JetBlue Airbus A320 tailfins. Credit: JetBlue

If you receive my daily travel tip newsletter (you can sign up for free here), then you know I’ve been ragging on a few airlines for the way they mishandled their operations this past weekend. Specifically JetBlue, since my sister has been in the middle of the debacle since Friday and still hasn’t been able to get home so I have firsthand knowledge of that experience.

First, JetBlue sent her an update stating that her nonstop flight from West Palm Beach, FL (PBI) to Westchester, NY (HPN) was going to be 19 hours in duration (they did it again today, saying flight time was 24 hours). Then they delayed her flight by two hours, moved it up by an hour, delayed it again and then canceled it.

My sister said there were hundreds, if not thousands, of people in line with only three agents working at PBI. No one had answers and it took over three hours to get her checked bag back and another three plus hours to get a hold of a representative on the phone to change the flight the system had automatically rebooked her on for two days after to a different airport. That flight then canceled, too.

I understand that thanks to the pandemic, the airlines cut capacity and flights are full so if one flight gets canceled, it can throw a massive wrench into operations. But come on. At least offer a call back like American Airlines does so you don’t have to sit on hold for hours or have an app like United, where you can make an edit to the rebooked flight or speak to an agent via chat. But most of all, hire more agents at the airport and call centers to speed things up. It’s ridiculous.

To add insult to injury, yesterday, JetBlue announced they’re expanding their international flights to London and they made international headlines when it was leaked that they had just put in a bid to buy Spirit Airlines throwing a wrench in Spirit’s merger with Frontier. If you’re going to spend $3.6 billion, how about investing in your own operations first before expanding?

I think JetBlue customers would be excited about the news if it wasn’t for the mishandling of their operations. JetBlue has always been a fan favorite but when you strand customers for days and refuse to reimburse them for hotels or transportation and then make a $3.6 billion offer, it stings.

Also in the news: JetBlue’s CEO took the train from New York to Boston when the news leaked. Which begs the question: Why would the CEO of an airline that operates a flight between New York and Boston take the train instead? That says a lot about how reliable JetBlue has been lately.

RELATED: How To Reach an Airline’s Reservations Agent Without Waiting

 

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45 Comments On "What is JetBlue Thinking? After Stranding Passengers and Not Paying for Hotels They Place a $3.6 Billion Bid to Buy Spirit"
  1. Marty h.|

    Jet Blue has pie in the sky delusions of precovid Kachina! Kachink! Kachina! With its coffers overflowing with $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$!

  2. Marty h.|

    Jet Blue lives a a precovid world of delusional $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ of their coffers overflowing with more filthy riches than they can imagine!

  3. Marty h.|

    Jet Blue is living in a greedy precovid world of filthy riches galore!

  4. Susie|

    I’m surprised that your sister who has a brother with so much knowledge, insight and connections would be stuck. Let alone travel Jet Blue.

  5. Keiser|

    Hundreds, if not thousands of people in line to talk to agents? Ok, first off Jetblue doesn’t even operate enough flights out of Palm Beach to accommodate thousands of people. Even if every single Jetblue flight out of Palm Beach was canceled. Secondly, the decision to purchase Spirit is a business decision not an operational decision. The people who make business decisions are not the same who run the operation. I do agree that there are some major improvements needed to help the airline run smoother when things go badly. I wonder if this rant would have ever been published if your sister wasn’t involved.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      JetBlue flies dozens of flights out of PBI https://www.pbia.org/airservice/departing/

  6. JL|

    Like the author’s sister, I was another customer negatively affected by JetBlue this weekend. Thousands of passengers were indeed stranded. It was impossible to reach any customer assistance . Their app and the website were not functioning properly. Airports were understaffed (PBI and HPN) with under-trained staff and seemingly no leadership. Communication from JetBlue about flight times was inaccurate and seemingly misleading and sometimes had the appearance of being intentionally misleading. I was one of hundreds who spent ~12 hours in the airport only to be sent home. It is nuts that JetBlue wishes to purchase another airline when it can’t even function on its own.

