Stupid things

So, I've been occasionally using the JetBlue AmEx card as a way of extending my JetBlue awards. It seemed like a pretty sweet deal - whereas normally your points have a given shelf-life, every time you spend enough on your AmEx to get another point ($200), you automatically extend the life of your points by a full year. Given the amount of points that I accumulate on JetBlue, I thought this would be a good thing for me to use.

Lo and behold, the one time that I actually want to cash in my award flight, I find that it's gone. Hadn't I been using my card and extending the lifetime of my points like a good little boy? I called customer service and found out that JetBlue actually makes a distinction between points and awarded flights. The Amex Card extends the life of your points, but it will not extend the life of the awarded flights.

They referred me to their terms and conditions statement, where I found the following (apologies for the formatting):

4.1 A TrueBlue Award is issued automatically once a member has accumulated 100 points in the Program. The TrueBlue award is composed of 2 (two) TruePasses. Each TruePass is valid for 1 (one) one-way flight. Members will be notified of the award via e-mail and details can be found at the member's personal site at Notwithstanding the notification of awards via email, the member remains responsible for maintaining a current email, as JetBlue shall not be responsible for award notifications that are undeliverable.

4.2 TrueBlue Points may be redeemed for Award Travel by calling (800) JETBLUE or online at Award Travel is redeemable pursuant to the applicable redemption awards as posted on the JetBlue website or as otherwise issued by JetBlue. Once Award Travel is booked, it may only be changed before scheduled departure by calling (800) JetBlue and paying a $100 change fee. Award Travel may not be cancelled and TruePasses that are not flown will be forfeited and will not be re-deposited into your TrueBlue Account.

5.1 Except as may otherwise be provided for Holders of the JetBlue Card from American Express as set forth in paragraph 7.4, POINTS EXPIRE ONE YEAR AFTER THEY ARE EARNED AND TRUEBLUE AWARDS EXPIRE ONE YEAR AFTER THEY ARE ISSUED. Award Travel must be booked for travel available at or before the time of Award Travel expiration.

7.4 The expiration date of all TrueBlue Points in TrueBlue Membership Account's for Holders of the JetBlue Card from American Express will be extended to be 1 year from any date you have a TrueBlue point credited to your TrueBlue Membership Account from one of the following activities: (1) Using your JetBlue Card Account for an eligible purchase (as defined in your American Express Cardholder Agreement), or (2) flying a JetBlue flight segment that is paid for with your JetBlue Card Account. Eligibility and timing are basepon the date the TrueBlue point is credited to your TrueBlue Membership Account from one of the above qualifying activities.
Now, you can interpret this to say that the only thing that the Amex Card specifically extends is the expiration date on TrueBlue Points. Without any sort of legal consultation, I would be pretty hesitant to go to court about any of this. However, from a consumer perspective, I think there's ample room for confusion.

I think the biggest issue is that nowhere does it explicitly state that once your points are converted into awards, they are considered as being in an entirely different category, subject to different treatment. This is especially important, as no other airline that I know of even has such a distinction.

Moreover, the phrasing in the terms and conditions leaves a lot of ambiguity as to whether or not these things should be treated differently. For instance, section 4.2 would lead one to believe that you are in fact redeeming points for award travel, not a separate category of awards (e.g. the TrueBlue Award or TrueBlue Pass mentioned in section 4.1). Section 5.1, while at least citing Points and Awards separately, states that expiration treatment of both points and awards may be different for AmEx cardholders. At this point, any reasonable consumer would be hard pressed to see what the difference between these categories is and why one should be protected via AmEx usage and another should not. Given the lack of a strict definitional framework, the meaning of section 7.4 seems much more open to interpretation.

Anyway, I have clearly spent way too much time thinking about this. Let's just leave it at me being pissed at JetBlue.

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