This article is about my status match experience from Delta Diamond Medallion Status to JetBlue’s Mosaic Level 4. Following Delta’s brazen move to dramatically raise their Medallion earning fees and reduce associated benefits, at least two airlines have stepped up to poach Delta Frequent Fliers.
One is fellow New York based east coast competitor JetBlue, competing head to head with Delta at New York JFK, Boston, and Los Angeles. The other is west coast based Alaska Airlines, competing directly with Delta in Seattle, and also with both carriers in Los Angeles.
For what it’s worth, prior to becoming a Delta frequent flier around 2019, I was previously an Alaska Airlines MVP Gold (as a result of them merging with Virgin America where I was also an elite), and prior to that I was a multi-year JetBlue Mosaic (far before levels were added).
My oh my, what a difference of a few weeks makes! Delta’s SkyMiles and Medallions changes caused so much news coverage, that TWO airlines stepped up to plate to offer alternatives. Delta has also since backtracked on some changes – I predict only temporarily.
Today I’m going to cover my experience of status matching to JetBlue; and next week, I’ll cover Alaska Airlines.
Oscape Take – Why I Want To Do This
Being based in New York City, JetBlue is an interesting and compelling alternative to Delta in some regards, but in other ways the airline is not as useful to me.
First I’ll cover the Pros, and next the Cons, for JetBlue as an airline I’ve followed and been a fan of since the early 2000s. Note that some of these apply to me personally, and others are general comments.
- The airline offers hubs at New York JFK and also a significant operation at Newark EWR. This is equivalent enough to Delta at New York LGA and New York JFK.
- The airline now flies transatlantic to London, Amsterdam, and Paris CDG – all airports where I can transfer onwards to other carriers for travel onwards to the Middle East or Asia.
- Where JetBlue excels is in its premium Mint offering, coast to coast – and this is also a product I am eager to try TransAtlantic to one of the three aforementioned cities.
- Many of Mosaic 4 offerings are directly on par with being a Delta Diamond elite. For example there’s free Checked Bags, Priority Security and Boarding, free Same Day changes, a priority phone line, and free Premium seats selectable at booking.
- There are far fewer flights on JetBlue than on Delta. Options for travel on the carrier are thus far limited outside certain markets – and sometimes there are only one or two flights via JetBlue, versus multi-hub operations via Delta. I often deliberately pick connecting flights on Delta, if it gives me a better shot of getting an upgrade.
- The airline is terrible at running an on-time operation – and my last times flying JetBlue consistently in 2018 also entailed double digit multi-hour delays for rather short flights.
- JetBlue does not come with any Lounge access – I usually use the Lounge to grab a quick coffee before a flight.
- This is purely my opinion – I think the current management team is short sighted and doesn’t know where JetBlue falls in the American airline marketplace. The airline has shown little vision beyond saying “we’re here!” even when it comes to massive opportunities such as the pending merger with Spirit. The Mint offering was legendary when it first came out, but has been downgraded in some important ways. The Airline hasn’t improved operations – I think it actually worsened – and is one of the reasons I switched away from the carrier in 2017.
- I’m interested in flying Mint across the Atlantic, as well as to the West Coast (which I just did!)
- Both are typically run on very different aircraft configurations – I’ve flown “Classic Mint” many times and have loved the experience. It’s a fantastic offering in North America.
- The BLADE Transfers and Mint upgrades on the table are pretty cool – there’s a certain James Bond factor appeal there.
Experience Applying for the Status Match
JetBlue has advised “this exclusive offer will only be available to the first 30,000 people or until 10/31/23, whichever comes first.” Status, if granted will remain active until the end of 2023, but can be extended thru one of two challenges.
If this is something you’re interested in and are a current Delta elite – here’s the link to apply.
In typical JetBlue fashion, the Status Match “Mosaic on the DL” has a double entendre pun, and has a kitschy tone “Feeling ‘Blue’ about the changes to a once-favorite loyalty program?” Yes, I definitely concur, JetBlue.
The website first advertises the benefits for Delta’s Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond Medallions. These benefits correspond to Mosaic levels 1 thru 4 – and the benefits also accumulate in order.
I learned that for my level, among many perks, I would receive 6 Mint upgrade certificates and 4 BLADE airport helicopter transfers in New York City.
I found the steps to be easy and straightforward – and completed the application process in about 10 minutes, sitting on a sofa in Bodrum, Turkiye.
