Horrendous JETBLUE experience

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Oct 29, 2017
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Situation: Flying from Montego Bay with a connection in Ft. Lauderdale to final destination Boston on Saturday 22 October 2017.

The scheduled flights included a 2+ hour layover which should be more than adequate for customs. Due to problems with customs at FLL, we sat on the tarmac for over an hour and despite herculean efforts with a chronic knee injury (“running” in a full leg immobilizer) and having no checked bags, I did not make the connecting flight. I was then sent to three different places (first told I have to check in at the gate for info (no one there 10 minutes after flight departed), then directed to an unmanned info desk in Terminal F – then told to go to another unmanned info desk in Terminal E before finally going to the ticketing counter.) I was helped by a very empathetic desk agent, Celeste, who rebooked me for departure the next morning but said her supervisor would not permit a hotel voucher. She did offer a dinner voucher – but by then, all the airport restaurants had closed. I had another agent help call hotels as their “pink slip” for Airport Accommodations had absolutely no rooms available. Even with the agents help at calling numerous hotels directly, there were NO rooms were available due to several cruise ships and other events. I asked to be flown out to another city – on JetBlue or another airline, just for my physical safety. I was told that was not an option. I noted that I was a solo female traveler of mature age with a disability and expressed not only dread of discomfort of spending the night at the airport but dread and high concern for physical safety. The agent laughed and said that I would make new friends. That was the last straw in a very long and exhausting trip and I burst into tears. She told me to change my attitude and cheer up. When I noted that I would not be able to sleep at all from these conditions, she then proceeded to say that she wouldn’t get sleep either as she was on duty until 2am.

After another 45 minutes of phone calls on my own, a semi-local hotel released rooms that were held by Spirit Airlines and I was able to secure safe and appropriate sleeping arrangements after 11pm – but at a cost of $269 not including taxi fares. Why JetBlue does not have a similar program was not offered.

JetBlue maintains, both the local agents and on their 1.800.JETBLUE line, that they are not responsible for accommodations in these circumstances and again, nor for providing flights to another location where hotels would be available. Being told to change my attitude, cheer up, and see this as an adventure and chance to make new friends is offensive. As a female traveler of a “certain age”, traveling alone and with a disability, I find this completely demeaning not to mention jeopardizing my physical safety. Clearly I valued my safety over my budget but feel I am owed reimbursement for the hotel and taxis – as well a huge apology not only for the poor service but especially for the horrible comment about “cheer up, you could make new friends.”

To say this to a senior, handicapped woman, travelling alone, who has expressed concern for her physical safety when forced to spend the night in a public space is inexcusable --- and when called out on it, instead of apologizing, further condescended to me by telling me to “cheer up.” When I began to cry and express disbelief, her response was that she was trying to cheer me up and she wasn’t going to get any sleep either since she had to work until 2am. As if this was comparable.

Leaving passengers with no options overnight at an airport cannot be acceptable --- or has it come to this?
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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@Christin Walth I am sorry to hear of your travel troubles. There are two issues at hand, one is the delay on the tarmac that caused you to miss your connection and the other is your complaint regarding the ticket agent's response to your predicament.

The first issue is not the fault of the airline so they bear no responsibility in providing any hotel accommodation or meals due to the delay. It sounds like one agent did try to assist you as best she could under the circumstances but was unable to secure a hotel room for you. This is not an issue we recommend you addressing with the airline since the delay was not in their control but rather a problem with customs. This is one reason why we recommend trip insurance. A good policy can reimburse you for any expenses you incur due to a delay. You may want to check with your credit card to see if they offer trip insurance as part of their service.

The other issue is one you can bring up to the airline. In a nutshell, you felt that the customer service you received from one agent was not up to JetBlue's standard of service. Is there some sort of resolution that would satisfy you? If so, be reasonable in your expectations. Write to customer service first using the link on JetBlue's website. Be brief, polite and professional. A short letter is much more effective than a long one that most likely will be 'tossed' in the trash. Wait a week or more for a reply before writing to the execs of the airline. You can find their email addresses in the link at the top of the forum titled Company Contacts. Write to them one at a time, waiting at least a week for a reply before moving to the next name on the list. Do not write to them all at once!

Good luck and let us know your progress!
 
Sep 19, 2015
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I would advise any traveler that has a disability, traveling with small children, or any situation which would make them uncomfortable with dealing with being stranded over night at a connecting airport to plan their trip defensively. That means try to book a non-stop flight if possible or chose a morning departure and routing where there is at least a possibility of getting on a later connecting flight; in other words one should not connect to the last flight of the night.

I would hate being stranded in a connecting airport. But I am afraid that Patina is correct; the airline does not owe the passenger the reimbursement for a hotel room and taxi fare for an issue that was not their fault or to fly the passenger to a city that is not the destination in hopes of finding a hotel room -- that is how the airline industry works here for good or bad.

Please note that an airport is not considered a public space, especially after security.

Honestly I am not sure how much compensation the airline may give because the last representative was insensitive -- maybe some points for future travel or a small voucher for use on another trip.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
Christin, this must have been very frustrating. Jet Blue went above and beyond attempting to find you a hotel room; when that proved impossible, the agents attempted to lighten up the atmosphere with a few silly remarks. Silly and insensitive maybe, but no reason for hurt feelings. Many senior citizens with slight disabilities travel by themselves ... what happened to you was unfortunate but not very serious. I am absolutely baffled by your concern about personal safety at an airport. Unless I'm quite naive, I can't see a reason to be terrified of not having a hotel. I've done it twice and yes, it's not great, it's inconvenient and very uncomfortable ... but unsafe?

During a heavy snowstorm at Heathrow several Christmases ago, there were 50,000 people stranded for several days in one of four terminals. No doubt equal numbers of people in all the other terminals as well. Old, young and everything in between. That's a horrendous experience. We had to walk through the terminal several times a day trying to figure out how to get to Paris or fly back home. As far as I know, there were no safety issues whatsoever ... discomfort yes, but everyone put a good face on the situation and endured.

Christina has outlined some great ideas about travelling 'defensively' so you don't find yourself in this position again. And Patina has given you guidance on how to approach JetBlue with your concerns. Good luck and please let us know what transpires.
 
Last edited:

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
I would advise any traveler that has a disability, traveling with small children, or any situation which would make them uncomfortable with dealing with being stranded over night at a connecting airport to plan their trip defensively. That means try to book a non-stop flight if possible or chose a morning departure and routing where there is at least a possibility of getting on a later connecting flight; in other words one should not connect to the last flight of the night.

I would hate being stranded in a connecting airport. But I am afraid that Patina is correct; the airline does not owe the passenger the reimbursement for a hotel room and taxi fare for an issue that was not their fault or to fly the passenger to a city that is not the destination in hopes of finding a hotel room -- that is how the airline industry works here for good or bad.

Please note that an airport is not considered a public space, especially after security.

Honestly I am not sure how much compensation the airline may give because the last representative was insensitive -- maybe some points for future travel or a small voucher for use on another trip.
Did you notify JetBlue when you booked about your physical issues? (My wife has bilateral hip, knee and one shoulder replaced so I fully understand your predicament). That needs to be noted on your record.

Did you have travel insurance? Most policies would have reimbursed you for the hotel.

As Christina said- a tarmac delay is not the fault of JetBlue which is why they didn't pay for a hotel.