JetBlue

What to do about the travel industry’s timeout clauses

Isak/Shutterstock
Isak/Shutterstock
A casual observer might have thought that Anthony LaMesa was booking a last-minute JetBlue Airways ticket from New York to Cancun, Mexico, on a whim, perhaps to escape the frigid winter weather.

Appearances can be deceiving, though. LaMesa needed to fly to Mexico for emergency dental care. But when he found treatment closer to home, he discovered that he couldn’t change his ticket.

“When I booked this ticket, I thought I had the 24-hour cancellation window for a flight, which has been publicized all over the news,” he says. He didn’t. The 24-hour rule has an important, but often unarticulated, catch: It doesn’t apply to flights booked fewer than seven days in advance.
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Happy holidays? JetBlue slams grieving grandson with booking fee, walk-up fare

Micha Klootwijk / Shutterstock.com
Micha Klootwijk / Shutterstock.com
If an airline tells you it offers a more humane way to travel, should you hold it to that promise?

That’s the question raised by David Seltzer’s case on JetBlue Airways, a case that comes to us at an appropriate time of year.

Seltzer’s grandfather died unexpectedly a few months ago, and he immediately paid JetBlue a walk-up fare of $1,258 to fly from Long Beach, Calif., to New York, so he could be with his family. JetBlue then piled on the fees, charging him $20 for a phone booking and then hitting him with a $104 fare differential when he had to change his return flight again.

Seltzer then did what many distraught passengers do after the funeral. He politely asked the airline to adjust the price to a so-called “bereavement” fare. After all, Seltzer wasn’t just a random passenger requesting a fare adjustment, but a loyal, card-carrying JetBlue frequent flier, according to his mother, who contacted me for help.
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An inconvenient truth about loyalty programs

Solar/Shutterstock
Solar/Shutterstock

Is your loyalty for sale?

Would you remain true to a company, no matter what it does, in exchange for a platinum card or the promise of “free” or discounted product?

Target is hoping so after more than 40 million customer credit-card numbers were compromised on Black Friday. Its response? A 10 percent-off bribe offered to holiday shoppers last weekend.

Perhaps the retailer knows its customers too well. Give ’em a few bucks off — or better yet, something “free” — and they’ll overlook anything. (Never mind that almost nothing is free and that the definition of “free” we’ve come to accept is misleading, harmful and wrong.)
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Is JetBlue scaring passengers into buying travel insurance?

Christopher Parypa / Shutterstock.com
Christopher Parypa / Shutterstock.com

If you’re a frequent flier, maybe you’ve already been roughed up by an airline, rhetorically speaking. I try to stay away from planes myself. I fly very infrequently and I book airline tickets even less.

When I have a choice in domestic airlines, I prefer to fly on JetBlue or Southwest. They’re just my kind of carriers.

It’s a personal choice.

But this afternoon, as I was booking a seat from Orlando to Washington, and after getting through what seemed like a dozen irritating “upsell” screens, JetBlue showed me this:
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Oh no! JetBlue breaks guitars, too?

jetblueAdd the word “breaks guitars” after any company, and everyone knows exactly what you’re talking about.

“Breaks guitars” is synonymous with terrible service, bureaucracy and corporate arrogance. And you’d expect an airline to be particularly sensitive to it.

For those of you who missed the whole United Breaks Guitars episode, here’s a recap: Back in 2009, United Airlines destroyed country musician David Carroll’s checked guitar and then basically ignored his damage claim.
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When do JetBlue’s vouchers expire? Whenever it says they do

Christopher Parypa / Shutterstock.com
Christopher Parypa / Shutterstock.com

JetBlue is one of only a few airlines that issues flight vouchers when a fare drops after you book it, and if you use a service like Yapta, you can get notified when the price of your ticket falls.

But is the voucher worth anything? That’s what Jerry Gershner wants to know — and if I agree with his interpretation, he’d like me to help him fix it. I’m not sure if I do (or if I can) but maybe you can help me sort it out.

Here’s what happened to him: A few weeks ago, he booked JetBlue tickets for him and his wife.

“One day after I purchased these tickets, the fare dropped by $50,” he says.

He called JetBlue, which issued two $50 vouchers. So far, so good.
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