First I was asked for my name and Medallion level on Delta.
Then I was asked to submit my TrueBlue number, full name and email as it appears on my TrueBlue account.
Two screenshots were requested:
- A screenshot of your SkyMiles profile showing proof of your Medallion status (including your full name, Medallion status, YTD qualification progress and SkyMiles number) to verify status.
- A screenshot or photo of your most recent Delta boarding pass or flight confirmation email showing your Medallion status.
Finally, I was asked to list exact and current number of MQDs, MQMs, and MQSs on current status:
- list your current number of Medallion Qualifying Segments.
- list your current number of Medallion Qualifying Dollars.
- list your current number of Medallion Qualifying Miles.
And… That’s it!
Getting Approved for the Status Match
I applied on September 26, and was approved on October 2nd, less than a week later. I was notified by email.
My newfound Mosaic perks include:
- 2 free checked bags
- Free beer, wine & liquor
- Dedicated support line and priority chat assistance
- Free same-day switches
- Mosaic boarding
- Free Even More® Space seats at booking
- 6 Move to Mint certificates that allow you to book in core and move to Mint at no extra charge—learn more about how these certificates work here
- Credits for 4 one-way BLADE Airport helicopter transfers between Manhattan & JFK or EWR
- Mint Suite® Priority, Pet Fee Waiver, FoundersCard Blue Membership
- 15,000-Point Bonus as the pre-selected perk from Mosaic Perks You Pick
For now I have Mosaic status thru 12/30/2023 – definitely enough time to sample the airline once again.
To keep status through 12/31/24, I just need to complete one of these two challenges:
- Have a JetBlue Plus Card or JetBlue Business Card by 12/30/23
- Earn and receive 30 tiles between today and 12/30/23
It looks like owning a JetBlue Business Card might be in the works for me once again – but that depends on how my experiences go using the airline!
First Thoughts Trying JetBlue Mosaic 4 Benefits
I had to take a trip for a wedding to California from New York this week on a Thursday in mid October – and, this time, I figured I would try out my new JetBlue Status Match benefits and see how they work.
Booking My JetBlue Flight
The Delta fare was $353 USD from New York JFK to Santa Ana SNA via Seattle SEA, and I booked this 8 weeks prior to the flight. My itinerary left at 7:25am on a B737-900ER, with a one hour transfer in Seattle, and a 2:10pm arrival in Orange County on an A220. I booked it this way to give myself the best chance of an upgrade on the longer Transcon. Arguably this was a better arrival airport for my destination; but I’d lose a whole day in the air.
The JetBlue fare was $404, direct from New York JFK to Los Angeles LAX, booked a week prior to the flight. I originally booked a 5:24am departure out of New York JFK with a 8:20am arrival in Los Angeles, but switched to a 12:00pm departure and 3:00pm arrival. I’d still have the morning to work some meetings and calls – which I did.
My Delta and JetBlue upgrades, and a Call to the JetBlue Mosaic Line
I got upgraded on both my Delta flight from New York to Seattle, and also my JetBlue flight into Mint. Both upgrades occurred at different times – Delta’s about 72 hours prior, and the JetBlue upgrade cleared 48 hours prior to the flight.
Once I cleared into Mosaic, I called JetBlue via the Mosaic line at 12:51pm prior to a meeting at 1pm on Tuesday – I got a Live Agent within one minute. I asked her to find me a Suite on any flight that morning – she checked each flight one by one and advised there was availability on the 12pm flight. Changes were all made within 4 minutes, no joke. By the way, this is much faster than my Delta experiences – even with Diamond, I’ve previously waited up to 30 minutes to reach an agent. Delta used to be ultra fast prior to 2020, and it been slow to connect since 2022.
Checking online I saw a suite in 2F available on the 7:00am flight at 10am. I was foolish and waited – if I hadn’t, I would have nabbed a classic Mint “Throne Seat” suite on the 7:00am flight out of JFK.
Instead, the agent assigned me to “Suite 3F” which confused me at first, because I’m not familiar with Row 3 being a Suite. It turns out this was the new Mint herringbone Suite, usually used on TransAtlantic routes, in the new JetBlue A321neo.
This flight was also completely sold out in Mint. Meanwhile, my Delta New York JFK to Seattle flight still had lots of seats available in First Class even at 1:00am the morning of departure.
