JetBlue TrueBlue Deserves Some Attention

Being based in DFW, we had never flown JetBlue until last week.  We prefer nonstop routes when possible and the only nonstop JetBlue flights from DFW are to Boston. We finally had the opportunity to fly JetBlue from Orlando to Nassau for our trip to Atlantis. You can view JetBlue’s route map here.

We were already going to be in Florida for spring break, so when I noticed how easy it would be to fly to the Bahamas for a few days, the wheels started spinning. We decided to book a stay at Atlantis and I’ll post about that soon. I think our girls are still too young to fully enjoy Atlantis, so the grandparents kept them in Florida while we took Jack on the ultimate spring break adventure.

Don’t worry, the girls didn’t miss us too much. They had a great time in Florida with the grandparents.

JetBlue made a great first impression. I wanted to give an overview of our flights, how we booked, and our first experience with JetBlue.

JetBlue TrueBlue

TrueBlue is the name of JetBlue’s loyalty program. Most frequent flyer/airline loyalty programs I discuss on this blog fall into one of 3 categories:

  1. Region/Zone based
  2. Distance-based
  3. Fare-based

And then there’s Delta who is just kind of rogue.

I have a detailed post about the different types of award ticket pricing here. In order to redeem points and miles for max potential, it’s very important to understand the pros and cons of each type of program.

JetBlue falls into the fare-based type of award pricing. This means that the amount of points required for a ticket is based on the current fare of a paid ticket.

  • Cheaper tickets=lower amount of points required
  • More expensive tickets=higher amount of points required
Atlantis

Our flights: JetBlue nonstop between Orlando and Nassau

Cost of Orlando to Nassau one-way:
  • 3,500 JetBlue points plus $5.60 in fees.
  • Without points, the cost is $76.
  • $76 is super cheap, but using 3,500 points to cover it is still a value of 2 cents per point, so why not use points?
Cost of Nassau to Orlando one-way:
  • 3,500 JetBlue points plus ~$107 in fees.
  • I know, $107 sounds bananas. These fees are imposed by the Bahamian government and anytime you book a flight from Nassau to the US with miles and points, this fee will be collected no matter what airline you fly.
  • If we wanted to pay cash for this flight, it would have been $173 per ticket.
Universal Studios Orlando
We took Jack to Universal while we were in Orlando. I love that place!
More on those taxes and fees

Just in case anyone was wondering how these fees break down, here you go:

JetBlue TrueBlue points Bahamas
$67 (more than half) of the $112 in fees on the roundtrip ticket is from the “Airport Facility Fee” and the “Passenger Departure Tax”.

Totals for our roundtrip MCO-NAS flights on JetBlue

Even though you have to pay out of pocket for the fees, using points was still a good value for these flights.  In this case, our value was almost 2 cents per point. Sometimes, fees and fuel surcharges are so outrageous that your net cpp value is nowhere near 2 cents per point.

7,000 points plus $112 in taxes and fees

JetBlue TrueBlue points Bahamas

The cents per point math:

  • Paid roundtrip fare: $248
  •  $248-$112=$136
  • Are 7,000 points worth $136?
  • 136/7000=0.0194
  • 0.0194 X 100=1.94 cents per point

Our choices were:

  • Pay for the tickets at $248 each. Total for 3 tickets: $744 and 0 points
  • Use points and pay the fees: 7,000 points plus $112 each. Total for 3 tickets: 21,000 points and $336.

We chose the latter option.

We happened to get very close to 2 cents per point on our JetBlue tickets, but this isn’t always the case

With JetBlue, a lower fare generally means a lower amount of points required. It is unclear exactly how JetBlue prices tickets booked with points, though. It doesn’t seem that they use a formula that assigns an exact value to a point.

In other words, JetBlue points aren’t always redeemable at a rate of 2 cents per point.

This flight from Nassau to Orlando is $244:

JetBlue TrueBlue points Bahamas

If booked with points, the cost is 9,100 points plus $107.