  7. Dawn Hughes|

    I had my jet blue flight canceled at about 1130 pm for a 920 am flight. My trip was April 4 to the 7th. They wanted to change me to April 6th for my flight. When I declined ( why would I go the 6th and come home the 7th ) because I was declining they said I wouldn’t get a refund. So after talking with I don’t know how many from jet blue they say I’ll get a refund . But I’m still trying to get a refund for my hotel and return trip. I wasn’t there for my hotel and since I didn’t cancel my reservation 2 days before checking in they say I won’t get a refund. So because of jet blue I lost my whole trip I saved for . I understand flight cancellations but we the customers should be reimbursed for hotel and return flights

  8. JRS|

    Oooh, my sister got stuck in a ground stop that shut down the Northeast on Friday, and an all state ground stop at Jax Center that shut down all air travel into and out of Florida on Saturday, so I’ll use my “influence” to complain for her!

    THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN LINE AT PBI!!!

    Laughable. I flew into PBI on Friday, laid over, and flew out Saturday and there were not hundreds or thousands of people in line. At any counter.

    Johnny Jet proving once again why he’s a joke. What’s the matter Johnny, bitter they didn’t give you a free Mint Suite to London?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Sounds like you work for JetBlue. Just sticking up for the little people and calling it the way it is like I always do. I hope your airline doesn’t continue to go downhill because it was always one of my favorites.

  9. JRS|

    Also Johnny, the CEO lives in CT. Why drive to LGA, when you can go a half mile and get on Amtrak?

    So desperate…

    1. Johnny Jet|

      I’m sure he works in NYC so it’s not a good look to take the train instead of your own airline. Seems like he knows which one is more reliable and that’s embarrassing.

  10. Marlin Yoder|

    So why don’t you criticize Spirit for wanting to merge with Frontier after the troubles they in August of 2021? Isn’t sort of the same? Or is ok if 7 months are in between the problems and the merger announcement?
    Doesn’t really matter to me if they merge, just wondering why it’s bad for JetBlue. I would guess it’s a while different operational thing, and we’ll in the planning before this happened.

  11. Chris|

    Seems like people don’t understand the causes regarding cancelations and delays. Flight Attendants, captains, and first officers have a little something called a union, and on top of that there’s another little administration called Federal Aviation Administration. And companies like JetBlue, spirit, Frontier, United, delta and just about every airline you can imagine have to operate withing the rules and regulations of the FAA and the contracts between the crew members union and the companies. With this being said there’s also something unfortunately uncontrollable that’s called weather and as I’m sure people reading this can understand the dangers of flying an aircraft through hazardous conditions. The reroute of a Flight to avoid bad weather can lead to delays, with those delays things snowball, and as a result it happens ALL the time that crew members reach flight and duty limitations set forth by the unions and the faa, and legally there has to be specific crewmembers on the aircraft in order for that aircraft to be able to move. If there are no crew members available there are literally no other options than to cancel. This is completely outside of the control of the companies.

    As for the lack of customer service, yes they need to hire more people, possibly, however that does not solve the issue, getting on a call with a customer service will get you as far as operational legalities will allow.

    I guess you can write a letter to the unions that represent these crew members with your complaints, and also one to the FAA, maybe then they can keep crew members working more! But before you do consider the safety implications of having crew members without enough rest. Before these regulations were in place you were more than Likley to be on an aircraft with crew members that were unbelievably exhausted and unable to perform their duties in case of emergencies. This led to more than one crash that left hundreds dead due to pilot fatigue.

    I know it’s easy to point fingers but do some further research as to the root cause of the issue and evaluate the consequences of getting things done.

    No I do not work for JetBlue and no I do not have any connection to them, I’m just a person who reads and understands issues before complaining.

