The Adrian Loveridge Column – Useless American AAdvantage miles

Occasionally I get castigated for my concentration on airlift and frankly I make no apologies, until we find another more effective way of getting visitors to Barbados and returning them home.

For ten years our US arrival numbers were virtually stagnant, until changes were made in national marketing personnel and the introduction of new airlines. None have proven more successful than JetBlue and a great deal of what has turned out to be a remarkable smart partnership must be down to personalities and relationships and I sincerely applaud all those who have made it possible.

As their charismatic President and CEO, British born Robin Hayes recently pointed out on a TV interview, the United States domestic market and to a slightly lesser extent their overseas reach, has become dominated by 4 carriers, relatively driven by consolidation and mergers or acquisitions.

Despite this, what has been quoted as holding an 80 per cent market reach, or some may call dominance, airlines like JetBlue have flourished, for several reasons, but pricing and superior customer service delivery has played a very important part.

It also clear to see that the ‘newcomers’ think differently to the longer established so called legacy carriers. They are seemingly willing to sit around a table to look for win-win relationships with destinations like Barbados. Of course this scenario is a marriage made in heaven for tourism planners and policymakers, let alone the private sector partners.

While no-one can detract from the north east corridor of airports like New York, Liberty (Newark) and Boston in terms of visitor volume, personally I feel there is still enormous potential that can be derived from Florida and especially through the lower cost operating airport of Fort Lauderdale (FLL).

I was privileged to be among a group welcoming the first FLL maiden

JetBlue flight into Barbados and if I remember correctly, the state representative for the county in which the airport is located, estimated that there would be a 60/40 mix of passengers who took this flight. 60 per cent intent of experiencing a holiday on Barbados and 40 percent of Barbadians, travelling to/from home.

I am not sure if the landed figures since the route has been operational substantiate this forecast and perhaps more information could be made available to confirm or contradict this?

Personally, I can see much greater numerical opportunity with JetBlue continuing and expanding its code-sharing and co-operation with other dynamic airlines like Norwegian Air into continental Europe and especially Scandinavia.

I also see tremendous scope for JetBlue to grow their loyalty programme. For over 20 years I have been an American Airlines (AA) AAdvantage member and currently have around half a million unused miles, but it has become increasingly difficult to use those miles due to the cessation of the direct New York flight and short-lived Dallas service.

Combine this together with an almost conspiracy type deterrent, to use existing miles, at acceptable redemption levels required. While still having a credit card that ‘earns’ AAdvantage miles, I seldom use it anymore because of these reasons. Perhaps it is time for our banks and financial institutions to consider re-branding a new JetBlue Visa or MasterCard which would be available locally.

Just a thought!

One comment

  • Great insights and suggestion. I having been using ny AA miles to purchase subcriptions, rental cars etc. Anerican has made it quite difficult to use my skymiles. American also expected that their dominance and loyalty travelers would always fly American even with their high prices. But travelers are most cost conscious and savvy and welcomed Jet Blue’s prices and schedules with open arms. Kudos to Jet Blue. Anerican is a has been.


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