Monday, February 26, 2007

Barbara's Letter to JetBlue

Dear Genevieve,

I also was there on that horrific day. I want to show you the letter that I sent to JetBlue after trying to recover from one of the worst situations that I have ever been through. To say that it was beyond surreal is an understatement. I was in seat 5F and saw and heard so much that was going on in the front of the Aircraft that I am frightened that there are more pilots out there as incompetent as the gentleman that was in charge of our safety.

To: Custom Service Jet Blue Airlines
Date: February 16, 2007

I was one of your passengers on board flight 351 leaving JFK on February 14, 2007. I was held hostage along with many other people on the tarmac for 11 hours. Not only do I find this treatment inhumane but, your company as well as the pilot on this doomed flight incompetent and with a total lack of respect and common decency for the people on board that flight. I want to file a formal complaint to document what transpired on aboard flight 351 and then later that evening on flight 359. Your company should not be able to continue to service people after such horrific situations that were never handled ethnically or legally! We boarded at 6:15 am on the 14th of February. We left the gate at 6:50a.m. We were told that we would taxi to a different location to have the plane de-iced. Needless to say, de-icing didn’t take place until approximately 3:00 p.m. The pilot from the very beginning was not being honest with us and I will illustrate examples of his unethical and unprofessional behavior(s). Food was never offered except the snacks that you have on your flights (first snack was offered 3 hours after we departed the gate never again was this offered to us until the eighth hour), and water. We sat trapped in the plane and could not get out. The pilot kept telling us that we were going to go back to the terminal, that we were the next in line.....that was a lie! He said that we would be getting the de-icing process and that we would be able to fly out that day....again a lie! He said that we were going to the terminal to dump the tanks of waste and then take off...again a lie! We sat on that tarmac and were totally forgotten about, while planes on both sides of us kept coming and going either to a gate or to the terminal while we continued to sit there, trapped on this plane. And to really make matters worse, every time he got up to give us information, the captain of this flight was continually condescending and dishonest in dealing with many scared, hungry, and distressed passengers. The entire 11 hours that we were on the tarmac in the area where we were to be de-iced, the cockpit door was open, which I consulted legal counsel and was told this action and behavior of a captain is against FAA regulations. The captain had people including men, women, and children sitting in his seat, showing them the various instruments in the cockpit. This was a totally unsafe and potentially out of control situation that got even more bizarre as the horrific day of events unfolded. I felt completely unsafe and vulnerable to a potential terrorist situation. In the 8th hour of a hostage type situation I was experiencing, the air shut down and it began to become very warm in the plane (trapped in a small unit-space where air is not recyclable) so the captain informed us that his flight crew was going to open the back door to let fresh air into the cabin. The captain then shut the entire plane down and jump-started the plane, all the while telling us that we were next in line for a gate...again, and an additional lie! Planes were coming and going on both sides of us while WE SAT THERE without food, beverages, and in the safety of a professional in charge of an unfortunate situation! In the 10th hour, the tanks for the toilets were at capacity. The captain approached us from the OPEN Cockpit and (I quote), “If you have to do a Number 2 in the bathroom, you cannot for the tanks are full and will over flow." Also in that 10th hour the captain cited FAA regulations that this crew on flight 351 would exceed the legal limit flight time and that Jet blue was locating another crew to take over this flight. We sat there long enough for this captain and his crew to not make the trip. He then informed us that the flight had been officially canceled. At this time, I contacted a friend to get me on another flight as well as I contacted your 800 customer-service number. My friend couldn’t reserve my seat and I was rudely attended to and instructed to wait until we returned to the terminal for assistance. After 11 hours trapped and held hostage by your company, buses finally came to take us back to the terminal. We were told that they had no idea how long it would be before the baggage would relocate back to the terminal. At 5pm after boarding at 6:15 AM I finally was allowed off the plane. When I got to the terminal, there was no one to talk to. No direction, NOTHING! I found my way to a supervisor and was able to get on standby for the 6:15p.m. flight 359. It was 5:30 p.m. of which I was experiencing tremendous distress, exhaustion, hunger, and physical anxiety. As I started to pre-board I had to go through security (for a second time) and then had to literally race to get to gate number three to try to get on flight 359. I asked the gentleman at the gate if the plane was definitely going to take off, I was insured that it would and that this flight (359) was slightly behind the regular scheduled take-off. So I got on the flight this was after approximately 12 hours of being placed in an unsafe and unhealthy environment.

