Skift Take

Demand to Cuba may be weaker than originally forecasted, leaving airlines like JetBlue to incentivize travel. Through March 18th, TrueBlue members will be rewarded with 3X the points when traveling to the region.

It wasn’t long ago that U.S. airlines were falling over themselves in an attempt to lock in commercial routes to Cuba — and share the news with the public. Less than five months after its first flight from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara, Cuba though, JetBlue has started piling on TrueBlue loyalty program incentives to drum up more business on the routes.

The deal comes in the form of triple or 3X points for TrueBlue members flying from the U.S. to Camagüey, Havana, Holguin, or Santa Clara, Cuba starting on January 18th and through March 18th. Members need to register for the promotion at prior to travel.

TrueBlue Points are typically earned as a function of spend on JetBlue; basic members earn 3 points for every dollar spent while more expensive fares earn up to 5 points per dollar. With the promotion launched today, a basic $300 fare from Miami to Havana will now earn 900 points instead of 300.

JetBlue’s promotion may be an indication of how soft the market for air travel between the U.S. and Cuba may actually be, especially cities that aren’t named Havana. Late in November, American Airlines trimmed back its plans for expansion through the country after a good portion of its flights were leaving with light volumes — in some cases, only a dozen passengers. And while that demand will eventually pick up as more Americans consider the destination and the Cuban economy improves, airlines may not have the patience to idly burn cash and fly empty aircraft.

To that end, more promotions like JetBlue’s 3X incentive may be in store for the industry this year. For travelers, this will be a great incentive to see the country while tourism in the region is still in its infancy. Until tourism and air traffic hits its peak though, the airlines may be at the wrong end of the deal.


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Tags: cuba, jetblue airways, loyalty

Photo credit: A JetBlue plane arriving in Santa Clara, Cuba in August 2016. The airline is offering additional loyalty points for its TrueBlue members flying to Cuba.

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