Skip to content

JetBlue union dispute adds a big wrinkle to American Airlines partnership plan

Feb. 17, 2021
3 min read
JetBlue union dispute adds a big wrinkle to American Airlines partnership plan
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Despite Alaska Airlines being on the cusp of joining American in the Oneworld alliance, AA is planning to join forces with another major U.S. carrier: JetBlue.

The so-called "Northeast alliance" will enable American Airlines to add its flight number to JetBlue flights, and vice versa — an AA flyer could book a single ticket from Martha's Vineyard (MVY) to New York-JFK on JetBlue, for example, and then continue onto American's new nonstop flight to Tel Aviv (TLV).

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!

American and JetBlue secured approval from the Department of Transportation last month, but there are still plenty of details left to work out — including getting a buy-in from JetBlue's pilot union, the Air Line Pilots Association, or ALPA.

Related: JetBlue’s Mosaic status updates for 2021

Unfortunately, that particular detail just hit a notable snag, with 53.7% of eligible ALPA members voting against an agreement that would allow JetBlue to move forward with the partnership as planned. As Capt. Chris Kenney, chairman of the JetBlue unit of ALPA, explained in a statement:

Sign up for our daily newsletter
"Job security, especially during turbulent points in our industry, is a main concern of every pilot. We train for years and spend nights far from home in order to be a pilot. For any agreement to proceed, JetBlue management must provide acceptable assurances that our jobs are safe and valued for years to come."

Given the pandemic's ongoing impact on the aviation industry, it's certainly reasonable for JetBlue pilots to be concerned about their jobs. The union is insisting that the airline provide more job security before it approves the deal.

Related: JetBlue’s overhauled fare structure

While JetBlue was unable to detail the implications of this week's union vote, a spokesperson did provide TPG with the following statement, indicating that it would move forward with the partnership either way — at least in some capacity:

"We are disappointed in the results of the vote. JetBlue and ALPA worked together on this tentative agreement to achieve much-needed cost savings during this unprecedented time. We are committed to our alliance with American Airlines and plan to move forward so we can deliver its benefits to both crewmembers and customers. The alliance allows JetBlue to grow in the northeast with new routes and destinations, getting our crewmembers flying again as we recover from the impact of coronavirus."

It's not yet clear what impact the union vote will have on JetBlue's ability to participate in the planned Northeast alliance. There may be restrictions on the number of flights JetBlue customers can book on American Airlines, for example, or the partnership could end up moving forward as originally planned, if JetBlue pilots are able to come to a deal.

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.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

BEST FOR DINING AND GROCERY REWARDS
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

Earn 60,000 points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There’s a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It’s been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you’re hitting the skies soon, you’ll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there’s no reason that the foodie shouldn’t add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x).
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel.
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months.

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories.
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits.
  • Few travel perks and protections.
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
BEST FOR DINING AND GROCERY REWARDS
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.

    Earn 60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There’s a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It’s been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you’re hitting the skies soon, you’ll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there’s no reason that the foodie shouldn’t add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x).
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel.
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months.

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories.
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits.
  • Few travel perks and protections.