Monday, February 26, 2007

Loretta's Story: BUR to JF

Loretta's Story

Hi Gen - nice to meet you!

I too felt the wrath of JetBlue this weekend (though not as badly as you)... I had a flight from Burbank to JFK on Friday.

To recap:
-Flight scheduled to leave at 10:55 am
-Delayed until 1:00 pm due to the inbound flight leaving JFK late
-The plane lands at BUR, and 5 min later we're told that they don't have any pilots to fly us to NY
-Scramble to find pilots
-Board plane at 2:30 pm, wait for the new pilots to finish paperwork, top off fuel (because the pilot tells us that those Airbus jets have a fuel capacity barely able to make it to NY -- I'd never heard that before! And I've flown JetBlue loads of times), push back from gate around 3:30 but by then we've lost our place in line and have to wait.
-Then the winds change and we have to dump 1000 lbs of fuel to take off in a tail wind instead of a head wind
-Finally take off at 4:20 pm
-2/3 of way through flight we're told we have to stop and refuel in Pittsburgh (aargh!)
-1:45 am land at JFK
-wait for 30 min for a gate to open up
-When we finally get to baggage claim, there is a sea of people and mounds of baggage - not only are there inbound flights/passengers to deal with, but there are hundreds of passengers who checked in baggage only to have their flights canceled are milling around (some for hours) trying to get their bags back.
-Finally got my bag at 3:30 am

The biggest issue, as I saw it, was a total communication breakdown. As the news reports have noted, JetBlue's system was completely overloaded. The staff at Burbank had no clue what was going on - the lack of pilots was a total shock to them - and there were so few staff actually at JFK that no passengers could get answers. A man with a bullhorn finally came out (because the baggage carousel board was completely inaccurate) to tell people which flights were coming out on which carousels.

The fact that the airline was still is such disarray by Friday was utterly ridiculous. Again, nothing that hasn't already been covered by the press or acknowledged by the airline, but after two days you think they'd at least have staffed up on the ground at their main hub to help stranded passengers, etc.

Also, the JetBlue automated system (online and via phone) was reporting that we'd actually landed at JFK (when we were still in Pittsburgh) so many family and friends were stuck waiting at JFK for hours to pick up passengers.

And I have a feeling that I won't be offered any compensation because I technically wasn't stuck on a plane on a runway for over 2 hours straight (or whatever the cut-off is)... it will suck if I have to fight for compensation when I arrived at my destination almost 7 hours late, and at such a God-awful time of night.

I have been a JetBlue booster since July of 2001 (and I personally love that they fly out of Long Beach and Burbank so I can avoid the chaos of LAX and use the rear boarding stairs!), but I have noticed a slip in service over the last year or two.

Their rapid expansion was obviously ill-planned and a major tax on their system. The "low fares" they bragged about for years, and continue to brag about, are almost non-existent at this point. I regularly find equal or cheaper fares on the other major airlines.

I do appreciate their amenities, like Direct TV and extra leg room (and am thrilled that they're rescuing the old TWA terminal at JFK from decay), but it's getting harder and harder to justify buying a JetBlue ticket.

Thanks for leading the charge, and the very best of luck with your meeting!!!! Feel free to contact me for any other support or questions.


PS - I just wanted to say that I looooove the Long Beach Airport. Anything to avoid the chaos of LAX is good by me. And there's rear boarding! Come on people!

Plus, I feel like Jackie O every time I walk down those outdoor jetway stairs. :-)

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