Passengers on JetBlue angry over poor customer service

JetBlue @ SeaTacJetBlue Flight 504 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Newark, New Jersey was diverted to Bradley International Airport in Connecticut at 1:30 on Saturday because of a freakish snow storm affecting the East Coast. Passengers weren’t allowed to deplane until 9:30 that night and were forced to remain on the tarmac and in the aircraft for seven hours with no food, water or working bathrooms.

The situation already reeks of terrible customer service, but the airline industry often has their own particular spin on egregious situations which somehow is supposed to explain any and all miserable experiences passengers are forced to endure – of course for the sake of our safety. When a dozen passengers called 911 hoping to get an answer why they were not allowed to leave, there were no explanations given. When an unidentified pilot called for help to JetBlue and asked his own company to provide a tug and a towbar, no one from the company responded with any help.

When the plane first landed the passengers were told the plane would de-ice, refuel and fly to Newark. During the seven hour debacle, no logical answer was ever given by JetBlue.

In 2010 the Federal Aviation Commission required that an airline has to provide water and snacks to passengers and the option to deplane after three hours on a domestic flight. If the government determines the airline violated the tarmac delay rule, the airline could be fined $27,500 per passenger. Consumers are not entitled to any of the fines. Pilots did not want police to board the plane until hours later when a taped recording stated:

“I got a problem here on the airplane. I’m gonna need to have the cops on board.”

The ordeal was finally over when police and firefighters came on board to attend to a diabetic person and a paraplegic flier who had difficulty with the circulation in his legs.

The JetBlue website boasts the highest customer service rating among low-cost carriers. According to JD Powers and Associates, the airline scored high grades for the seventh year in a row. The company offers free television, free snacks, leg room and “award-winning service.”

“JetBlue is also America’s first and only airline to offer its own Customer Bill of Rights with meaningful and specific compensation for customers inconvenienced by service disruptions within JetBlue’s control.”

In a JetBlue statement, the organization apologized and blamed the situation on an “unusual combination of weather and infrastructure issues.” The next day however passengers had trouble finding new flights – many of them decided to use ground transportation to get back to Newark and their final trip destinations.

So what could JetBlue have done? Good, bad, or indifferent passengers are entitled to the truth. Two-hundred passengers sitting out on the tarmac should have been enough of an impetus to alert an official who had the power to do something and make a positive decision. It was the airport that finally sent a towbar and tow to Flight 504. JetBlue couldn’t even get it together to help their own company.

photo credit: prayitno

4 Responses to “Passengers on JetBlue angry over poor customer service”

  1. David Borreson said:

    Nov 01, 11 at 6:12 pm

    I agree that JetBlue should have kept the customers more informed. Keeping customers in the dark is a great way to create a terrible customer experience.

    But I also think that JetBlue should have offered some sort of additional compensation for their trouble. I mean, this wasn’t just a cancelled flight. This was hours in a plane with terrible conditions. They should be given free flights or something to try to earn their business back. An “online apology” is a slap in the face.

  2. Richard Shapiro said:

    Nov 03, 11 at 8:17 am

    Cheryl, thanks for sharing your valuable opinion on how Jet Blue “blew” away pieces of their reputation …once again. All of these customer service awards are totally meaningless when airlines end up treating passengers as cargo. It is totally unacceptable that customers are not treated as human beings when there is a difficult situation that could be resolved if all of the company’s resources were focused on these individual flights. I would really like to know if the CEO was apprised of the situation or if it was deemed not important enough for him to be bothered. Richard Shapiro, The Center For Client Retention @richardrshapiro

  3. Christine Woods said:

    Nov 05, 11 at 9:21 pm

    Wow! This is so awful, I feel for these consumers. What an horrible event to have happened to them!

  4. Paul Neal said:

    Aug 08, 12 at 4:03 pm

    Over the last twelve flights on Jetblue between San Francisco and Long Beach HALF of the departures have been delayed. I have had several excuses but what I find alarming is to be told that my flight has been delayed due to maintenance issues. That does not instill confidence in air travel, whether the excuse is true or not. Jetblue’s schedule is a joke. While stuck in the departures lounge (on a regular basis) I notice that many of their other flights are also delayed. Jetblue you are losing customers.
    This only started in 2012. Last year’s scheduled flights were fine.