    And remember, saftey first, better have your sister home late than to recieve her in bits and pieces. Cheers

  12. Ellen Hill|

    Will not ever travel on Jet Blue again! Outbound flight 4/1, Nashville to Boston was an hour late. Scheduled to depart on 4/4 on return to Nashville. We received a text at 11:15pm, 4/3 prior to our next 9:00am flight the next day. Immediately called Jet Blue at 11:30pm, to check other flights, placed on hold until 6:30am, the following morning when we were conveniently disconnected. As we were staying at the Intercontinental Hotel in Boston, with rates starting at $338/night, celebrating our 49th anniversary, we were placed in a stranded situation which forced us to pay for another night’s stay until we could problem solve. Called Jet Blue again, placed on hold for over 4 hours. While on hold, we received an automated new flight schedule for departing 2 days later 4/6, flying from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale, a 5 hr. layover in order to return to Nashville. As Hotel, parking and meals were adding up, we contacted Delta airlines and booked one way tickets back. What started out as a nice anniversary getaway, ended in disaster! We are seniors and we saved to take this trip. This was just wrong! And to learn that they were trying to buy another airline…and, no mention of any reimbursements? Just wrong!

  13. Ellen Hill|

    I also want to add, in addition to weather the news also cited technology and spring break. There were other things going on as well! There customer service is lacking.

  14. Anonymous|

    I just quit from working in jetblue reservations , they do not care about their customers or employees , employees are force to work with no days off ofcourse you will have an awful customer service when your employee is working against his will , secondly they don’t give a crap about people they will offer you 25dls credit and they will no pay for anything even if it’s the airlines fault that your flight was cancel ,PEOPLE DO NOT USE JETBLUE !!!

  15. Andrea Gurvitz|

    I was stuck that weekend 36 hrs on Jet Blue trying to fly fr Charleston to west Palm 7:30 am flight cancelled for lack of crew, waited for 4 hrs and rerouted to Boston Logan waited another 32 hrs overnight for an ultimately cancelled flight to Ft Laud. No pilots avail it since they had incurred their 10 hrs.now all food places closed. I asked desk people for water and the idea spurred them to search out water bottles and snacks for us. Many families with babies and tots and seniors waiting.I asked for a supervisor and none available. It was a perfect storm of storms in Fl. , diminished crews and pilots and reservationists, and planes. Ultimately departed at the 36th hour in a JETS corporate jet either borrowed or bought plane (yes, still with green “Jets” logo exterior). Go Jets!

  16. Carole|

    What a nightmare! Still out Uber, cancelled hotel and food. Hundreds of dollars I wouldn’t have spent but, did and went nowhere! And the time I wanted!

    April 3, 2022
    2:30 PM Outgoing Call
    3 hours 31 minutes
    2:25 PM Outgoing Call – disconnected
    1 minute
    2:24 PM Outgoing Call – disconnected
    1 minute
    2:22 PM Outgoing Call – disconnected

  17. CAROLE|

    My comment should have read the time I wasted.

  18. Carole|

    Should read AND THE TIME I WASTED!

  19. Matt|

    LOL, if your sister flew anyone except for United last week, she would have been canceled or at least delayed substantially. Stop crying about it, and this Spirit move is about survival and expansion. They will double their fleet and have move coverage in PBI so we don’t have to hear about how long your sister is on her phone with customer service!

  20. Kip Gienau|

    My wife and I were delayed 5 days in guayquil ecuador. We arrived at airport 3 hours early on Friday 4/1 kept getting emails flight was delayed after 2 1/2 hours flight was canceled due to no crew to fly from NY.
    We got vouchers for a room and 3 meals told to return Saturday at midnight, returned and waited kept getting the same flight delayed notices. Now the terminal is filling up with new plus 2 days of passengers were delayed.
    Again canceled my flight and told no more flights for 3 days putting g us at a Tuesday departure. This time with hundreds in line jet blue refused to issue any volumes and people almost rooted.
    Finally Tuesday might night we checked in had to get a new covid test to enter the USA. Then we get to i.migration and were told because we were 2 days over our 99 day visa that the Fine was $224 each and we couldn’t return to exuador for a year. Now we showed them all our flight vouchers that clearly showed that jet blue caused our problem and this was not fair.
    We just agreed to pay the fi e adding that to all our extra bls for hotel food etc, then to add insult to injury jet blue sends an email issuing a $50 credit towards my next ticket yeah fat chance.
    Piss poor customer service and you want to spend millions to buy another airline and you can treat those customers like crap also, glad to be back in CT.
    Kip

