JetBlue Won’t Let You Use Credits Online

My fiancee and I were supposed to fly JetBlue in February, but our trip plans changed. I had them move the fare amount into a credit, minus the change fee, knowing I’d use it some other day.

That day came this week, and guess what? Using your credit on JetBlue isn’t very easy. In fact, you can’t do it at all online unless you sign up for a frequent flier account. That’s really annoying and probably Cranky Jackass material. For some reason, I’m feeling benevolent today and will just let them off with a stern finger-wagging (and a post for all my readers to see).

So what happened? Well, I found the flights, filled out my information, and then went to the payment screen. Here’s what it showed me.
JetBlue Payment Screen
Um, so how do I use that credit again? Clearly it’s not a voucher – I don’t have a “voucher code” or anything like that. This is a credit, and there’s no way to use it. So, I called up reservations and asked what to do. That’s when I found out that, well, you can’t do it unless you’re a TrueBlue frequent flier program member.

What? That seemed ridiculous, but sure enough, you can’t use your credit online unless you sign up for an account. Then, they’ll transfer your credit into that account, and the payment-by-credit option will come up.

Personally, I didn’t want to join TrueBlue, so what could I do? Well, I could book it on the phone, but they charge $10 more per ticket to do that. It seems very United-like to charge someone to do something over the phone even though it’s not possible on the internet. So, I broke down and created a TrueBlue account. If they start spamming me, I’ll have to consider forwarding the emails to random JetBlue addresses.

For this, JetBlue, you suck. Please fix it. (Or maybe I should be pleading with your reservation system provider. Is it still Navitaire?)

27 Responses to JetBlue Won’t Let You Use Credits Online

  1. Someone says:

    Yes, it’s still Navitaire…now Accenture.

  2. Zach says:

    This sucks, but the good news is that True Blue doesn’t send out much spam. I get maybe one e-mail from them per month.

  3. Oliver says:

    Don’t quite understand why you don’t want to sign up for a TrueBlue account. I have never flown JetBlue and thus don’t have one, but the moment I fly them I know I will have an account. Who knows when/how it would be useful down the road… Can one ever have too many frequent flyer accounts? ;)

  4. CF says:

    Oliver – Good question. I don’t want to join, because there’s no way I’m ever going to earn enough points on them for any sort of reward. Have you seen their structure?

    You earn 2 points for shorthaul, 4 for medium, and 6 for longhaul. Most of my JetBlue flying is shorthaul. You get double points for booking online, so let’s say I can get 4 points for every flight. A free ticket costs 100 points, so I still need to take 25 flights or 12.5 roundtrips to earn an award.

    Now, that may be fine if you could stockpile points, but the points expire after 12 months, so I’d have to fly 12.5 roundtrip short haul flights in a year to earn points. Not gonna happen, so I don’t want to bother joining their program.

  5. Gary Leff says:

    TrueBlue may not be a great program, but considering the Fly 2 Fly Free Promo right now…
    http://boardingarea.com/blogs/viewfromthewing/2008/04/07/jetblue-fly-two-fly-free-may-1-through-june-18/

  6. CF says:

    True, Gary. But my flights are in August, so this won’t work for me. But for anyone else, yeah, this is a great deal.

  7. I’m biased, I really like JetBlue. But this seems like more of a small systems foo bar than anything else.

    There is need for a process improvement here for sure, but I’m not sure if this deserves the Cranky Jackass award….

  8. Someone Else says:

    You must not be a technology person. In order to control who can use this credit, they can’t have random floating credits with no owner to assign it. Furthermore, I’m sure the credit card vendors will not let them set up your credit like a generic retail gift card that could be resold, disputed, etc. due to fraud.

    I’m sure the TrueBlue account is the way they can tie the credit to a specific individual. How were they supposed to let you ‘see’ that credit online without knowing your ‘identity’ which a TrueBlue would serve as? Scroll though some general list? Think of the fraud potential. I think you would have been pretty upset if someone else had used your credit.

    I’m sure they certainly don’t want to route any customer to a call center (most expensive channel) that they don’t have to. But this is the only more secure way to have some truly authorized person view the open credits that are not assigned to a True Blue account. Seems like a small price to pay for you to make sure that it’s you that gets to use your credit.

  9. CF says:

    Someone Else – I must admit that it’s disappointing to hear such short-sighted thinking from someone at a Navitaire IP address.

    You may be a “technology” person, but you’re not being customer-friendly. Maybe you’ve never flown on other airlines, but few if any of them have trouble allowing this sort of behavior without signing up for an account. There are plenty of unique identifiers that can used including confirmation number, name on the credit card, address on the credit card, phone number, etc.

    If other, much larger airlines can do this successfully without tying it to a frequent flier account, then I’m not sure why JetBlue and other Navitaire users can’t.

  10. Brian Lusk says:

    Someone Else,
    At Southwest, the credit remains with the unused PNR (reservation). To access the funds, you only need to use the original record locater as a form of payment on a new reservation. We’ve been doing it this was for about 12 years.
    Brian

  11. DRG says:

    Yeah, I’m not so sympathetic to your position on this either. It’s really just a profile. Whether you use it as a frequent flyer account or not is up to you. I don’t think it is unreasonable for the carrier to require you to have a profile on its site if you want to do anything more complicated than just buy a ticket.

  12. CF says:

    DRG – I don’t know of too many profiles that require your name, address, phone number, etc. I have also never seen a profile that won’t let you opt out of mailings.

