra 3 points per $1 spent on JetBlue flights.

In this case, the Spirit elite mileage bonuses are close to JetBlue elite bonuses. Keep in mind, though, that Free Spirit points are worth about 15% less than JetBlue points, so if JetBlue keeps the same bonuses after the merger, this could be advantageous for Spirit elites.

Related: What are points and miles worth? TPG’s August 2022 monthly valuations

Seat assignments

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
SpiritJetBlue
Lower-tier statusFree Spirit Silver

  • Select standard seats at check-in.
  • Exit row 180 minutes from departure.
Mosaic

  • 100% points rebate on Even More Space points redemptions (only for 2022).
  • After 2022, free Even More Space seat selection 24-hours prior to departure.
Upper-tier statusFree Spirit Gold

  • Free seat selection at booking (including exit row, excluding Big Front seats).
Mosaic+ (temporary tier)

  • 100% points rebate on Even More Space points redemptions (effectively complimentary Even More Space).

For seating, JetBlue is more generous, particularly to lower-tier Mosaics, when compared with Spirit's lower-tier Silver members. Even More Space seats have more legroom than all of Spirit's fleet, so once the airline's fleet is reconfigured with the JetBlue experience, once-Spirit elites should have a much more enjoyable experience.

Related: 7 tips for picking the perfect airplane seat every time

Other flight perks

An exit-row seat on a Spirit Airbus A320. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
SpiritJetBlue
Lower-tier statusFree Spirit Silver

  • Priority boarding.
  • Priority security.
  • 0 checked bags.
  • Waived overweight luggage (up to 100 pounds).

 

Mosaic

  • Priority check-in.
  • Priority boarding.
  • Priority security.
  • 2 checked bags (up to 50 pounds).
  • Free inflight alcoholic beverages.
Upper-tier statusFree Spirit Gold

  • Priority boarding.
  • Priority security.
  • 1 checked bag.
  • Waived overweight luggage (up to 100 pounds).
  • Free nonalcoholic drink and snack on board.
Mosaic+ (temporary tier)

  • Priority check-in.
  • Priority boarding.
  • Priority security.
  • 2 checked bags (up to 50 pounds).
  • Free inflight alcoholic beverages.

Unlike the previous elite perks that we've looked at, there are some significant differences here. For example, JetBlue offers priority check-in and alcoholic beverages as elite perks while Spirit does not.

However, Spirit waives the overweight luggage fee on checked bags up to 100 pounds (that's a heavy lift!). JetBlue, on the other hand, offers two complimentary checked bags to its elite members with a maximum weight of 50 pounds per bag.

Related: Best credit cards for airport lounge access

Partners and upgrades

JetBlue Mint. (Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)
SpiritJetBlue
Lower-tier elite statusFree Spirit Silver

N/A.

Mosaic

  • American Airlines perks like Main Cabin Extra seats, same-day changes and priority boarding.
  • FoundersCard membership (only for 2022).
  • Upgrades on Heathrow Express (only for 2022).
Upper-tier elite statusFree Spirit Gold

N/A.

Mosaic+ (temporary tier)

  • The same American Airlines perks as Mosaic elites.
  • FoundersCard Elite membership.
  • Upgrades on Heathrow Express.
  • Four Mint upgrade certificates (except London routes), pending availability 24 hours before departure.

There's a clear winner here: JetBlue. To read more about the JetBlue elite perks on American Airlines, check out this article.

Frankly, Spirit would be more competitive in this space if they offered upgrades to Big Front Seats. However,

Related: A business-class boost: Reviewing JetBlue’s new Mint Suite

Credit cards

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
SpiritJetBlue
PersonalFree Spirit Travel More World Elite Mastercard.

Sign-up bonus:

  • 60,000 bonus points and a $100 Companion Flight Voucher after making at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

Earning rates:

  • 3 points per $1 spent on eligible Spirit purchases.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on eligible dining and grocery store purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Notable benefits:

  • Receive a $100 Companion Flight Voucher each anniversary after making at least $5,000 in purchases within the prior anniversary year.

Annual fee:

  • $79, waived the first year.
JetBlue Plus Card.

Sign-up bonus:

  • 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases and paying the annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days.

Earning rates:

  • 6 points per $1 spent on eligible JetBlue purchases.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on eligible restaurant and grocery store purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Notable benefits:

  • Get 10% of your points back as a bonus after you redeem for and travel on a JetBlue-operated award flight.
  • $100 annual JetBlue vacations credit.
  • 5,000 annual anniversary points.

Annual fee:

  • $99.
BusinessN/A.JetBlue Business Card.

Sign-up bonus:

  • Earn up to 70,000 bonus points:60,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 90 days, and an additional 10,000 bonus points after a purchase is made on an employee card.

Earning rates:

  • 6 points per $1 spent on eligible JetBlue purchases.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on eligible restaurant and office supply store purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Notable benefits:

  • Get 10% of your points back as a bonus after you redeem for and travel on a JetBlue-operated award flight.
  • $100 annual JetBlue vacations credit.
  • 5,000 annual anniversary points.

Annual fee:

  • $99.

In terms of cards, Spirit has a competitive personal credit card, especially considering that the annual fee is waived for the first year. And after the first year, it's 20% less expensive than JetBlue's personal card.

Still, we're big fans of the JetBlue Plus Card and its 6 points per $1 spent on eligible JetBlue flights.

Related: The best airline credit cards

Status matches

(Screenshot from customersupport.spirit.com)

Spirit currently offers status matches to elite members from other major U.S. airlines. If approved, you'll receive status on Spirit for 90 days. During those 90 days, you'll have to earn 500 SQPs to extend Silver status or 1,250 SQPs to extend Gold status.

You may request a status match here.

Interestingly, JetBlue doesn't currently offer a Mosaic or Mosaic+ status match. This could be a clever way to try your luck for a Mosaic status match from your Spirit status later down the line.

Related: Current airline elite status match and challenge options you should know about

What a combined program could look like

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Many of the benefits of the combined program should be crafted around how quickly JetBlue can reconfigure the less-comfortable Spirit planes.

For example, since there's no equivalent of Even More Space on Spirit's planes, so JetBlue may offer Mosaics access to Big Front Seats and exit-row seating in the interim.

Of course, the new scheme should honor the current Free Spirit Gold benefits — particularly the luggage allowance policies.

As JetBlue begins to reconfigure Spirit's Airbus A321s, I'd like to see complimentary waitlisted upgrades to Mint, even if it means that a larger Mint cabin is added. Also, if JetBlue decides to continue Moasic+, the carrier should expand Mint upgrade certificates to allow for use on transatlantic flights.

While these requests might sound ambitious, they prevent Spirit Golds from feeling like they're being demoted to Mosaic. Of course, this brings up the elephant in the room: JetBlue should consider revamping Mosaic to better compete with the rest of the U.S. carriers, especially as it grows with a larger fleet.

Related: How to increase the value of your JetBlue TrueBlue points by 10%

Bottom line

There's no telling what JetBlue TrueBlue will do with Free Spirit points and elite status. However, I have a strong suspicion that JetBlue will convert Free Spirit points to TrueBlue points at a 1:1 ratio (considering that both programs use dynamic pricing and are comparable in value).

Free Spirit Silver and Gold members will likely receive Mosaic status with JetBlue. In the past, these sorts of mergers have been messy. There's a tremendous amount of time and capital needed to convert and link Spirit's reservations system to JetBlue. Not to mention the time required to train staff and repaint and reconfigure planes.

Still, with any luck, the JetBlue-Spirit merger will deliver more valuable perks to existing Spirit frequent flyers.

Featured image by Bloomberg via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
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