  21. Kip gienau|

    Sorry auto fill my previous message No vouchers issued and 90 day visa was 2 days over then fined.
    Kip

  22. Wendy|

    I’m sorry, Johnny… Every single airline in this industry has its had issues in the last week. We have ALL stranded people everywhere and been in IROP for days. We’ve all left pilots, FA’s, and customers without flights and hotels. Because of spring break there were none to be had. If you fly to 20 countries a year, how do you not know high season yet? How do you not know when the other airlines have had issues too? Maybe you should research a bit more, instead of complaining as if you fly once or twice a year and stop bragging about how much you fly.

  23. Lala|

    Pbi as of right now 5 canceled flights 5 delayed flights. Depending on the aircraft 200 seater ..approx 1500 /1800 displaced customers.
    Btw nothing to do with FAA. More like not enough staff.

  24. ArubaSavannah|

    Sounds like a whiny “influencer” thinks his sister’s flight should have been special and not one of the 10,000 flights the industry (and that means Delta, AA, WN, NK, etc Johnny) cancelled over the weekend.

  25. JRS|

    Lala, im sure the line of storms going across central florida, the 65 minute GDP in South Florida, the 2 hour GDP in Orlando, the 90 minute GDP in EWR, the 2 hour 12 minute GDP in LGA, and the 60 minute GDP in JFK (all put in place by the FAA due to weather) have NOTHING to do with it.

    Johnny will get over it when JetBlue gives him another freebie. I know my airline has done it in the past. It’s the way he makes money.

  26. Rob|

    He lives in Connecticut near HPN, and took the train since he could go home. Which makes sense since no airlines fly from HPN-BOS. Are you really trying to draw a connection? Stop pulling at straws.

  27. Rob|

    Yup. And Spirit and southwest were affected even worse than jetblue during this, also didn’t offer hotels or compensation because it was weather. But he’s not writing about them.

  28. Rob|

    Today, April 7th there was a ground management program for the JAX center for ALL flights on ALL airlines entering florida with an average delay or 2 hours. When I got to MCO tonight around 5pm, over 90% of the flights were delayed or cancelled on ALL AIRLINES. Do your research people.

  29. Joe|

    It’s not a jets corporate jet, it’s a special livery aircraft. Do people just like to make crap up?

  30. Mark|

    Johnny, come on. You’re being RIDICULOUS! If you lived 5 minutes away from a train station and were planning to do an event in Boston for the day, why would you travel an hour to the airport for a flight? Of course you’d take the train. You’re grasping at straws here and really trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. If I owned an airline and lived close to Amtrak and needed to be in Boston – you know my ass would be on Amtrak. And YOU would be too. Get off your high horse.

  31. Diva|

    Andrea: The JETS plane is NOT a corporate jet. JetBlue is the official sponsor of the Jets, so they have a plane with the livery. They also have planes with Boston Red Sox, N.E. Patriots, Boston Bruins, and Brooklyn Nets (they are the official airline sponsors of all those teams).

  32. Diva|

    Kip: JetBlue does not operate flights to Guayquil every day, which is why there were gaps between the next available flights. When the rebook customers on flights, they book you on the next flight that has open seats. MOST of JetBlues flights are full right now due to Spring Break, so the next flight with open seats could be days away.

