Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A final Bronx cheer to JetBlue for 2008

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank JetBlue for providing me with the single worst travel experience of my life in 2008.

You make big noise with your facile marketing about "Happy Jetting" and "Bringing humanity back to air travel", but the fact is that at the first sign of trouble, delay or unplanned events, you treat your paying customers just as crappily as the legacy carriers.

Your choice to sell a product that you can not seem to adequately support (in my case, your Portland, OR, operation) and then to hide behind your "Contract of Carriage" rather than do the right thing is bad enough. But from an airline that markets itself as something better, it is sick and perverse.

I presented you with multiple opportunities to prove that you really are something better and really do want to do right by your customers and each time you proactively chose NOT to do so.

So, see you in small claims court on January 15. I don't much care about winning (except that if I do, I am donating the money to charity.) The way I see it, whatever the outcome, you lose.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

No reponse from JetBlue

Well, I tried. I posted an offer for JetBlue to send a check to a national animal welfare organization instead of to me, in exchange for me pulling my small claims suit against them and taking down this blog.

No response.

They don't have to admit to anything. They just have to do something nice for homeless and abused animals. That's it.

I know they saw my blog post (I can see from the access logs), so I can only guess that the powers that be at JetBlue are saying either of the following:

- "Screw him. He has been banging away at us for months. We're not giving in."

- "The lawyers say 'No way'!"

The sad thing is that they have a chance to do something nice and to make this all go away. They can say (or not say) whatever they want about it.

It would buy them good will with passengers, animal lovers and pet owners everywhere.

Whatever. JetBlue knows how best to promote its brand.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

JetBlue: A peace offering

In the spirit of the holidays, I would like to extend the following offering to JetBlue:

Since you seem to be all about taking good care of pets, if you take the amount of money that I am suing you for ($722.50) and donate it to either the ASPCA or the Humane Society of the United States, I will drop the lawsuit and take down this blog.

All I would need is proof of the donation before our small claims hearing date on January 15, 2009.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

JetBlue: Now we'll strand your dog, too

In yet another triumph of marketing over substance, JetBlue has announced some cockamamie new program for pets which, as far as I can see, is designed get you to buy a dog carrier and a sweatshirt for your dog from JetBlue.

If you are a rich snob like New York gossip columnist Cindy Adams, who designed the dog carrier, JetBlue can't wait to have you and your little rat-dog on board. (Um... Cindy Adams? She's quite the hipster...)

JetBlue does not allow pets as checked baggage, which to JetBlue's credit, is a good thing since God forbid your springer spaniel is locked in the cargo hold for five hours, only to have the flight cancelled for three days.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Customer service: How to do it right

I have been so busy blogging over at my main blog, I feel like poor, little JetBlue has been ignored.

So, in the name of holiday spirit and fellowship, I'll post a recent experience as an example of how to treat a customer, in the hope that JetBlue can take a hint.

I do a lot of running and right now I am training for my second marathon. Since I am not particularly fast, that means hours slogging away all by myself. I pass those hours by listening to my iPod. Over the years, I have tried out different headphones looking for the perfect combination of sound, comfort and stability (i.e. they stay in my ears while running.)

After years of trial and error, I landed on the Klipsch Custom 3. They are, without question, the best sounding earphones I own. They stay firmly in place no matter what and remain comfortable for 4-hour plus runs.

I bought a pair in April and have been using them heavily ever since.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the sound was "scratchy" and traced it to the cord near the headphone jack. I called Klipsch customer service. I spoke to someone right away, who immediately e-mailed me a return authorization and I sent them back.

About a week later, a brand new pair shows up, via FedEx, at my front door. No hassle, no hardship.

Of course, this is exactly what Klipsch should have done. They knew that the product they sold me did not live up to their standards or promise and made good on it.

This, along with my positive experience earlier this year with Steelcase office furniture, restores my faith in American companies and their ability to deliver quality products and stand by them. (In contrast to why I think a good portion of the American auto indstry should be left to die.)

Also contrast that to JetBlue, who insisted on stranding me for three days, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Am I a Klipsch customer for life? You bet.

Am I suing JetBlue? You bet.

Not rocket science, is it JetBlue?

See you in court in exactly one month!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

For the record: If you fly JetBlue...

... you are dead to me.

Yes, I realize that some of my closest friends still fly JetBlue, but to quote soon-to-be-ex-president Bush: "You are with me, or agin', me! Saddle up!"

I only point this out because my now ex-friend Sara flew JetBlue to see her family over Thanksgiving. She is dead to me now.

And my now ex-friend Darryl is even shilling for JetBlue on his widely read, extremely funny and witty blog. He suggested that a JetBlue gift card would make a nifty holiday gift! Traitorous bastard!

