Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pooling Loyalty Points For Rewards...Future For The Industry?

I love loyalty points and programs. Any opportunity to get something back for something I'd buy anyway to me is always a good thing.  But, there have been times when I have wondered when I am actually going to be able "to get something" for my effort.  Grocery store loyalty programs typically have an immediate return: discounts.  However, airline earning programs, in contrast, have a much longer time horizon. But, things may be changing.

According to this Huffington Post article, JetBlue is set to revolutionize points redemption in their True Blue program by allowing "pooling." If one is close to getting an award, but doesn't have enough points, they can link up with family members or friends in their pool and essentially combine balances to meet award thresholds.  The article was a little short on details, but did highlight this:

"Each pooling account needs at least one adult and can include up to seven people. Five can be under 21. The airline says that customers pooling points can be family members or friends."

I have actually never flown JetBlue, so I won't be able to benefit from this anytime soon, but I am excited about what this change may do to prompt my main carrier, United, to do.  Now, if I need to "pool" my miles with my wife, I would have to pay $15 per 1,000 miles + a $30 in processing fees. Unless I am really close to getting an award and need a few points, I am not going to be doing this. So, we'll see how JetBlue's announcement may or may not shake up its competitors. It is certainly an encouraging change. It would spell trouble for Points.com, a web transport vehicle for buying, transferring, and combining points programs.