My biggest mistake in entrusting my health, safety, and overall well-being with Jet-Blue was with the severely incompetent and rude employees (specifically the captain of flight 351 and phone attendants) and was then placed on the 2nd plane (flight 359) and sat at yet another gate for 30 minutes until the door closed and we (again like flight 351) backed up approximately 15 to 20 feet and did not move for another two hours. I rang the customer bell immediately and told the steward that I wanted to get off the plane, that I had already sat 11 hours on flight 351. This Jet blue employee made a general announcement to see if anyone else wanted off flight 359 and I was instructed by the pilot that I was the only one with this request and I was refused this need. Once again I am trapped on a plane that is not moving. This again is after 13.5 hours of sitting on planes (fl 351 and 359) and now am on flight 359 for an additional 3 hours and I knew that it would be much longer until we took off or went back to the gate. Needless to say, I was trapped on the second plane for 7 hours on the ground before we were able to take off with twenty to forty mile an hour gusts (as displayed on Jetblue TV screens). It took 5.5 hours to get to Burbank so I had been on two different planes a total of 23.5 hours without food. During this duration I was refused food (except 3 snack items consisting of blue chips and animal crackers). Women with infants, toddlers, and the elderly people were under such distress that it created even greater fear for those of us during this day of horrific events.

I was never during any of this nearly 24 hour time-span asked if I needed food or a beverage, honored in my need to get off the 2ND plane, and offered any form of monetary compensation for this incompetently disorganized and unprofessionally handled day of events. In my opinion when dealing with the public, you should have never let passengers board flights that you know will never take off and then forget about them out on the tarmac for 11 hours. Secondly, a captain’s role on any flight is to ensure the safety of all passengers and crew and to alert individuals of the days events honestly and professionally. Jetblue departed on several flights on this day fully cognizant that many to most of these flights would never depart placing passengers and crew at risk of distress and safety. People are more important than money and Jetblue fully knew that the conditions of the weather on this day would not allow flights to take-off. You held people hostage on a flight that you knew wasn't going to depart and this captain and crew (flight 351) continued to lead us to believe we were going to depart. I am beyond upset by this. I am so traumatized by this that I am still physically sick and in bed and I do not want to get back on a plane on the evening of the 18th to go back home to NY. I also have attempted to meet with customer service in Burbank, contacted you by phone and was either ignored or misdirected for assistance.

I am requesting a full-refund of this flight and that you redirect me to a different or neighboring airline to return to NY on February 18, 2007.

Please contact me at xxx-xxx-xxxx at your earliest receipt of request.

Thank you, Barbara

So far the only thing that has happened from JetBlue was on auto response that I should be hearing from them in March. I have written to every radio, TV, newspaper that I could think of. Channel 12 on Long Island were the only people who seemed to care. Not only were we treated inhumanely but, we were in the hands of someone who scared me to death. It is now a week after the siege and I still am very shaky from the whole event.

I am happy to say that I am home in NY and do not plan to fly anywhere in the near future. This is a problem for me since my job occasionally has me fly to different locations to open new stores.

I am planning on talking to someone at channel 12 News on Monday. I feel as if we were a forgotten flight out there on the tarmac at JFK. It was a total breakdown from top to bottom.......I can't let it go until I get some answers and some restitution. This is not a familiar state for me, I am genuinely a forgiving soul and tend to let things go in order to move on. Not this time, I was extremely effected by this and still have some lingering effects from that fateful day and into the evening. And still have a fierce cold from the plane.

I am a 47 year old professional woman who found herself being turned into a small child that was very frightened. I just do not know what to do with all of this at the moment.

Thank you for opening this site. It seems to be helping people deal and heal.


1 comment:

jo said...

Dear Barbara,
I am truly sorry for your experience. Please give another airline a chance - USAirways. Maybe they're not the best with luggage; but I can assure you, this pilot group is the best, the oldest, and the most experienced; and after flying with them for years I can tell you that not one of the pilots at USAirways would have let any of their passengers suffer in such a way. Even if the company dispatcher for the flight would have instructed the pilot to sit on the tarmac for God knows how long, the pilot would have assumed command and gotten the passengers off of the plane. I know there was a Northwest Airlines flight that was stranded on the tarmac in Detroit, I think, where the captain just opened up the aircraft's airstairs and the people got off and physically walked throught the snow on the tarmac back to the terminal. So you see, there are solutions. Jetblue has an airline culture that is somewhat akin to being a Kool-aid drinker. They are like automatons. "company people". The company will always come first, before any passenger. Please give USAirways a try, you won't be dissappointed.