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JetBlue says it will let family members, friends pool their frequent-flier points

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JetBlue will let family members and friends pool their frequent-flier points, a move aimed at attracting leisure travellers.

JetBlue Airways Corp. and frequent-flier experts said Thursday that no other U.S. airline lets customers share points.

But JetBlue's idea isn't novel. Several foreign carriers, including British Airways, offer similar plans. Even among airlines that don't have family accounts, "they all allow miles transfers among members, which in effect would create the same scenario at JetBlue," said Randy Petersen, the founder of InsideFlyer magazine. Other airlines usually charge members to transfer miles or points, however.

The JetBlue program will allow up to seven people to pool their points. It's open to domestic partners — so is the British Airways plan — and people who aren't relatives. Each pooling account needs at least one adult and can include up to five people younger than 21.

JetBlue marketing executive Dave Canty said the change will appeal to families, friends or groups of students who might not fly often enough individually to earn free trips.

Some experts were underwhelmed.

"JetBlue has a generally weak loyalty program," said Tim Winship, founder and editor of FrequentFlier.com. "The addition of a family-pooling feature makes it a bit more attractive, but only to a small segment of the travelling public."

JetBlue points used to expire after just 12 months, but it has changed that after criticism. Now they don't expire. Still, Winship said, the airline has very few partnerships with other airlines and other companies on which its customers can earn points and redeem flights.

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