JetBlue rolls out incentives for Cuba routes

The check-in area of JetBlue Airways is seen at John F. Kennedy Airport in the Queens borough of New York January 14, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The check-in area of JetBlue Airways is seen at John F. Kennedy Airport in the Queens borough of New York January 14, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

It wasn’t long ago that U.S. airlines were falling over themselves in an attempt to lock in commercial routes to Cuba — and share the news with the public. Less than five months after its first flight from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara, Cuba though, JetBlue has started piling on TrueBlue loyalty program incentives to drum up more business on the routes.

The deal comes in the form of triple or 3X points for TrueBlue members flying from the U.S. to Camagüey, Havana, Holguin, or Santa Clara, Cuba starting on January 18th and through March 18th. Members need to register for the promotion at Jetblue.com prior to travel.

TrueBlue Points are typically earned as a function of spend on JetBlue; basic members earn 3 points for every dollar spent while more expensive fares earn up to 5 points per dollar. With the promotion launched today, a basic $300 fare from Miami to Havana will now earn 900 points instead of 300.

JetBlue’s promotion may be an indication of how soft the market for air travel between the U.S. and Cuba may actually be, especially cities that aren’t named Havana. Late in November, American Airlines trimmed back its plans for expansion through the country after a good portion of its flights were leaving with light volumes — in some cases, only a dozen passengers. And while that demand will eventually pick up as more Americans consider the destination and the Cuban economy improves, airlines may not have the patience to idly burn cash and fly empty aircraft.

To that end, more promotions like JetBlue’s 3X incentive may be in store for the industry this year. For travelers, this will be a great incentive to see the country while tourism in the region is still in its infancy. Until tourism and air traffic hits its peak though, the airlines may be at the wrong end of the deal. https://skift.com/