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 /
Christopher Parypa /

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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Does JetBlue owe her anything for amorous passenger incident?

Sunshine Pics/Shutterstock
Sunshine Pics/Shutterstock
To say that Cristi Mitchell felt uncomfortable on a recent JetBlue Airways flight from Phoenix to Boston might be something of an understatement.

During the redeye flight, an amorous couple seated across from her partner and her 8-year-old son engaged in several sex acts. No need to go into details, but let’s just say they covered every angle.

“I was shocked and really uncomfortable,” she said. When she mentioned the behavior to a flight attendant, the crewmember tried to stop the copulating passengers.
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“There were angels all around me on that JetBlue flight”

Christopher Parypa /
Christopher Parypa /
Early boarding privileges are typically reserved for frequent fliers and passengers with obvious disabilities. But on a recent JetBlue Airways flight from Boston to Los Angeles, gate agents granted special access to a passenger whose need wasn’t that apparent, and perhaps even in violation of their own airline’s policy.

Elaine Regienus-Gravbelle, who was recovering from a double mastectomy and two other minor surgeries, was on her way to way home to Redondo Beach, Calif. She asked a ticket agent if she could get on the plane first.
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What do you do when points vanish into thin air?

What's the point? / Photo by Mitchell Bartlett - Flickr
Question: I’m having an issue with I thought you might be able to help resolve. I recently traded 6,000 American Airline miles for 6,000 JetBlue miles, with a transaction fee of $100. The interface stated that the estimated processing time was five to eight business days.
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Is this any way to treat a member of the President’s Club?

Sarena Wiener thought she’d taken every precaution before embarking on her Vantage Deluxe World Travel tour of India recently. Her flight itinerary gave her plenty of time to make her connections, she had purchased travel insurance, and besides, she was a valued customer — a member of Vantage’s “President’s Club.”

What could go wrong?

Everything could go wrong, that’s what.
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Passport mix-up leads to a missed tour

When Doris Lemonovich booked a vacation package for two to Costa Rica through Gate 1 Travel, she thought the passport requirements were clear: All she needed was a passport that wouldn’t expire for the next month, according to the State Department.

She though wrong.

When she arrived in San Jose, the customs agents told her she couldn’t stay in the country.
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Here we go again! Another tarmac stranding incident — beware of outraged talking heads on TV

It seemed eerily familiar: A JetBlue aircraft, a freak storm, passengers stranded on an aircraft for hours — and all happened near the media capital of the world.

Except that it wasn’t Valentines Day 2007, the infamous ice storm that cost JetBlue its golden reputation, made a small-minded mainstream media obsessed with tarmac delays and led to tough but largely unnecessary new government rules on tarmac delays.

It was happening right now, in real time.
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JetBlue flight attendant who bailed after passenger confrontation: “Your carry on drama ain’t worth that to me”

I‘ve been following the coverage of Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who bailed out of a parked aircraft after a profanity-laced confrontation with a passenger about his luggage, with some interest.

It’s a curious story, and while reporters congratulated themselves for finding Slater’s MySpace and LinkedIn account, they may have overlooked the richest source of information: his apparent profile on, the industry discussion site where he goes by the handle Skyliner 747.

A review of his postings reveals that he’s a former TWA flight attendant with a history of commenting on luggage issues. At one point, he even seems to indicate that he’s considered exiting an aircraft in an unauthorized way. I’ll get to that in a moment.
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JetBlue’s “classy and professional” move for disabled passenger in need

Here’s a pick-me-up story for a Monday morning: Penny Parrish’s niece bought a roundtrip ticket to Florida to visit her ailing father late last year, but when he died and she asked to return home early, JetBlue Airways charged her a ticket change fee.

Parrish’s niece is deaf, so she suspects there may have been a communication problem at the airport. That’s when she discovered a rarely-used list of JetBlue contacts on my site.
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JetBlue quietly helps family with burned baby

adamThis is Adam James Faust, a 14-month-old boy from the Washington area. One day, Adam and one of his siblings got into a bathtub with their clothes on to play. The hot water got turned on and Adam suffered serious burns on 65 percent of his body, according to his parents’ blog.

It’s a tragic accident that required three months of painful treatment in Boston, 440 miles away. Enter JetBlue and one of the most extraordinary examples of corporate kindness I’ve ever seen.
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Does JetBlue owe me a cash refund for canceling flight 427?

