American, JetBlue Add Reciprocal Elite Benefits, Share Details of Upcoming Mileage Redemptions – Forbes Advisor

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Despite a pending DOJ lawsuit trying to block their partnership, JetBlue and American Airlines just rolled out new reciprocal benefits for elite members — with more perks on the way. Plus, starting in November, travelers will be able to redeem AAdvantage miles for JetBlue flights.

These new loyalty benefits come nearly 15 months after the two airlines first announced the so-called Northeast Alliance. At that time, American Airlines teased that details of new loyalty benefits would be shared “soon”. It’s been a long wait, but late is better than never.

Let’s dig into what American Airlines and JetBlue flyers need to know about the expanded partnership.

American AAdvantage Elite Perks on JetBlue

Starting October 13, American Airlines elite members get certain elite perks when flying JetBlue. These include:

  • Priority check-in
  • Priority security (where available)
  • Priority boarding
  • Priority bag delivery (not available for Gold elites)
  • Checked bag benefits

AAdvantage elites get at least one free checked bag when flying on JetBlue. Gold elites can check one bag for free while Platinum and higher elites will get two free checked bags. This benefit mostly mirrors the baggage benefits AAdvantage elites get when flying American. However, Executive Platinum elites will only get 2 free checked bags when flying JetBlue instead of 3 when flying American.

In addition to these new elite perks, one elite perk is already in place. AAdvantage elites will continue to earn bonus miles when flying JetBlue. Since May 2021, AAdvantage members have earned between 5 and 11 miles per dollar spent on JetBlue flights credited to the AAdvantage program.

What perks are missing from the partnership

A few of the notable perks are missing from this list. For example, American Airlines elite members won’t get upgrades on JetBlue — as AAdvantage elites get when flying on American and Alaska.

AAdvantage elites won’t even get access to JetBlue’s Even More Space seats for free. However, American Airlines confirmed to Forbes Advisor that the airline is in discussions with JetBlue about how to provide some sort of “preferred seat”-type benefit to AAdvantage elites. However, these would just provide access to window and aisle seats rather than extra-legroom.

Another perk that’s nice to have is the ability to change to a different flight on the same day — whether a work meeting ends early or lasts longer than expected. Unfortunately, AAdvantage elites won’t get same-day flight change perks on JetBlue that they enjoy on American.

On American, AAdvantage Executive Platinum and Platinum Pro elites can check bags weighing up to 70 pounds each at no additional cost. However, JetBlue’s overweight baggage policies doesn’t include an exception for American Airlines elites. So if you’re a heavy packer, you’ll want to stick to flying American Airlines.

JetBlue Mosaic Elite Perks on American

JetBlue only offers one tier of elite status: Mosaic. Starting October 13, 2021, Mosaic elites will enjoy a slew of new benefits when flying on American:

  • Priority check-in
  • Expedited security lanes
  • Group 4 priority boarding
  • Priority bag delivery
  • Up to two free checked bags
  • Complimentary same day changes to flights

For now, Mosaic elites will only get free checked bags when they check in at American ticket counters. However, this perk will be rolled out to all check-in channels “soon”.

Based on JetBlue’s website, Mosaic elites need to book on JetBlue’s website and enter their TrueBlue number when booking to get these perks.

What perks are missing from the partnership

Through this new partnership, Mosaic elites will enjoy most of the benefits they’re used to when flying American. But a few notable perks are missing.

The biggest of these is extra-legroom seats. Mosaic elites get free access to Even More Space seats upon request at the airport on the day of departure. For now, Mosaics won’t enjoy any seating perks when flying on American. However, an American Airlines spokesperson shared that TrueBlue Mosaic elites will receive preferred seats when flying on American in the coming weeks.

Also, Mosaic elites won’t get complimentary alcoholic beverages when flying on American Airlines. And that’s not just because American has suspended alcohol service in economy through January 2022. So if you enjoy these boozy benefits, you’ll want to stick to JetBlue.