I’ll actually be trying Delta’s A321neo on my return transcon, so this will be a cool comparison!
The BLADE Transfer Experience
As I write this, I’ve just tried BLADE. It was cool – the experience felt very luxury-elite – and it was very fast and (with use of my pass) cost even less than a subway+AirTrain combo. I also met a frequent BLADE flier on my ride who happened to also be a Delta Diamond. We traded some good notes on the Medallion changes, which I’ll share at the end of the article.
I don’t think I’m a “frequent helicopter user”, knowing the risks associated with this type of transport. As a photographer my baggage often exceeds their weight limit – it did this time as well, but luckily the fee was waived as a first-time flier. This benefit has limited use.
The JetBlue Mint Upgrade Experience
I also tried JetBlue’s Mint on an A321neo from New York JFK to Los Angeles LAX, in the new herringbone suite.
I flew at 12:00pm and arrived in Los Angeles at 2:15pm.
Was it nice? Very – and I am sure I’ll be flying them again this year and next, based on upgrade availability.
Was it nicer than Delta? Not 100% – there were some parts nicer for sure like the hard product, but overall Delta still holds the edge in service and warmth – to Delta’s benefit and JetBlue’s chagrin.
JetBlue definitely holds a “Delta killer” in its hard product – the IFE and headphones, and Wi-Fi, were far superior. The seat was better than I expected in all the right ways. It doesn’t seem the carrier is fully taking advantage of this with their soft offering. Some parts like cleaning and what I’ll call “polished service” left much desired.
The experience also made me consider how often I’d use the JetBlue status match benefits, unless I’m flying to one of the core major cities (now including Europe) where JetBlue flies regularly with Mint.
It seems logical to use JetBlue for its benefits when possible, while paying full fare – and that means I will be flying them more this year and next instead of Delta, after a nearly five year hiatus. This probably means I’ll still be a free agent next year, rather than staying loyal to Delta.
Did the Status Match Work?
In the competitive landscape of an airline, one has to wonder “did the incentive work?”
In my case, so far I’d say it did. My motives are perhaps more selfish as someone who runs a travel website, where I want to broaden my coverage of carriers across the board. That said, I did just, within a week, switch travel from Delta to JetBlue for a trip from New York to California, as a result of my Status Match. I haven’t flown JetBlue in years.
Now without ragging too much on Delta – as I’ve been very loyal to the airline for the past five years, no joke – they’ve simultaneously gotten pretty greedy.
My conversation with my fellow Blade passenger, which happened on our final transfer ride from the JFK helicopter terminal to T4 and T5, was most insightful.
We discussed Delta, the Medallion changes and Status Match. We are both Delta Diamonds – at very different income levels and spending goals. In my case I don’t deem value in spending $35k (now $28k temporarily) to maintain my status, but in his case as a very high income person who spends over $250,000 annually on an Amex card, he welcomed Delta’s changes and thought the upgrade list on his flight was too long. I learned there were a whopping 77 people on his flight upgrade list, and he was #1 and cleared. He noted Delta is non union, and they thus have a better culture. He had not flown Mint, but heard good things.
We were both flying New York JFK to Los Angeles LAX. Delta operates a similarly timed 11:55am flight with their A330-900neo, which I also love. JetBlue operates their 12:00pm flight with the new A321neo Mint herringbone configuration on the same route.
As far as I can tell, with its Medallion changes, Delta’s very naked goal is pushing out “upper middle class” and “lower high income” and keeping “ultra high income” status fliers in play. Even from that perspective, I can’t understand loyalty value sticking to purely Delta, rather than buying full fare First Class for any good airline, ticket and seat.
In my case, I opted to cancel the Delta flight and keep the JetBlue flight – and try Mint and BLADE in the process! For one the schedule was more convenient as I could work a full morning in NYC – but, the experience is comparatively better in Mint than on Delta’s B737-900ER (and then I’d transfer in Seattle to an Orange County bound flight). The fare I paid was only $50 more for JetBlue, although I would land at Los Angeles LAX instead of Orange County John Wayne SNA.
This experience confirmed I will be diverting some travel funds away from Delta and to JetBlue – but at the same time, my use case for JetBlue’s benefits is still limited due to the nature of the airline.
So, did JetBlue’s strategy work for the status match? It’s definitely expensive for the carrier, but yes, I’m interested in seeing what you’ve got, JetBlue!