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It would appear that at some point in the very recent past, Emirates quietly updated its JetBlue partner award chart to include the option for Skywards members to redeem their miles for travel in JetBlue’s highly lauded First/Business Class “Mint” cabin. Economy awards have been bookable with Skywards miles for years (JetBlue and Emirates have a longstanding partnership) but this new development appears to have come out of nowhere and is very welcome news to those of us immersed in the miles & points world.
[HT: JT Genter for highlighting this]
The Award Chart
This is now what Emirates’ JetBlue partner award chart looks like:
As you can see, Emirates uses a distance-based award chart for JetBlue redemptions and this means that in contrast to JetBlue’s own loyalty program (which is revenue-based), the Skywards program should offer flyers a good way to get outsized value from bookings on JetBlue.
Collecting Skywards Miles
There probably aren’t many people reading this who have a significant Emirates Skywards balance but, fortunately, that shouldn’t stop a lot of people from being able to make the most of this new redemption option. Skywards is a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi’s ThankYou program with all three program’s points converting over to Skywards Miles in a 1:1 ratio (Capital One is also a transfer partner but with an inferior conversion ratio).
What this means is that Skywards Miles are actually a very easy currency to collect if you have access to cards like the American Express® Gold Card (review), the Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card (review), and the Citi Premier® Card.
Now that we’ve established that Skywards Miles are actually pretty easy to collect, here are a few examples of the routes that can be booked and the cost (in miles) to make the booking for JetBlue’s Mint cabin.
- Boston to Aruba: Distance = 2,057 miles so 52,000 Skywards Miles needed
- Los Angeles to Miami: Distance = 2,342 miles so 52,000 Skywards Miles needed
- Newark to St Maarten: Distance = 1,693 miles so 40,000 Skywards Miles needed
- New York JFK to Aruba: Distance = 1,951 miles so 40,000 Skywards Miles needed
- New York JFK to Los Angeles: Distance = 2,475 miles so 52,000 Skywards Miles needed
- New York JFK to London Heathrow: Distance = 3,451 miles so 64,000 Skywards Miles needed
Most of JetBlue’s Mint routes are over 2,000 miles long so at least 52,000 Skywards Miles will be needed for a significant number of bookings, but there are a number of routes (mainly to the Caribbean) that come in at under 2,000 miles for which just 40,000 Skywards Miles will be needed (the JFK – Aruba route looks like it could offer good value).
Searching & Booking
As JT points out in his post for Nerdwallet, JetBlue’s website doesn’t have an option that allows users to search for awards that partner airlines can book, and because not all of JetBlue’s routes can be found by using the Emirates search engine, another search option will probably be needed.
Personally, I plan to use ExpertFlyer to search for JetBlue Mint availability (Mint seats that are bookable with Skywards Miles book into “I” class so any flight with I class availability showing should be bookable with a phone call to Emirates)……but if you’d prefer not to have to pay for the ExpertFlyer service, the ITA Matrix search is probably your best bet.
The key to seeing useful results when you use the Matrix search tool is to make sure that you specify that you only wish to see results for JetBlue flights and only results for flights that have “I” class seat availability. To do this you’ll need to use the Matrix search’s advanced tools.
Here’s an example of the types of search parameters that you’ll have to use:
Here, “O:B6” tells the search engine to limit results to JetBlue (B6 is JetBlue’s airline code) and “F BC=I” tells the search engine to limit results to flights with “I” class seat availability.
Because the Matrix search doesn’t know that you’re looking for award seats and not revenue seats, it will present you with results showing the cost of a cash fare.
This, however, doesn’t matter. All you’re using this tool for is to identify flights with the right kind of seat availability so once you know which flights are offering “I” class fares, a call to Emirates should be all that it takes to secure your award booking.
Emirates Skywards now allows members to redeem miles for travel in JetBlue’s Mint Business Class cabin. Using Skymiles to book JetBlue’s premium cabin may not always be the most economical option (always check all the options open to you before you commit to a booking) but it’s still an excellent option to now have.