AAdvantage Redemptions on JetBlue Coming Soon

Sometime in November 2021, travelers will get the chance to redeem AAdvantage miles for JetBlue flights. American confirmed to Forbes Advisor that redemptions will be priced based on American Airlines’ partner award chart — with a couple of modifications.

That means domestic JetBlue flights will cost 12,500 miles each way. JetBlue awards to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America will cost 17,500 miles each way. And, JetBlue flights to northern South America will be priced at 20,000 miles each way.

AAdvantage members will also be able to redeem miles for JetBlue Mint awards. But, unfortunately, Mint awards will be priced at AAdvantage first class levels — not business class. Even worse, AAdvantage members will have to pay a surcharge on awards that include segments in JetBlue Mint between Los Angeles or San Francisco and Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, New York Kennedy (JFK) or LaGuardia (LGA), Newark or West Palm Beach .

JetBlue’s new flights to London aren’t part of its Northeast Alliance with American Airlines which means that AAdvantage members won’t be able to redeem miles for these JetBlue flights.

Putting it all together, here’s how the AAdvantage award chart for JetBlue flights will work:

American Airlines also confirmed to Forbes Advisor that AAdvantage members will be able to book awards that include flights on a combination of partner airlines. So, you can book an itinerary that connects from American Airlines to JetBlue or between JetBlue and other American Airlines partners.

TrueBlue Redemptions on American Flights

Unfortunately, the details are much more slim about TrueBlue awards on American Airlines flights. In JetBlue’s announcement of the new reciprocal perks, the airline noted that TrueBlue members will be able to redeem points for flights operated by American “in the future”.

An American Airlines spokesperson provided a more specific deadline. In a statement to Forbes Advisor, the spokesperson said that JetBlue is working towards delivering redemption options to its members in the coming months.

Part of what is surely complicating matters is that JetBlue doesn’t publish award charts. Instead, it uses a dynamic award pricing system that bases the award cost of a flight on the cash price of that flight. Before launching AA awards, JetBlue will need to iron out how to price award flights on American.

Pending DOJ Lawsuit Threatens Partnership

JetBlue and American are forging ahead with their partnership despite a rather large dark cloud hanging over the Northeast Alliance. On September 21, 2021, the US Department of Justice and Attorneys General from six states and the District of Columbia sued to block the “de facto merger between American and JetBlue in Boston and New York City.”

The antitrust lawsuit alleges the airlines are eliminating important competition in Boston and New York City by coordinating on all aspects of network planning and sharing revenue for flights through these airports. The suit argues that “this combination would raise prices and reduce choices for air passengers traveling to and from Boston and New York City.”

The airlines rebutted the lawsuit by pointing out that the “alliance” is positive for travelers. In 2021, JetBlue and American added a combined 58 new routes and increased the number of weekly flights on more than 130 additional routes. Included in those new routes are flights from New York JFK to Tel Aviv, Israel; Athens, Greece; and Delhi, India.

Even if the lawsuit is successful, American and JetBlue could continue to offer the same reciprocal elite benefits and mileage earning and redemption options. However, the airlines wouldn’t have the same financial incentive to work together so it’s likely that these loyalty program benefits would end if the Northeast Alliance is struck down.

Bottom line

American Airlines and JetBlue just added loyalty program benefits to their Northeast Alliance, after almost 15 months of teasing these perks. Starting October 13, 2021, AAdvantage elites will enjoy a range of benefits when flying on JetBlue, and JetBlue elites will enjoy most Mosaic benefits when flying on American.

In addition, AAdvantage members can look forward to redeeming miles on most JetBlue flights some time in November. While it’s good to see American sticking to its partner award chart, it’s disappointing that JetBlue Mint flights will be priced as first class awards. TrueBlue members are going to have to wait a bit longer to redeem points on American flights, but it seems the airlines are aiming to add this by the end of the year.

However, all of these perks may be temporary. If the DOJ antitrust lawsuit against the Northeast Alliance is successful, all of these partner benefits may be on the chopping block.

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