  13. NF says:

    I agree that the JetBlue credit/voucher/whatever system is a little strange. I remember a little while back I booked a flight through my TrueBlue account and I had totally forgotten about a credit I had. JetBlue automatically asked me if I wanted to use the credit for me. Umm, hecks yes I do.

    Also, I also remember typing in the flight confirmation code (from the either canceled or changed ticket) and then my credit came up. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t signed in to the TrueBlue account. Therefore, I think JB has recently changed it.

    As for getting free JB flights, just get the JB AmEX and rack up some points using that. I only fly JB once for twice a year, the second time usually free from my AmEx. Just a thought. Thanks for the great blog.

  14. Dawn says:

    NF…you actually can not use a JB credit online if it is under a confirmation number (I have work for JB in reservations and they haven’t ever been able to do it since I have been there). The only way to use a credit online is if you have it in your TB account. If the credit is in your TB account, and you have signed into your account, you will be prompted if you want to use that credit on the payment screen.

    I would love it if JB would allow customers to use the credit online under a confirmation number. However considering how many people never have their confirmation numbers it might make it a bigger hassle.

    I hope you enjoy your flight even if the booking part annoyed you.

  15. DRG says:

    Name, address, phone number and more are quite normal for profiles. I get asked for this all the time. You can usually opt not to provide phone number.

    Now as for not being able to opt out of mailings, THAT is another matter altogether and I’d certainly take JetBlue to task for that. But it is a separate issue.

    To look at it another way, you’re asking for the airline to have your hundreds of dollars in credit “hanging out there” without even a username and password required to authenticate? Sure a simple confirmation number and last name would be easier, also less secure.

  16. NF says:

    Dawn – Yes, JB has always been good to me. I must be remembering wrong as to the confirmation number credit thing. Anyway, I’d fly JetBlue over any other airline. For example, flying to Longbeach, there was a Delta flight for 178 and a JB for 185, sorry Delta… you lose. I just wish they had more flights in and out of where I live! You NYC folk have JB heaven!

    Oh and crankyflier, get this. I was on a flight out of ATL yesterday and overheard the flight attendant telling a passenger why the in-flight movie had static. She was telling the passenger how “crappy” the airplane we were flying is… she said something like, “Delta bought this old plane really cheap from TWA and nothing works quite right” Oh, that’s real comforting 35000 feet in the air.

  17. CF says:

    DRG – As Brian said, Southwest has been doing it with a record locator for 12 years without significant security issues. So if they can do it, so can JetBlue.

    NF – You must have been on one of the old TWA 757s that Delta recently picked up. Those planes are doing overwater flying, I believe, so imagine if you heard that halfway over the Atlantic!

  18. Andy says:

    So why wouldn’t they give you a voucher when issuing you credit?

  19. CF says:

    I’m not sure that they even do paper credit vouchers, do they?

  20. Dawn says:

    CF JetBlue doesn’t do paper vouchers. It is all electronic.

  21. DRG says:

    “As Brian said, Southwest has been doing it with a record locator for 12 years without significant security issues. So if they can do it, so can JetBlue.”

    If Southwest developed its system 12 years ago, then it developed it in the infancy of business on the Web in a time period when it didn’t make as much sense to do things the way EVERYBODY else does them today because of the added sales and marketing advantages that come from having online profiles on your customers. I would be surprised if Southwest’s approach didn’t change.

    The advantages to the business of having passenger profiles far outweigh having a hand full of passengers annoyed at not being able to use their credits in the exact way they’d like.

  22. AN says:

    As a United 1K flyer for three years who just moved, switched jobs, and isn’t flying so much these days, I’d much rather be treated nicely by JB employees and cope with this minor issue than be treated like poo by UAL employees, even as an “elite” customer – and still face the stupidity of all these arcane rules.

  23. Brian Lusk says:

    DRG,
    we do have profiles, but they aren’t required for booking. One of our big marketing differences and the subject of several recent threads on FlyerTalk is the lack of a change fee and the ease of changing your flights. It is far from a handfull doing this. While I don’t have solid numbers, I know that because of our high frequency in shorthaul business markets, up to half of a plane may have changed their plans because of meetings running short or running long. Granted most of these folks are Rapid Rewards Members, but it is so easy for them to make the change under the same PNR as long as the record is still active. I admit that I had to laugh at your comment becuase SWA has always done stuff differently than the other guys.
    Brian

  24. DRG says:

    JetBlue isn’t Southwest and never will be. No airline should be expected to do everything in such a way that it will please everybody. JetBlue’s expectation that its passengers have a profile to use flight credits seems reasonable. I’m trying to use some flight credits on Air Canada at this very moment and I am having to call reservations to do it. AC being fairly far along when it comes to technology usually, I suspect there are other North American carriers where you can’t even use flight credits online.

  25. Brian Lusk says:

    DRG
    Exactly, however you took Southwest to task for that very reason: “…it didn’t make as much sense to do things the way EVERYBODY else does them today because of the added sales and marketing advantages that come from having online profiles on your customers.” In that respect, both airlines should be alike in that they can be different. I never said anything negative about JetBlue, I only pointed out how we are different.
    Brian

  26. ptahcha says:

    Virgin America is doing the same. Got a credit? Gotta call. No online options available.

  27. Kate says:

    Gotta credit? Gotta call. Might be ok, but then they shouldn’t charge the 10 bucks. I mean, come on!

    Also note, to comment here we have to input our email address..I hope you don’t spam me, or I’ll have to forward it to random airline industry blog emails.

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