  33. Diva|

    Lala: When you say it has nothing to do with the FAA, you are WRONG!!! EVERYTHING airlines do is dictated by the FAA. The FAA is the one that issues GDPs (ground delay programs) due to weather. The FAA is the one that dictates the maximum duty hours Pilots and Flight Attedants can work. The FAA also dictates the minimum rest Flight Attedants and Pilots must have between duty periods. Bad weather wrecks havoc at ALL airlines. Crews (FAs and Pilots) get stuck out of position, Crewmembers that commute to base can’t get there because of full or canceled flights, the list goes on. Bad weather causes delays, which then causes Crews to not be legal to work flights due to duty day limitations, which then leads to all the reserve Crews to be used up.

  34. Maxine|

    My best advice for anyone traveling on ANY airline during Spring Break and Summer, ESPECIALLY in and out of Florida, is to be prepared for the worst. Everybody knows that Florida is home of daily severe storms once Spring and Summer hit. It’s always been that way. Don’t act surprised!!! Also you may want to read your Contract of Carriage. Airlines are not required to provide you with hotels or food vouchers when delays and cancelations are due to circumstances out of their control (i.e. WEATHER).

  35. Marie|

    This is why it’s so important to purchase travel insurance which would have paid for hotels, meals, alternate flights, and any monies for hotels etc that were not refunded. It’s inexpensive and worth it just to avoid the aggravation.

  36. Kat Donovan|

    Seriously the Amtrak comments are too much. You are a corporate CEO of a major airline. You don’t think Jetblue provides a corporate plane? Sorry but a flight from Logan to HPN is about 30 min if that. To say of course he took the train is laughable. Maybe the only thing worse than flying Jetblue now is the Amtrak from Boston to NY. That northeast line has constant problems! Had a family member get stuck in FLL this weekend. Cancelled flight 45 min before planned departure, was put on another flight 4 days later to another airport! Lines at FLL were ridiculous, kept getting disconnected on the phone so they drove home to CT from FL. It is absolutely ridiculous if you think that’s normal. Jetblue needs to shore up their domestic operations before expanding to Europe and its looking like the merger with Spirit just means they deserve each other. Way to ruin a brand.

  37. Peter|

    Johnny,
    I had a similar experience when my return flight from PR was canceled and was forced to wait on hold for four hours before finally being able to book a return flight a week later.
    Cancellations happen, but awful customer service isn’t an act of God; it’s a choice.

    A quick check of the complaints sites points to a massive increase in the number of complaints against JB in the last year or so, and many of them seem especially critical of the customer service. It’s strange to see this at an airlines that was founded on providing great customer service. Could you look into whether what I’m noticing is real, and if so, what the specific cause was? Other airlines are, as you point out, nowhere near this bad.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Thanks for sharing. That’s exactly my point.

  38. ChrisJ|

    I strongly agrees with the other chris observation .It is not as simple as fly from point A to point B.
    It is easier to point fingers.
    By the way I don’t work for JetBlue

  39. Jose|

    JetBlue is always being a ghetto airline and they flight attendant are no professional

  40. Patrick B|

    I’ve only flown once on JetBlue and not by choice. It was a connecting flight from an overseas flight. The service was horrible and the flight was drab. Would never dream of booking JetBlue for my airline needs.
    I’ve heard the horror stories about Spirit airlines and have no intentions to fly with them. Perhaps it would be good if JetBlue bought them. Then there would be one less airline on my don’t fly with them list.

  41. Michael|

    JetBlue has always been an operational nightmare. Disorganized and poorly managed. From a customer service perspective, they had it together but how can you provide customer service when you can’t even deliver the service your customers paid you to provide.

    Their pursuit of Spirit is another demonstration of how their management is a bit inept with strategy. It has investors perplexed and makes no strategic sense. They’d be better off with organic growth and forging their partnership with AA. There’s no way the NEA will move forward if there’s an acquisition.

    Agree with comments relating to getting their operations act together before they expand. Expanding their current, inefficient operations will only create a larger operational train wreck.

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