JetBlue TrueBlue points Bahamas

Here’s the math:

  • $244-107=$137
  • 137/9100=0.0150
  • 0.0150 X 100=1.5 cents per point

1.5 cpp isn’t terrible; I just wanted to show that cents per point value can fluctuate.

7,000 points roundtrip is a steal

To compare, a flight from Orlando to Nassau on an American Airlines flight booked with AAdvantage miles would require 15,000 miles each way (or 12,500 each way if you travel on off peak dates), assuming you can find milesAAver availability. Otherwise it would be even more.

AA MCO-NAS milesAAver redemption. Note that the fees aren’t any better than the JetBlue flight

Your American Airlines total would be 30,000 miles and $118. At the redemption rates we got with JetBlue, you can get 4 tickets for less than 30,000 points!

JetBlue TrueBlue points Bahamas
Living his best life

An important point (no pun intended) is that all 3 of our JetBlue tickets were less than the redemption cost of 1 American Airlines ticket.

If American Airlines miles were the only award currency I had, I wouldn’t have been able to book the JetBlue tickets. You can only use AA miles for AA flights and for AA partner flights. JetBlue is not an AA partner.

Using a JetBlue credit card isn’t a good solution, either, though.

So how did I acquire the JetBlue points needed?

Rather than using credit cards that earn airline miles, I mostly focus on credit cards that earn transferable points such as Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards. Both have several airline partners. This means you’ll have more redemption options!

I transferred 21,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to JetBlue to get the points required to book these tickets.

If you have Chase Ultimate Rewards points or American Express Membership Rewards points, you can transfer them to JetBlue*. You just need to create a free (no credit card required) JetBlue TrueBlue account.

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to JetBlue at a 1:1 ratio.
  • American Express Membership Rewards points also transfer to JetBlue, but at a 250:200 ratio.

*If you have both UR and MR, you’d want to use Ultimate Rewards because your cents per point value is higher given the better transfer ratio.

A few more details about our JetBlue experience

I’m terrible at trip reviews, but I wanted to comment on a few things.

Comfort on the plane

Our plane was one of JetBlue’s smaller planes, an Embraer 190. There are no Mint seats (JetBlue’s premium class) on this plane, but I probably wouldn’t splurge for premium seats on a 1 hour flight anyway.

The space and legroom felt better than other US airlines.  Each seat also has its own screen for in flight entertainment.  This brings me to another point…

JetBlue demonstrated great customer service

The in flight entertainment system was down, but rather than taking the plane out of service and throwing off its scheduled flights for that day, they decided to fly the plane without IFE.  Before anyone had time to complain, the pilot made an announcement that each passenger would receive a $15 credit within a few days.  I know that isn’t much, but it’s a nice gesture.  I once had a broken IFE on an American Airlines long haul international flight and they offered me nothing.  It is nice that Jetblue took a proactive approach.

Also, flight attendants and pilots were courteous and friendly.  The captain invited Jack to the cockpit for a quick tour!

JetBlue TrueBlue points Bahamas

JetBlue offers free wifi

We didn’t have it most of the flight because the service doesn’t work once out of US territory, but it’s good to know that on domestic flights you get free wifi!

Final thoughts

Click here for a current list of the best credit card offers. If you’re a beginner, start with Chase cards, especially a Chase Sapphire card. Use this list. It also explains why Chase cards are so important for beginners.

You can’t beat 3,500 points plus $5.60 for a one-way flight from Orlando to Nassau.  Nassau to Orlando is a little more out of pocket, but I still feel that 21,000 points total were put to good use for our 3 roundtrip tickets between Orlando and Nassau!

JetBlue made a great first impression and I will definitely consider flying them in the future when the routing makes sense.

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One thought on “JetBlue TrueBlue Deserves Some Attention

  1. Pingback: Types of award ticket pricing • The Miles Genie

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