I'm still seeing friends planning crazy year-end mileage runs (during the holidays when airports are at their worst!) just to keep Delta/United/American status. I can't help but wonder if they're doing that out of old habits or if they've adjusted their math for the new reality.
These days airlines reward points based on dollars spent (not miles flown), and airlines are actively pushing to sell every single upgraded seat instead of giving it away as a free upgrade to their elites. With load factors on the airlines at an all-time high, the era of the complimentary upgrade is largely a thing of the past. (And as I've written about before, I found complimentary upgrades to be way more stress-inducing than you might expect).
My husband flies JetBlue for work and was surprised when he made their "Mosaic" elite status only halfway thru 2015. JetBlue had never offered a First Class cabin until their Mint product launched in late 2014, and they didn't really update TrueBlue's Mosaic qualifications in response to it. It only takes around 3 transcontinental Mint round trips (i.e., $5000 in spending) to qualify for Mosaic.
|TrueBlue Mosaic welcome kit|
In our case, Mosaic was worth $1237
Here's how I came up with that number: First, JetBlue's TrueBlue points have a fairly fixed dollar value – around 1.3¢ – which makes calculating their value much easier than legacy carriers' points which can vary between 0.5¢ and 13¢ depending on how you redeem them.
The most important rule in doing this math is that we never blindly fly JetBlue. We've never passed up a better deal on Delta, United, etc. because we were "JetBlue people"The Mosaic features we used/will use in 2016 and what they're worth to us:
- free changes to your itinerary. this was worth $0 because all our itinerary changes were driven by his work so work paid. (Change fees are normally $70-$150 depending on the ticket price)
- discounted Premium Economy upgrades for anyone on his itinerary (i.e., $9-ish worth of points to upgrade one transcon leg versus $65). 14 upgraded legs (8 for him, 6 for me) = $770.
- bonus points earned for paid flying (≈17,000 extra points worth $220)
- 15,000 point bonus ($195) when you reach Mosaic
- free checked bag. $40 (2 @ $20 each)
- free liquor in Economy. ≈$12
- early boarding $0 - not a big deal to us.
- dedicated phone line $0 – JetBlue's normal phone line is actually quite good.
One more wrinkle: JetBlue runs 3 other random bonus programs: Go Long, Take 3, Lucky 7. If you make Mosaic, you'll likely hit at least one of those bonuses too. He hit all 3 and earned another 22,000 points ($286).
Knowing what status is actually worth can help you from blindly chasing it for its own sake.