Tag: jetblue

If you travel to or from the East Coast once a year, the new JetBlue credit card is a good idea

If you travel to or from the East Coast once a year, the new JetBlue credit card is a good idea

Last year, American Express lost two key credit card partners: JetBlue, and Costco. While the Costco loss was more concerning to most people, I was personally more concerned with the loss of the JetBlue partnership, being based in Boston.

Thankfully, the new JetBlue card from Barclaycard is even better than the previous one from American Express.

There are three cards available: a personal card with an annual fee of $99 and a signup bonus of 30,000 TrueBlue points after spending $1,000 in the first three months, a business card with the same benefits, and a personal card with no annual fee, but only a bonus of 10,000 TrueBlue points.

Now, even if you’re not planning on making it your primary card (which I wouldn’t recommend), the personal card with the annual fee is still worth applying for and holding on to, thanks to its other benefits.

But first, what does the signup bonus of 30,000 points get you? As JetBlue’s award travel is directly correlated to the cost of the flight, it’s worth roughly $400-$500 of JetBlue flights, enough for at least a roundtrip coast-to-coast flight plus maybe an additional one-way flight back.

For example, after you spent the $1,000 on the card to get the bonus, you’d have 31,000 TrueBlue points, which could buy the bottom flight in the image below for 10,400 points (normally $179) almost three times. (For more on their relatively easy award booking process, go here).

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But wait, there’s more! If you get this card, you also 10% of your bonus points back. So if you were to use 10,400 points to buy the flight above, it would essentially only cost you 9,360 points, as you would have 1,040 (10%) points returned to your account. This means that the signup bonus of 30,000 points is essentially closer to 33,000 points, which can get you as much as $567 of flights! Not a bad deal for a $99 fee.

“But why should I keep paying the fee after the bonus?”

Definitely a legitimate and understandable question. On most of my cards, I often will downgrade them to a no annual fee card once the annual fee hits for the next year (for more on this, go here).

However, this is one of the rare co-branded cards where it might be worth paying the fee, as you get an anniversary bonus of 5,000 points every year (which essentially becomes 5,500 points with the bonus).

5,500 points, while much less than 33,000 points, is still more than enough to get you a free one-way flight on shorter routes, such as Boston to DC (normally $84) or SF to LA (normally $72)

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Now, if you wouldn’t normally make one of these flights in a year, the no-fee card might be a better option. But if you already were, then it makes sense to continue paying the annual fee every year in exchange for a free short-haul flight.

On top of that, if you like to check your bags, the savings increases, as you and up to three others get your first checked bag free, a value of $60! And if you want to get the party started on board, the card also gives you 50% off in-flight purchases.

As I mentioned earlier, you should almost never make an airline card your primary credit card, as they tend to have little to no bonus categories. But considering that this card will also give you double points for purchases at restaurants and grocery stores (as well as 6x points on JetBlue purchases), this might actually be worth considering. The only other way to accumulate JetBlue points through credit card spending would be through the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card (but always try to find a link for 50,000 points), which, while it has a slightly higher signup bonus, only transfers to JetBlue at a 5:4 ratio, meaning those 50,000 points are only worth 40,000. The cards are equal in that they both have double points on restaurants and groceries, though the PRG also offers triple points on airfare and double points at gas stations. But in the long run, putting all of your spending on the JetBlue card will yield more TrueBlue points.

And given that JetBlue still offers the best domestic in-flight experience of any carrier, who wouldn’t want that?

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JetBlue continues to offer the best in-flight experience of any domestic airline – and that isn’t changing

JetBlue continues to offer the best in-flight experience of any domestic airline – and that isn’t changing

I recently got to fly JetBlue from Boston to San Francisco, which is always a treat. While it’s certainly not the first time I’ve flown them, it was my first flight on them since I started this blog, and I thought I’d take some time to talk about why I love JetBlue so much (even if they missed out on a chance to become even more amazing by acquiring fellow amazing airline Virgin America).

I first flew JetBlue in 2008 when I needed to book a trip to the Bay Area for a job interview. I booked it because it was the cheapest flight, but immediately, I was impressed with the in-flight TV, great leg room, and lots of quality free snacks. Three years later, they would become the biggest carrier out of Boston’s Logan International Airport, demonstrating that Boston is indeed a big enough market for a major airline to establish a hub there, rather than having their passengers connect through another city to get to their final destination.

A little over a year ago, people freaked out when JetBlue announced that they would be cutting back on leg room and adding checked bag fees. People thought JetBlue was selling out and becoming another big airline that didn’t care about its customers. Lost in the hubbub was the fact that JetBlue still will offer the most leg room (33.1 inches in economy) out of any US domestic carrier. And after flying them last week, I can attest that they still offer the best in-flight experience of any domestic carrier (I hesitate to actually call them the best domestic carrier, as Virgin America’s in-flight experience is almost as good, and they have a better on-time record).

 

If you’re a sports fan (especially of Boston teams), it’s a pretty fun experience to fly JetBlue out of Logan Airport, as the entrance to the Terminal C features the numerous championship banners that Boston sports teams have won.

