Skift Breaking News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Airlines

JetBlue Adds Blade Helicopter Flights to Loyalty Program

2 weeks ago

Getting a quick lift on a Blade Air Mobility helicopter from New York’s JFK airport to Manhattan? Soon travelers will also get perks in JetBlue Airways’ loyalty program, TrueBlue, on their flight.

JetBlue will offer top tier Mosaic TrueBlue members a “limited number” of free seats on Blade’s flights between its heliport on East 34th Street in Manhattan and JFK airport, and all TrueBlue members will have access to “preferred pricing” for their first Blade airport flight. What is not clear is whether Blade flights will earn TrueBlue members points in the loyalty program. Blade will be “integrated” into the TrueBlue program — suggesting more benefits are to come — by early 2023.

(Blade)

“This partnership with Blade will help us further evolve and enhance our TrueBlue program so our
most loyal customers can enjoy more perks more often,” JetBlue Vice President of Loyalty and Partnerships Chris Buckner said.

The JetBlue-Blade partnership evokes a similar image to that of the electric vertical takeoff and landing, or eVTOL, aircraft the likes of American Airlines, United Airlines, and others see as the future of connecting people to a major airport in a large metropolitan area. However, Blade, which operates traditional gas-powered helicopters, is very much of the past generation of polluting, noisy, and exclusive urban air transport that the eVTOL industry is trying to distance itself from. Tickets on Blade flights from either JFK or Newark airports to Manhattan begin at $195 per person; the cost of a train ride from either airport ranges from $15.50 to $18.75 per person.

Blade will begin offering “continuous” service 13 hours a day, six days a week between Manhattan and JFK on June 27.

Airlines

United’s MileagePlus Adds Unique Airline Partner, JSX

1 month ago

Travelers on private jet-like airline JSX just got another perk beyond skipping busy airport terminals and security queues: they can now earn points in United Airlines’ MileagePlus loyalty program.

JSX flyers can earn up to 100 percent of the miles flown in MileagePlus under the new partnership unveiled Thursday. The pact is the first for United’s loyalty program with a non-traditional airline operator, and the second for JSX, which already partners with JetBlue Airways’ TrueBlue program.

(JSX)

“This unique agreement presents an unmatched opportunity for JSX customers to earn MileagePlus miles and redeem them for travel to United’s global network of destinations,” said Luc Bondar, president of MileagePlus at United, in a statement.

JSX and United said “more cooperation” is planned and will be announced later this year.

JSX describes itself as providing “hop-on jet service.” In practice, the airline sells a premium onboard product on 30-seat Embraer regional jets that fly to and from private jet terminals, which allows travelers to avoid busy airport terminals. It also provides private jet charters. JSX primarily flies between airports in northern and southern California, but also offers a growing network in Colorado, Florida, and Texas.

Hotels

Marriott Partners With Alipay In China on Bonvoy Perks

1 month ago

Marriott International has signed a new partnership with China’s Ant Group, which owns online payment platform Alipay, to help it drive more business in the region.

Marriott will now give Alipay members a range of benefits when they sign up to Marriott’s loyalty program Bonvoy, including digital coupons for an afternoon tea at its hotels, or the chance to enter a lucky draw by spending at the hotel.

Breakfast promotions are also offered at various cities, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Chengdu and Sanya.

The tie-up is the latest deal in its plan to leverage loyalty to bolster its presence in across Asia.

The hotel group already has a joint venture with e-commerce giant Alibaba in China. Marriott considers its storefront on Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel division where it sells its global hotel inventory, to be a direct-booking channel with costs that are lower than going through online travel agency distribution.

Marriott said this latest Alipay partnership is in addition to the 10-plus million newly-enrolled members the company has gained through various channels since 2017 in China, including through Fliggy, as well as other Ant initiatives.

Marriott International has 450 operating hotels across 23 brands in Greater China.

“To support the recovery of the travel industry, we are looking to offer exclusive travel experiences for high-net-worth members using Alipay,” said Henry Lee, President, Greater China, Marriott International.

Marriott has previously launched Korea’s first-ever co-branded hotel credit cards, and two new co-branded cards have also been launched in Japan.

“Marriott Bonvoy really is at the heart of our consumer strategy and we are doing everything we can to grow the program,” Bart Buiring, chief sales and marketing officer for Asia Pacific at Marriott International, previously said.

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