Airline rules are relatively uniform when it comes to canceled flights. You’re owed either a full refund or a flight of the carrier’s choice — but no fare adjustment.

But what if the replacement flight costs less than the original one? That’s what Michael Sorg wanted to know after JetBlue canceled his flight from Boston to West Palm Beach, Fla., recently.

At the time of the reservation I had the option of booking flight 427 leaving at 5:55 p.m. or flight 429 leaving at 7:33 pm.

After a lot of thought, we decided to book flight 427 even though it cost us about $100 more since it would be a more convenient time for our small children. A couple of months later I received an e-mail notifying me that flight 427 was canceled and I was now booked on flight 429.

I called customer service at that time because I felt that I was entitled to a refund of the $100 that I would have paid if I had booked that flight to begin with. They told me that they could issue a credit associated with my confirmation number.

The more I have thought about this, the more I think I am entitled to a refund back on my credit card. The change in flights was NOT due to my request. This credit forces me or a family member to have to purchase another ticket to use it.

A quick look at JetBlue’s contract of carriage (PDF) will reveal that technically, JetBlue is correct.

Rule 25 states …

Whenever Carrier cancels or otherwise fails to operate any scheduled flight, Carrier will, at the request of the Passenger either (i) transport the Passenger on another of Carrier’s flights on which space is available at no additional charge, or (ii) provide Passenger with a full refund in accordance with Section 26 below. Except as may be provided in Section 37 below, Carrier shall have no other liability or responsibility to any Passenger as a result of a failure to operate any flight.

(Section 37 is its customer “Bill of Rights” and doesn’t address Sorg’s situation specifically.)

So it was no surprise that he received the following reply to an email requesting a refund:

Responding to your letter is extremely difficult for we know the high level of service JetBlue strives to extend to each of our valued customers. We know there are times when we are not able to meet their expectations and still remain within the parameters of our company guidelines.

JetBlue is a nonrefundable airline and we only issue credits. We are very flexible with the credit in that it is transferable so anyone can redeem or even sell. We show you have a credit of $94 which is valid until October 10, 2009 and each of you have a $25 voucher. All vouchers are name specific.

You only need to redeem the vouchers and credit by the expiration date, not travel by these dates.

I read form letters every day, and I think the first part is a little over the top. Do they have some kind of ALT+”extremely difficult” key they push to insert that paragraph? If so, I think they should consider toning it down a little. It sounds too much like a letter of condolence sent to someone’s next of kin.

I suggested an appeal to someone higher up at JetBlue, so Sorg emailed David Barger, the airline’s chief executive. Here’s his reply:

Thank you for your correspondence and taking the time to share your concern. Dave Barger has requested that I respond to you on his behalf.

We appreciate your feedback and can assure you that your comments have been heard. We regret that we are unable to honor your request.

We truly value you as a JetBlue customer and hope you will allow us to serve your travel needs at JetBlue in the future.

I think JetBlue is right — and wrong.

Right, in the sense that it doesn’t owe Sorg anything. If it wants to offer him credit — or nothing at all — it’s well within its rights to do that.

But it’s wrong in the sense that JetBlue failed to appreciate this parent’s perspective. Or to see the big picture, for that matter. A refund might have ensured Sorg would become a lifelong customer.

Now, it’s safe to say he’ll go out of his way not to fly on JetBlue.

Christmas air travel warning: avoid Minneapolis, JetBlue and Northwest Flight 189

If you’re making air travel plans for the Christmas holiday, you’ll want to check out these numbers from a new site called Airport Butler. A review of last year’s on-time data by the airline statistics company suggests you might want to avoid flying on JetBlue, Northwest or going anywhere near the Minneapolis airport.

These are delays by origin airport for Dec. 23-25, 2007. Minneapolis, Chicago and New York top the list. No big surprises here – except maybe sunny Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

How about the most delayed airlines?

For all of you non-airline folks reading this, B6 is JetBlue and 9E is Northwest Airlink. In fact, most of these obscure airline codes belong to regional airlines. Lesson? Stay off the small planes if you can.

Let’s dig down into the data a little. Which flights were the most delayed?

Six of the top 10 flights belong to either Northwest or one of Northwest’s regional carriers.

Now, bear in mind that these are last year’s statistics. We have no way of knowing if history will repeat itself. This is just a useful look at past performance.

Feel free to take this data into account – or not – when you’re making your Christmas travel plans.