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As JetBlue has become the biggest carrier out of Logan, Terminal C is now almost exclusively JetBlue flights, save for flights on Emirates and Cape Air (both of whom they partner with) and Sun Country. The mood at the gate was a little festive, as they were celebrating the launch of its new Mint (first-class) cabin on transcontinental flights (which I have heard great things about, but doesn’t really have a place on this blog).

 

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I’ve always been impressed with how JetBlue manages to stay one step ahead of the competition. They were the only domestic airline offering free in-flight TV in 2008, and only now eight years later is this starting to become standard on the larger airlines, though many have not rolled it out to their full fleet yet.

Given that free in-flight TV no longer sets JetBlue apart from the competition, they’ve now aimed to stand out by not only offering free wifi, but wifi that actually works well. If you’ve ever tried to use Gogo Inflight wifi, you’ve probably ended up later cursing yourself for spending money on such an unreliable product. How bad is it? It’s so bad that American Airlines sued them to get out of their contract.

As JetBlue prides itself on customer satisfaction, rather than settle for a contract with a company that provides inferior wifi, they designed their own wifi, known as Fly-Fi. It’s free for basic internet usage like checking email and Facebook, and $10/hour for faster internet for things like streaming (though you can reduce the cost with a card like the Discover It Miles which covers up to $30/year of in-flight wifi). The basic internet also allows for free Amazon streaming.

IMG_20160324_221002 As the NCAA regional semifinals were also on, I did a little bit of multi-tasking, working on my blog, watching basketball in real-time, and doing work for my actual job (and I had no problems connecting to my company’s secure VPN and accessing files on the network).

IMG_20160324_221125If you grew up in the 90s, you might also remember VH1’s Pop-Up Video, which I watched for a little while and learned about Prince’s “1999.”

IMG_20160324_191753As you can see from the above photos, while these seats wouldn’t be mistaken for business class, I still had enough leg room for my 6’7″ frame.

With free in-flight TV, free wifi, plenty of leg room, and free jumbo-sized brand-name snacks and drinks, the 6-hour flight went by very smoothly, to the point that the recent announcements about scaling back do not bother me. Yes, while it would be nice in an ideal world to have free checked bags, JetBlue does need to please the investors somehow, and given that they’re still mostly a domestic carrier, I imagine most people will be able to pack everything they need into a carry-on suitcase.

Of course, for those who just do not want to pay this much money for all these nice amenities, there’s always Spirit.

Have a question? Feel free to email me, or post in the comments below.

 

How loyal JetBlue fliers can get free flights to Hawaii

How loyal JetBlue fliers can get free flights to Hawaii

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If you live in the Boston area (and maybe even New York/Fort Lauderdale area) and regularly take domestic flights, chances are that you’ve probably flown JetBlue a few times, as they have become the largest carrier operating out of Logan International Airport.

As a 6’7″ guy, I try to take JetBlue as often as I can, given the industry-leading leg room, free TV and wi-fi, and large servings of sodas and snacks.

However, while they have started to do some international service to places like Ireland and Peru, they still primarily remain a domestic carrier serving the 48 states.

If you haven’t been to Hawaii, you’ve probably heard absolutely amazing things about it from friends who have been, and if you have been, you know that all of these amazing this are indeed true. Hawaii really is as incredible of a place as people make it out to be, and I can’t recommend going highly enough.

So what’s the connection to JetBlue? Well, JetBlue, despite not being part of a major airline alliance, partners with Hawaiian Airlines, meaning that you can choose to earn JetBlue miles on Hawaiian Airlines flights, Hawaiian Airlines miles on JetBlue flights, redeem Hawaiian Airlines miles for JetBlue flights, and redeem JetBlue miles for Hawaiian Airlines flights.

Now, redeeming JetBlue miles for JetBlue flights is relatively easy. Select your airports and dates, then select TrueBlue points:

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and then you’ll get a screen like this:

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where you can choose your award flights. Like Virgin America and unlike the Big Three airlines, the number of miles directly correlates with the cost of the flight. 10,000 miles is equal to roughly a $150 flight. Select your flight, then go ahead and book.

Unfortunately, using your JetBlue miles to book a Hawaiian Airlines flight is a little more complicated, not to mention not as good of a value. 10,000 JetBlue miles are roughly equal to $100 of Hawaiian Airlines flights, and you need to call the TrueBlue service center to do so. More information can be found here.

Still, if you have a large stash of JetBlue miles that you’re just dying to use, a vacation to Hawaii may be just what the doctor ordered.

Have a question about something? Feel free to e-mail me, or post in the comments below.

 

Cover photo: Ahalanui Hot Springs; Pahoa, HI

A Guide to Airline Alliances and Partnerships

A Guide to Airline Alliances and Partnerships

For almost 40 years (give or take), airlines have been enticing passengers to stay loyal to their airlines offering them frequent flyer miles, in which they will earn a certain amount of “miles” (often equal to the amount of miles they flew), which can then be redeemed for award (read: free) flights based on a redemption chart.

