If you’re not already a member of JetBlue’s TrueBlue frequent flier program, you might have missed the airline’s announcement that it will allow the pooling of points between family members. This is a nice benefit, particularly for infrequent fliers.
The program itself is fairly loose in defining a family. One person who is over 21 years of age (think it’s because they think you need to be legally drunk to bother signing up?) can set up an account as the Head of Household. That person will be in charge of the account and will be the only person able to redeem points.
Once you’re set up, you can add up to 1 additional adult who is at least 21 and 5 kids who are under 21. (I wonder if they’ve considered a special exemption on that in Utah?) The relationships in here are, as mentioned, pretty loose. You can define it as mother, daughter, etc. But there is also an “other” option. Basically, anyone who wants to join a family group can do it, but you can only be a part of one family at a time in the program.
Once you join a group, you can make a one time transfer from your individual account to the family account without any charge. Once in the family account, however, the points can’t move back. After that, you have to set the percentage of points that stick in your personal account and the percent that get moved to the family account. The minimum going to the family account is 10 percent, but it can go up to 100 percent if you’d like. That will be locked in for a year, but each year you have the ability to change your percentage.
Unlike a real family (unless you’re Macaulay Culkin), you can leave the family group anytime. But if you leave, then JetBlue will publicly shame the Head of Household for ruining the family bond. Oh wait, that’s not right. The person leaving is actually the one punished. That person can’t join another family group for a year. The only exception? If you turn 21, you have two options.
Option #1 – If there is only one adult in the group, you can become the other one in the family. If there are two adults already, you’re out of luck here.
Option #2 – You can leave the group and then immediately create or join a new group. You’re all growns up.
Once the points are in the family account, the only way out is for the Head of Household to spend them. They act like any other TrueBlue points, and they can be redeemed in the same way. So is this a good thing?
It’s a great thing if you don’t fly a lot. JetBlue’s program is revenue-based, so if you just fly a couple roundtrips somewhere, you’re unlikely to have enough points to even spring for a one way short hop. But if you can combine 5 people who have flown a couple roundtrips each… now we’re talking.
If you’re sold, you can start signing up here. Might as well do it before your significant other beats you to it so that you can become the Head of Household and rule the universe.
I like this idea. It creates a lot of utility for the more casual traveler without opening JetBlue up to much risk. Could a secondary market be created where people would sell their points to another person? I don’t know. Check craigslist and find out. But seriously, it would be pretty hard to make much of a living doing that since you’re required to sit for a full year before joining another group. I just can’t imagine that being a lucrative plan for a scammer.
Really, it’s just an innovative and fairly low-cost way to give people a nice extra benefit. There are other programs with these types of plans, but none by a US carrier for people in the US so this is a nice differentiator.
[Family pool picture via Shutterstock]