Wednesday, August 5, 2009

JetBlue's New Model

Those who have read Spontaneous Tourism will know that I have typically not recommended low-cost airlines like JetBlue or Southwest. Their service is usually excellent. The problem has been the frequent flyer programs of these airlines.

Unlike the legacy carriers, most low-cost airlines opted for flight- or distance-banded point systems rather than direct mileage when they built their programs.

They also had inflexible expiration policies, which left flyers watching their earliest-earned points expire just before they might have been able to use them.

JetBlue has apparently gotten the message from me and other flyers, and it’s making some changes. Beginning September 28, TrueBlue members will:

  • Earn points for dollars spent rather than distance flown, a better alignment of customer and airline interests anyway since airlines are in business to make money and not simply fly planes;

  • Earn bonuses for frequent as well as longer-distance flights; and

  • Most importantly, renew their points for another year every time that they take a paid JetBlue flight.

These are big changes, and they go a long way towards helping JetBlue—an excellent airline with outstanding service—get the attention that it deserves from those of us who spend a lot of time in the air. I’ll be giving them a new look because of this new approach and hope to fly with them more often in the future.