When I tell people I book most of my flights using frequent flyer miles, they often wonder how many flights I had to take (pay for) to earn all those miles. And, with the exception of a few, the answer is often “none.” That’s because thanks to Americans’ awful financial management habits, American credit card companies have been able to offer outstanding signup bonuses on a wide variety of credit cards which has made it very easy to accrue frequent flyer miles without setting foot on an airplane.

But this and the subsequent post is going to stick to how to earn miles when you’re actually flying, which can be especially useful for business travelers whose flights are being paid for on the company dime, but also for those times when it just makes more sense to pay for a flight than redeem miles.

Alliances

There are three main airline alliances in the world: Star Alliance, Oneworld (or oneworld), and SkyTeam. Conveniently, there are also three “legacy carriers” remaining in the US: United, American, and Delta. Each of these belongs to a different alliance: United to Star Alliance, American to Oneworld, and Delta to SkyTeam.

So, what is an alliance? Despite certain airlines’ attempts to seemingly do so (like Emirates), no one airline can fly you everywhere you need to go. This is a result of practicality, cost, legal obstacles, and a number of other factors. Rather than make it so you have to separately book each leg of a flight that is on a different carrier, airlines have formed alliances, meaning that if I want to book a ticket that involves flights on more than one airline, I can still book it as one ticket, provided that they are in the same alliance or partner with each other. And consequently, I can earn miles in one loyalty program from paid flights on another airline, provided that they are in the same alliance or partner with each other.

For example, if I wanted to fly from San Francisco to Tehran (a flight that US airlines legally currently can’t offer even if they wanted to), I could fly United from San Francisco to Frankfurt, then Lufthansa from Frankfurt to Tehran. I can still earn United miles for my flight on Lufthansa since they’re also part of Star Alliance. I can then use those United miles I earned to book a flight (or series of flights) on any Star Alliance airline.

The question of which alliance is the best is one of heated debate (which I’ll probably explore at a later point), though Star Alliance has the highest number of airlines and the most destinations. To be honest, it really depends where you want to travel, as some alliances are better in certain regions. For example, Star Alliance is very useful in Africa, given that it has three member airlines, whereas Oneworld has none. On the other hand, Oneworld is very useful in South America, with two member airlines as well as a plethora of flights from American Airlines’ hub in Miami.

This Wikipedia page provides a more concise overview than any travel blog I’ve seen.

Airline partners

The whole alliance thing sounds easy enough, right? Three US airlines, three global alliances. Well, it would be if every major airline fell into one of the three alliances. The problem is, many airlines do not belong to an alliance. This can happen for a number of reasons, sometimes airlines determine that they can be more profitable by staying independent of an alliance, other times, an alliance may determine an airline does not meet certain standards required for admission into an alliance.

Instead, they’ll form a partnership with airlines that they consider important to their flight destinations (often with airlines that serve the country they fly to). For example, Emirates and JetBlue have a partnership so that people flying into one of the major US cities from Dubai on Emirates can smoothly continue their flight to a smaller US city not served by Emirates (for example if I wanted to fly from Dubai to Charleston, South Carolina, I could fly Emirates from Dubai to Boston, then JetBlue from Boston to Charleston all on one itinerary). As a result, if I primarily fly domestic and don’t anticipate flying Emirates for a while, I could choose to earn JetBlue TrueBlue points for my Emirates flight (or earn Emirates Skywards for the JetBlue flight if I anticipate it being more important to fly Emirates again). Always check the individual airlines’ rules first before making any decisions however, as some may choose you to earn miles on partner flights but not redeem miles on partner flights (or vice versa). This is indeed the case with the Emirates-JetBlue partnership, as you can NOT use JetBlue miles to book Emirates award flights.

The Emirates-JetBlue partnership is an easier example however, because neither of those airlines are affiliated with an alliance. Where it can get complicated is when you have partnerships involving one airline in an alliance and one airline not in an alliance. A good example is Alaska Airlines. Alaska has partnerships with both American and Delta (among other airlines), even though they are in rival alliances. So, what does this mean?

Can you earn Alaska Airlines miles on American Airlines flights? Yes

Can you earn Alaska Airlines miles on Delta Airlines flights? Yes

Can you earn Delta Airlines SkyTeam miles on Alaska Airlines flights? Yes

Can you earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles on Alaska Airlines flights? Yes

Can you redeem Alaska Airlines miles for American Airlines award flights? Yes

Can you redeem Alaska Airlines miles for Delta Airlines award flights? Yes

Can you redeem Delta Airlines SkyTeam miles for Alaska Airlines award flights? Yes

Can you redeem American Airlines SkyTeam miles for Alaska Airlines award flights? Yes

Can you redeem Alaska Airlines miles for Oneworld award flights? NO. It doesn’t matter that Alaska Airlines partners with an airline (American) that is a member of the Oneworld alliance.

Can you redeem Alaska Airlines miles for Skyteam award flights? NO. It doesn’t matter that Alaska Airlines partners with an airline (Delta) that is a member of the Skyteam alliance.

Easy enough?

The bottom line: Whenever you have a paid flight, take time to learn about what frequent flyer programs you can earn miles for, and which will make the most sense for you given your future travel plans.