jetBlue’s award system is broken #jetBlows

I think of jetBlue as a company with new comfy planes, no first class, plenty of leg room and nice little TVs. I love flying with them and was excited when they joined with American Express to offer a jetBlue card. I’ve been using the card for the last few years, earning rewards flights.

The only problem is the award system was masterminded by a supervillain. And it’s all in the fine print.

1. Points don’t expire*.

They sure don’t. But your earned rewards do if you don’t book them. They expire after a year. JetBlue’s response to this is simply, “You don’t have to fly within the year, you just have to book the flight”. I wonder how many PR execs it took to come up with that one. That’s a very nice way of saying, “we’ll give you an extra 6 months”.

2. You’re second class on a classless jet.

Unlike most other airline mile programs out there, you can only use your earned rewards for designated seats on each flight. The number of reward seats given to each flight is a mystery. JetBlue only guarantees that there is at least one (and maybe more will open up). However, on popular flights or times, that’s unlikely.

What this means is that a flight that still has open seats cannot be booked with your earned reward (which took you around $20,000 spent to earn). Right now, I am trying to book a flight 6 months in advance and all direct reward seats are taken (see below).

When you earn miles on other airlines, you use them for the same exact seats that other people buy. They are treated like cash and truly make you feel like you earned something.

3. Customer service doesn’t like it either

Customer service with jetBlue didn’t budge for me when I tried to get on a flight with my reward. Instead, they said:

  • Why don’t you just leave the day before and come back the day after (Work usually doesn’t allow me to leave on a Thursday and come back on a Monday)
  • You can book it now and pay all types of fees to change the date. My free flight isn’t so free anymore.
  • And finally, acceptance. They know it sucks and say it’s going to change soon. But my rewards are expiring now and no other information is given.

4. Compromise

You can obviously still use your reward, but it takes compromise. You need to either change your dates, go at weird hours or take unnecessary connections to keep the flight free.

And to think, I get all this by paying an annual fee of $40. Goodbye jetBlue card.

5. Examples

These screenshots taken today are very familiar to any jetBlue’er.

I am trying to book a flight in December (6 months ahead of time and am still facing problems).

Let’s just try a random friday well in the future. Result: Either go early, or do silly connections.

Las Vegas in 2 months (not labor day weekend). Only if you want to arrive at midnight or have a layover in boston.

It’s the same thing over and over again. If the date is within a month, good luck! You usually aren’t offered any flight.