Canceled / Delayed / Overbooked
COMPLAINT: JetBlue - Hurricane Profiteering

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Old Sep 22, 2008, 4:29 PM
Bill H. Bill H. is offline
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 1

As travel related nightmares go, this is a very minor one -- but still a decent, and, I suspect, all too common example of why the airline industry is garnering so much ill will with the public.....

I had a ticket to fly to New Orleans, on JetBlue, with two traveling companions, for Labor Day weekend. Needless to say, Hurricane Gustav threw a big wrench in those plans. We were scheduled to fly out around 7am, on the morning of August 28th (to return late Tuesday afternoon, September 2nd). Throughout Tuesday, August 26th and Wednesday, the 27th, we kept anxiously checking the reports on the major news outlets and the hurricane forecast maps on the NOAA website. All reports had the hurricane pointing directly towards the Louisiana coast. The governor was warning that evacuations of New Orleans could start as early as Friday, August 29th.

Late afternoon, on the 27th, I met with my traveling companions, to decide what to do. We came to the consensus that it was just too dangerous, and decided to reschedule our trip for Halloween weekend. I asked if we would be charged JetBlue's standard $100 penalty for changing our reservations, since we were only altering our plans, due to the very real threat of Hurricane Gustav. One of my companions called a friend of his who worked for JetBlue, out at JFK. His friend thought it unlikely that JetBlue would charge us the penalty, due to Gustav. My other traveling companion, who is a JetBlue frequent flyer called their Customer Service department, and was told that the company was holding a meeting at 6pm that evening, to decide on their policy, re: Gustav, and that said policy would be in place by 9pm that evening.

Well, the policy that JetBlue appears to have decided upon in that meeting, was to (at least, passively) engage in profiteering.

When I called JetBlue, around 11:30pm that evening, I explained that I was rescheduling my trip for Halloween weekend (to fly out and return on the same flight numbers that I had booked for Labor Day weekend), due to the hurricane. I was informed that I would be charged the $100 cancellation fee, plus taxes and "applicable fees," making the total $185. When I protested the fee, she put me on hold, consulted with her superior, and came back on to inform me that they only "consider" waiving the fee 24 hours before a hurricane makes land-fall.

All three of us wrote complaints to JetBlue's website. My two traveling companions were informed that their $100 fee was being waived. I received an email, telling me that they were unable to waive my fee -- that the penalty "applies to all customers who change a reservation." I promptly wrote them back to tell them that they were not unable to waive the fee -- that they were cherry picking. They then wrote me back, and (condescendingly) offered me a $100 "credit towards a future flight on JetBlue" -- not offering to credit my VISA card, for the $185 they charged me on the 27th. So they sorta kinda waived the $100 penalty (assuming that I would EVER book another flight with them, after this experience), but not the $85 in "taxes and applicable fees."

I did file a complaint yesterday with the Department of Transportation's Aviation Consumer Protection Division.
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