JetBlue joins fray for frequent fliers

Add JetBlue to the growing number of airlines offering frequent-flier plans. The discount carrier unveiled its "TrueBlue" loyalty program last week.

Unlike most airlines, which base awards on air miles traveled, JetBlue uses a point system in which travelers earn two points for a short one-way flight, four for a medium flight, and six for a long flight.

Points are doubled for members who book via the company's website (www.trueblue.com) before the end of the year. A free round trip to any of JetBlue's 19 destinations is awarded to fliers with 100 points.

A caveat: Points expire after 12 months. This tactic is also employed by Southwest Airlines. But most major carriers impose no expiration date, leading to a backlog of unclaimed awards.

Consumers now hold some 8 trillion unused flier miles, up 20 percent from the end of 2000, according to The Wall Street Journal. As a result, some carriers are now offering other options to get customers to use up their miles. Continental Airlines, for example, encourages its members to use miles to purchase other items, such as tickets to Major League Baseball games.

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