This week WTM contributor John Mccall of Travel on Blue takes us through the basics of booking JetBlue award tickets on JetBlue.com
Growing up as an airline in the new century, JetBlue has had a leg up by starting with a website that was able to take advantage of design principles many other companies have needed to play catch up with. Their website is functional and simple- which is also how I would describe the process of booking an award flight JetBlue.com. It’s easy to compare points versus dollar costs to establish the best use of miles and the dynamic design makes switching between the two fast and painless, so whatever payment method you decide is only a click or two away.
Finding a Flight
Navigating to book a flight of any kind on JetBlue’s site is extremely easy – just select ‘Plan a Trip’ from the top left corner of the main site – and you’re off! If you’re already logged into your TrueBlue account, then you may also see the flight search box displayed prominently on your home page. Either way works to book an award flight.
The initial flight search page allows you to input your basic options, including a special choice for multi-city trips. Although JetBlue doesn’t differ pricing for open-jaw trips, this feature can certainly make planning out a larger itinerary a whole lot easier. It can cut some of the laborious steps that normally involve searching multi-leg trips one by one down to a more manageable size. However you won’t be able to great as creative with free stopovers and one-ways as you would using some other airline miles.
Also included in the search widget is a link to fees and service information that may impact the overall cost of your flight, such as if you are bringing a pet or plan to haul your surfboard along with you. It’s worth remembering that the fees for awards flights are almost always a lot less than if you pay cash for a flight – sometimes as much as 75% less.
At the bottom of the search box there is the option to search in dollars or points. JetBlue doesn’t allow partial point trips, so the dollars versus points search is an all or nothing endeavor.
Finding the Best Price
Once you’ve got some flights that match your criteria, in either dollar or point values (I prefer to start with dollars to get a better grasp of the value of each flight) you can quickly and easily switch between denominations to find the best deal by using the Dollar / TrueBlue Points sort buttons at the top of the page.
Once you’ve selected your desired flights, changing the buttons will automatically refresh the page and display the same total as well as various flight options you were previously shown in the alternative currency format. This makes for quick and easy comparison of reward flights and helps to determine the value of cents per point you’ll be utilizing since JetBlue’s value can vary a bit more than most reward programs. Not that this is unique to JetBlue (Southwest also has this option), but it can certainly make comparing award flight prices simple and fast.
Staying on Top of Fare Prices
Keeping up with fare prices isn’t always fun or easy. There are a ton of third party sites out there that help with the process (I love Kayak personally) but it can’t hurt to have some information straight from the source, either. JetBlue provides fare alerts as an option on the top of the ‘Plan a Trip’ page.
You can sign up for emails about your ‘favorited’ destinations as well as get SMS text alerts to your cell phone about new drops in flight ticket prices.
The Bottom Line
JetBlue ultimately provides a fairly seamless and fluid award booking experience through a well designed site, dynamic payment controls, and no seat restrictions (they’re all coach!). This removes much of the hassle and voodoo most often associated with booking a flight paid for with points that fits your requirements and also is a productive use of your rewards. With that in mind the value per point will vary depending on the value of the comparable paid ticket–this means award flight availability is good, but value per point will vary greatly.
✈ If you enjoyed reading this you can sign-up to receive blog posts via email (max of 1 email per day) or like us on Facebook! And as always feel free to ask questions in the comments below or email me.