My family has flown on JetBlue many times and we were happy every flight. JetBlue has many features that make the airline very appealing for family travel.
First, in my experience, JetBlue generally has availability (book in advance!) and affordable prices for flights using dollars OR points. Second, JetBlue’s loyalty program, TrueBlue, allows families to pool their points into a family pot, thereby making it easier to use the points. Third, for families that want to fly with their pets, JetPaws is a program that allows families to bring their small pets with them on the flight in a “carry-on” bag. Lastly, JetBlue flights are fun because of the amenities offered on the plane and at some JetBlue terminals.
Whether you pay for flights or book your flights using TrueBlue points, I have found that JetBlue flights are often lower in price or require less points than flights on other airlines. Obviously, I usually book with the points option. Despite the fact that I am forced to book during the school breaks, I have generally found much availability booking with points, and at low redemption amounts. Some of my best TrueBlue point redemptions were spring break flights to the Bahamas last year for a mere 19,000 TrueBlue points per ticket and a ticket for Rob to Puerto Rico (for a friend’s 50th bday celebration) for 25,200 points.
If you are like me, and you want to book flights on points, there are a few ways to acquire TrueBlue points. Obviously, purchasing flights is one way. You earn 3 TrueBlue points per dollar spent on flights, and if you book the flight on jetblue.com, you earn extra points per $1 (based on the fare option). You can also earn JetBlue points booking flights with JetBlue Airline Partners.
Using a JetBlue MasterCard (issued by Barclaycard) is another way to earn TrueBlue points. Some of you may know that these were the cards that replaced the JetBlue American Express card. (BTW, I canceled my JetBlue Amex before it was converted because I want a sign-up bonus when I get a JetBlue Barclaycard). These new JetBlue cards offer bonus points when you use them for JetBlue purchases, at restaurants and at grocery stores. The business card offers bonus points at office supply stores in lieu of grocery stores. With all of the cards, you earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. The bonus offers for the cards are currently at 30,000/10,000 for the fee card/no fee card and 30,000 points for the business card. If you want to learn more about the cards, you can read about them here.
If you are a member of American Express Membership Rewards you can transfer your Membership Rewards points, in 1,000-point increments, to your JetBlue TrueBlue account. Currently, 250 American Express Membership Rewards points equal 200 TrueBlue points. In addition, you can earn points when you shop through the Shop True online site or spend money with JetBlue partners.
If you are a family that flies, hopefully every member of your family has their own frequent flier account. Often, the balances in your kids’ accounts may creep up slowly and never amount to a balance that you can actually use to book a flight. Even more troubling, it is easy for the balances in your kids’ accounts to expire due to inactivity. ( I once ordered magazine subscriptions to prevent my kids American AAdvantage miles from expiring).
The above are issues that you do not have to worry about with the JetBlue TrueBlue program. JetBlue TrueBlue has a unique feature within their program called Family Pooling. With Family Pooling you can combine your individual TrueBlue points in your respective TrueBlue accounts in a family pool. Families can consist of up to 2 adults and 5 children.
For the pool, each family member selects upfront the percentage of points they want to contribute as they earn points. For my family, all (100%) of our individual current and future points go into the family pool. Daniel, my 14 year old, actually made a nice contribution last year when he went to Turks and Caicos with friends for a Bar Mitzvah. The crazy brave mom that hosted the trip was savvy enough to collect the kids’ frequent flier numbers in advance so that they could get credit for the flights.
JetPaws is a JetBlue Program that allows your small pet in a pet carrier to count as a carry-on bag. Your pet carrier cannot exceed 17″L x 12.5″W x 8.5″H and the combined weight of your pet and the carrier must not exceed 20 pounds.
Your pets can be booked online or on the phone. There is a non-refundable pet fee of $100 each way. Only one pet per customer is allowed and a limited number of pets are allowed on each flight, so book early. You even earn 300 TrueBlue points on each flight segment when traveling with your pet.
At the airport you check in your pet at the “Full Service” counter. At the security check-point, you remove your pet and carry (or walk) it while the pet carrier is x-rayed. (Or in the case of my friend’s niece, when she was coming home from college, the carrier with the dog still in it went through the x-ray machine. The dog was fine and the TSA workers showed that sometimes they really do smile )
At all other times, your pets must remain inside the pet carrier while at the airport and onboard the plane. If your pet needs to go to the bathroom, you must exit the airport and return through security. On a side note, just recently, a new pet relief area opened at JFK (though not at the JetBlue terminal). This special bathroom just for animals has a fire hydrant and a patch of artificial turf for the pets to do their business. There are more pet bathrooms being installed at other airports around the country. In fact, there is currently a federal regulation that will require that all airports that service over 10,000 passengers per year install a pet relief area in every terminal by this August.
JetBlue makes for an easy flight with kids because of all of the inflight amenities. There are free UNLIMITED (it actually says unlimited on the JetBlue site) snacks and drinks. If my kids know in advance we are flying Jetblue, they seem more excited about the Terra Blue Chips than the actual trip itself. Every seat has a screen with a lot of viewing options and there is free internet (Fly-Fi) available on most flights.
If you fly JetBlue out of JFK (we often do) there are now napping pods at JetBlue’s Terminal 5. These new MetroNaps Energy Pods offer people complimentary 20-minute “JetNaps” on a first-come, first served basis. The pods have visors for privacy and soothing music piped in through built-in speakers. The pods also have storage bins for your personal items. After 20 minutes, the chair in the pod comes out of a recline position and you are awakened by lights, music and vibration. How much fun will these pods be for your kids, not to mention for us parents?
You can learn a lot more about JetBlue credit cards, earning and using JetBlue TrueBlue points and other features of the program, on my site, The Points Mom. Please encourage your friends to subscribe.