Some links to products and travel providers on this website will earn Traveling For Miles a commission that helps contribute to the running of the site. Traveling For Miles has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling For Miles and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. For more details please see the disclosures found at the bottom of every page.
American Airlines and JetBlue first announced their (slightly surprising) partnership back in July last year but other than offering members of each other’s loyalty programs the ability to earn their preferred currency when flying, so far the partnership has offered little in the way of reciprocal elite status benefits. Starting this today, however, that has all changed.
JetBlue and American Airlines have been making a big deal of their new alliance and have gone to great lengths to promote their strength in the US Northeast as well as focusing attention on the fact that, between them, the airlines offer lie-flat seating in the premium cabin on 11 of the domestic transcon routes that they operate.
Vasu Raja, American’s Chief Revenue Officer, has this to say about the partnership “[The] Northeast Alliance with JetBlue gives customers more choices and benefits and raises the bar on offering an industry-leading experience.” He went on to say that the airlines are unlocking more destinations for travelers, offering more flying for both their teams, offering a better suite of products and “a premium experience in the Northeast.”
That’s all very nice and very impressive but as nice and impressive as aspects of this partnership are, the people who fly these airlines with the greatest frequencies also like to be able to make the most of their (often) hard-earned elite status when they travel and, so far, other than limited reciprocal mileage earning and limited reciprocal elite credit earning (which were introduced in May), there hasn’t really been much to tempt elites from one airline to fly with the other.
Fortunately, as of today, American Airlines and JetBlue elites can now enjoy what the two airlines are calling “the first phase of reciprocal benefits”.
AA/JetBlue Reciprocal Elite Benefits
I should probably start this section by setting appropriate expectation levels so the first thing that I have to say about these new reciprocal benefits is that they’re not going to get many people excited…but they’re a start.
As of today, American Airlines AAdvantage elites and JetBlue TrueBlue Mosaic elites will enjoy the following benefits on both airlines:
- Priority check-in
- Priority baggage
- Priority security
- Priority boarding
- Enhanced baggage allowance (up to two complimentary checked bags)
While American’s press release doesn’t make any mention of this, JetBlue’s press release also says that its elite flyers will have access to expedited security lanes and complimentary same-day changes to flights when flying with American Airlines.
The two airlines aren’t yet in a position to offer reciprocal preferred seating to each other’s elite flyers but we’re told that JetBlue elites should be able to make the most of preferred seating on American Airlines in the coming weeks while American Airlines flyers will have to wait a little longer – the fact that JetBlue doesn’t offer preferred seating to its own elites (let alone to elites from another airline) appears to be causing an issue [HT: VFTW for this extra information]
Miles & Points Redemptions
A key benefit that’s missing from the list above (and which AAdvantage and True Blue members will probably care about quite a bit) is the ability for flyers to burn miles/points on both airlines. Fortunately, there’s good news on that front.
When American and JetBlue first announced that reciprocal elite benefits would be arriving this fall I, rather harshly, suggested that we shouldn’t expect them to get their act together quick enough to offer reciprocal mileage burning until at least early 2022 (and possibly not even then). Well, it turns out that my pessimism was uncalled for because today’s announcement confirmed that reciprocal mileage redemption will start as early as next month.
We haven’t been given any information regarding how American Airlines flights will be incorporated into TrueBlue, but American has given us some indications of how it plans to allow its flyers to redeem miles for JetBlue flights.
At some point next month, JetBlue will be added to AAdvantage as a partner airline (for the purpose of award bookings) but some JetBlue bookings will be priced slightly differently to flights offered by American’s other partners.
- No transatlantic redemptions – AAdvantage Miles will not be redeemable for transatlantic travel on JetBlue (not a surprise considering JetBlue’s agreement with American Airlines doesn’t cover its transatlantic flights).
- Transcontinental Mint will be priced differently – JetBlue’s transcontinental Mint cabin will come with a surcharge and will therefore cost more than a standard First Class redemption as shown in the current award chart. VFTW has been told that Mint cabin bookings between Boston/New York/ Miami/Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach and the west coast will cost 15,000 miles more than a standard partner First Class fare for travel within the contiguous 48 U.S. states & Canada. This will price transcontinental Mint flights at 65,000 miles one-way.
- Standard Mint cabins will be treated as First Class – All other Mint cabin bookings will be priced at the 3-cabin First Class level rather than at the Business Class level.
Essentially, booking JetBlue’s Mint cabin with AAdvantage Miles is going to be expensive and travelers will do better if they use miles from an Emirates Skywards account to book the cabin.
American Airlines and JetBlue have now launched the first phase of reciprocal benefits for elite flyers of their respective frequent flyer programs. Benefits such as priority boarding, priority check-in, priority baggage, and enhanced baggage allowances are now available to AAdvantage elites flying with JetBlue and to TrueBlue Mosaic elites flying with American Airlines. Reciprocal complimentary preferred seating is on the way, and November will see American Airlines and JetBlue flyers allowed to redeem their miles and points on both airlines.