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JetBlue should cop to the fact that they blew this one, and didn’t handle the operational challenges appropriately. Big mea culpas are undoubtedly in the works.
JetBlue customers are seething in the wake of its cessation of flights in the Northeast corridor Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning as the airline blamed the problem on snow, the polar vortex, and dealing with new pilot-rest rules.
In a blog post giving an operational update January 6, JetBlue sought to deflect criticism of its performance with an opening statement that “the beginning of 2014 sure hasn’t been kind to US aviation!”
“The new year began with the winter storm some called Hercules, is shutting down the heaviest trafficked air corridor in the world during one of the heaviest travel periods of the year. Mother Nature then followed that up with icing conditions over the weekend, causing even more issues and ground stops at the airports.
Even as airports began to reopen though, newly launched FAA regulations on pilot duty times caused delayed flights to quickly turn into canceled ones. Now today, less than a week into the year, we’re watching a polar vortex wreak havoc on flight schedules across the industry, as rainy weather prepares to turn airports in the Northeast into ice rinks once again.”
Of the 19 comments in reaction to the blog post on JetBlue.com, the majority were negative, even scathing. Here are nine lines that stand out. (Typos courtesy of the original authors).
PerryArmstrong: JetBlue do you really think the public is stupid,, now your [sic] using the weather as your scapegoat for poor management. I understand the weather played a factor in this but other airlines are still running with less cancelations.
Eric Purington: Let me know when you are a real airline.
Nathan Lowry: This post is framed to read as if JetBlue has handled these circumstances well, as if every other carrier has canceled all flights into NYC… These cancelations are more about poor management than the weather.
Bill: A lot of people are really hurting from these delays and you are doing nothing to help them. You are not even replying to them on your Facebook page. Way to go.
Daniel Gally: 1-800-JETBLUE is the most frustrating experience ever…. “Due to high wait call volumes and long wait times this call will end now, goodbye!” Ughhhh… it’s been 3.5 hours and I can’t even get into the queue!!!
Dave Rester : Customer service severely understaffed. I guess the website looks pretty though and hey, if you can get on a flight you get a few extra inches of legroom!
Lisbeth Mendizabal: I am so frustrated I do not know what to do.
Kristy Sanden: I need to get back home to California immediately!
Simon Milne: Jetblue have put a wonderful PR spin on this, when its fair weather youre [sic] the best when its bad youre [sic] the worst, you still did not learn from feb14, 2007 when Neeleman was chopped, I hope Barger is next… If you can recover from this it will be a PR miracle.
Several of the comments were supportive or passengers were merely seeking information about their flights.
There may have been other reactions to the post, but JetBlue was moderating comments. We wonder what didn’t make the cut.
Over at JetBlue’s Facebook page, customers aren’t any happier. JetBlue posted an FAQ on the “current situation.”
Deirdre Christensen: One of the key problems here is that the “Manage Flights” section that is supposed to help me request a new flight or request a refund doesn’t work. Record of my flight in my account seems to have simply disappeared!
Igor Kharchenko: I love JetBlue too, but this time they screwed up. This reminds me more of ObamaCare than an airline company.
Elizabeth J Landry: Jetblue I messaged you this morning, where is my reply????
James F. Turner Jr.: I’ve been stuck in Puerto Rico for six extra days with no compensation. I’ve spent at least an extra thousand. All I’m trying to do is get back to ft lauderdale. That’s not the weather. What are you going to do, Jetblue?
Lisa Hammond Stickevers: “Manage my flight” doesn’t work for us either. And tried emailing but no option for request refund.
To its credit, JetBlue was answering some of the customer service issues communicated on Facebook.
JetBlue Airways: We have had some cancelations, but we haven’t had any reports of ALL Orlando – NY flights being canceled. Stay tuned for more info and check your flight status here.
The airline is also receiving angry feedback from customers on Twitter, but that is another story: “How Airlines Are Using Social Media to Deal With This Week’s Weather.”