In a move that came from way out in left field, American Airlines and JetBlue announced a partnership last week. This is not like the American Airlines/Alaska Airlines move that came out before but a new way to help travelers of both AA and JetBlue tap into each network, especially in the northeast.
The New American Airlines / JetBlue Partnership
So, what is this new partnership and how will it help you, the traveler? First, this is not JetBlue joining AA or oneworld – they will still be alliance-less.
Connecting Flights = Seamless Experiences
To start with, it will allow JetBlue or American Airline passengers to book a ticket that will include both airlines as a single ticket. This means that you can book out of a AA-serviced airport and connect for a flight to a JetBlue city – all with a single check-in and baggage check. These will be codeshare flights.
In an even broader sense, it will open up opportunities for JetBlue fans to take advantage of international flights in places that JetBlue does not service. For instance, in the same announcement, American Airlines said that they will begin servicing Tel Aviv and Athens from JFK in 2021. They will also resume seasonal service to Rio de Janeiro.
More Destinations Await
This is a big move by AA who had actually been moving away from JFK a bit. Now, they will be serving two major tourist destinations in Europe/Middle East which also have a large population in the metro-NYC area with Greek and Jewish people who fly back to their ancestral countries every year.
The problem with those flights is that AA really does not have many flights from regional airports to JFK. For instance, if I wanted to take advantage of either of those destinations (which I am really excited about!) from my old, western NY airports (BUF or ROC) with AA, I would need to fly from them to either BOS, PHL, or DCA before arriving in JFK. Not practical!
Now, by linking up with JetBlue to provide feeder flights, people all over the northeastern US can now fly to JFK to connect to an international AA flight – all on one ticket.
Plus, AA has also promised that they will be adding even more flights to Europe, Africa, India, and South America!
Elite Status Benefits?
While AA has several elite tiers with real benefits attached, JetBlue has their single Mosaic status that offers some benefits but not like the old-school elite benefits of AA/Delta/United.
There is no word yet but AA has said they “look forward to sharing information about new loyalty benefits for AAdvantage and TrueBlue members soon”.
My guess is that this will mean mileage earning (likely only on flights that are booked as the codeshare – so JetBlue points would only be earned on flights that have AA booked as a JetBlue codeshare) as well as things like priority check-in and free baggage for elites. We won’t see upgrades as part of this. But, hopefully we will see some mileage redemption options through this as well.
In the midst of the worst time for air travel ever, it is nice to see airlines positioning to come out of this with some strength and ways to be more useful to customers. There is no question that airlines are going to need to work more together as many routes/frequencies get cut and this new partnership gives us a sense of how this could work.