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]
Adding complexity to a loyalty scheme costs money and incurs management time overhead. Are people who fly twice per year *really* worth going after with a loyatly scheme ? They are likely buying cheap seats fares which have minimal profit margin. Yes, airlines will happily take their money in return for passage, but it seems like somebody in marketing is trying a bit too hard to build themselves a loyalty empire within the airline to further their career.
Alternatively, I’ve got it wrong and Americans really are loyalty / point collecting obsessives who will kill for points worth $10
I think its worth it. First, the brand perception from this move is really strong without as much direct cost as free checked bag, free LiveTV, free Wifi, etc. Second, most people dont earn enough to redeem, and in this scheme, people will split points between personal and family plan, meaning many will pay a transfer fee to top off one account to redeem.
You also ask if the infrequent customer is worth targeting. While Jetblue has been on a BOS Business Pax binge lately, the core customer in many markets, especially JFK is VFR traffic between NY-FL and NY-DR. Based on my family’s experience, Jetblue has become much more expensive than DL, making it harder to chose them. This move does what all loyalty programs are designed to do, change behavior at the margin and get me to chose b6 over DL even if it costs more.
Lets look at the customer value. These families make 2-3 trips per year, 4 people per party, 2 tix per person per trip. This works out to 16-24 tickets per year, many during the peak times when fares are highest (thanksgiving, christmas, new years, spring break). If legacies want to call a 25 segment customer elite and give mileage bonuses and other benefits, why shouldn’t b6 reward its families who do the same 25 flights as well?
Add this to pets couples will fight about in divorce court. Spouse A signed up as head of hold and ‘rules’ the miles, but Spouse B earned most of the miles.
In that case, would the lawyer get paid in miles? ;-)
Somebody must have watched Wedding Crashers recently!
I think a bigger deal for infrequent fliers is that points don’t expire.
I love jetBlue’s product and I love flying from Long Beach, but I rarely use them because they typically don’t fly where I want to go; I’ve even taken Delta from Long Beach more than I’ve flown jetBlue (and much more commonly I fly from LAX because it has better options). Given how little I’ve used jetBlue, and given that the points used to expire after a year, I had pretty much written off their program. Now that the points don’t expire and that I can pool with family (the only times I have flown jetBlue so far were with family), the program becomes marginally more interesting. But to really engage me they’d need to open up more destinations from Long Beach (I know, a tough proposition).
Actually, JetBlue point never expire – a change made earlier this year.
Just an opinion, but I find that most, if not all of these frequent flier campaigns are really nothing more than gimmicks, things you really need a “Philadelphia lawyer” to navidate over. Gimmicks to suck in the unsophisticated consumers.
Like, a couple of days ago, UA announced that with contintental US flights between Oct. 21 and Nov. 21, MP members can earn double miles. Only 16 “easy to comply with” terms and conditions, principal among which, I believe, is the applicable fare classes: F, A, J, C, D, Z, P, Y, B, M, E, U, H, Q, V, W and S. Seems like that’s most of the classes, you think, until you check the current discount fare classes–G, K, L, N and T–and may want to reconsider.
OK, so you get a “V” fare and think you have it made. Well, you probably paid twice as much as what the going discount fares are. Or, you got a “G” fare, but you forgot to check the terms and see that “G” fares are not included in the double-mile campaign.
OK, so UA probably generates more revenue but at what price to consumer loyalty. But, after all, this is the standard customer-company relationship in this industry.
I know Delta sends an occasional offer to “gift” miles and then get a bonus for giving those miles away. We’ve used this to move miles between people so they have enough for an award ticket and the giving party usually get a little bump for being a nice guy. How is a family (i.e. pooled) account better aside from some techincal hassle?
For people with families, pooled accounts are great because now the kids can earn some miles while traveling on a paid fare without having to manage another account.
I have this image in my head, of a circus lion drugged almost until its comatose trained to do all kinds of tricks, just for a reward of a little chocolate drop by the ringmaster at the end. The circus lion has this very distant memory of hunting buffalo in the wilderness, but that was all many years ago.
Seems people really have sunk so low that their lives are given meaning only by a handful of low value loyalty points… !
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.
I guess the only way to figgure this program out is The head of household needs to have a few drinks before reading the rules & regulations or at the very least, watch a few episodes of Big Brother. Then one can decide if it’s worthwhile to sign up. LOL
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?)
There are a few good bits of humor there, but I’m leaving them alone as not to anoy other readers. The Osmonds LOL
What I’m really worried about is if this’ll take away the kids having their own frequent flier accounts. I still get a kick out of the fact that I got my US Air Frequent Flier account when I was five. Still have the same account. Its changed numbers once (US/AW merger) but my signup date is 1985.. Its quite sweet.