What's next, Darryl? Gift certificates to your periodontist???


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

JetBlue - Win a flight to Portland...

...and MAYBE we'll fly you home.

JetBlue is giving away a trip to Portland, Oregon - the very same city in which they stranded me and 149 other people on that fateful day back in July 2008, thereby kicking off my need to sue them.

The "winner" of the contest gets to see an NBA basketball game in which the last place LA Clippers play the Portland Trailblazers. Thanks for that. Can't wait.

(I would post a link, but see no need to help JetBlue drive traffic to its web site.)

Nice to see that JetBlue is sticking by Portland in spite of the fact that it doesn't seem to be able to staff its Portland operations with enough crew, planes or ticket representatives to deliver the product it is selling.

Good luck to all you contest entrants. Let's hope you like Portland. You may end up staying there a long time.

BTW - what genius in JetBlue's promotion's department came up with the idea of giving away a trip to Portland in December? I guess all those flights to Aruba and the Dominican Republic were booked?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

JetBlue: Zagat Love

It looks like JetBlue fared well in the most recent Zagat Survey. Good for them. It is a tribute to their rank-and-file employees (pilots, flight attendants, ticket agents, etc.)

I wonder if these survey results are a reflection of JetBlue being the best of a bad lot and people just accepting the horrific state of air travel today, or if people still have the actual love that I used to have for JetBlue before they hosed me.

Either way, I'm still suing them.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

JetBlue: The Official Airline of Losers

How amusing. JetBlue is bragging that one of its planes that was used by the McCain/Palin campaign set a distance record after it dropped off Sarah Palin and returned to New York.

I would imagine that is because the plane was very light since it was not overloaded with all those weighty electoral votes.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I am the boss of JetBlue!

Looks like my snarky blog post (yeah, I know - they are almost ALL snarky) from Wednesday landed at JetBlue marketing like a round-house punch from Mike Tyson.

After I called out JetBlue's vaunted marketing department for yet another email screw-up, they quick-like-a-bunny sent out a mea culpa, documented here by a JetBlue fan.

Thank God JetBlue marketing has me to keep an eye on things!

You're welcome!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Good Morning JetBlue corporate!

It warms my heart that the corporate types at JetBlue are reading my blog. I can see from my IP address logs that the busy JetBlue beavers in Sandy, Utah, and Kew Gardens, New York, are regular readers of this blog.

Just think of all the corporate staff and legal time being wasted on something that, if JetBlue had only done the right thing, could have been saved.

I can only imagine what their lawyers are going to charge to come up to Connecticut in January to meet me in small claims court.

To all the folks at JetBlue who are reading this today, please say "hello" to CEO David Barger for me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

JetBlue Savings: How's that again?

A friend received this promotional email from JetBlue. (They stopped sending me stuff months ago after I called them out on their inept proofreading.) Like most people, she has Outlook set up not to display HTML images in email without her permission. By doing so, you get to see some of the tags behind the images.

Notice the images below (click on them to enlarge them): The first one shows the email without the images, so you can read the tags, one of which says "Save 10% on flights."

But in the second one, when you load the images, no mention of 10% savings or how to get it. When you click on the email, it takes you to the JetBlue web site where, I guess, they hope you never saw the promise of saving 10%. But don't worry, you can always make a Pomegranate Martini!!!

Oh -and note the fun salutation to Mr. Soandso.

All I can say is that in a Barack Obama America, consumer abuse like this will not stand! There's a new sheriff in town, JetBlue demon-spawn!



Monday, November 3, 2008

JetBlue lawsuit update: Trial date set

I received my trial date from Connecticut Small Claims Court - January 15, 2009.

I am looking forward to meeting JetBlue's crack legal team in the snowy woods of Connecticut!

Here's a photo of the courthouse:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rooting for JetBlue... to do the right thing, all the time

So JetBlue's new Terminal 5 at JFK opened for business today. It looks like almost all of their planes are landing and taking off on time and those that are delayed are under an hour.

Good for JetBlue. It seems its dedication to its New York City hub is without peer.

Now if it could just devote a smidgen of that type of dedication to ALL its routes, JetBlue would be what it claims to be - a different sort of airline.

I had dinner with a friend last night who is a pilot for a charter airline. I was explaining my JetBlue ordeal in detail again and she could not, for the life of her, understand how JetBlue could cancel a flight and then make those passengers wait for three days. She said that the plane had to get back to New York at some point to fly its next route. Just get another crew, load the plane and go.

Easier said than done, apparently. I could only tell her what JetBlue told me - that the next available flight was in three days.

I told her welcome to my lawsuit. The cancellation was weather related, but the lack of crew, equipment and service in Portland, well, I contend that was all JetBlue's doing. JetBlue made a calculation that it was more profitable to screw over 150 pre-paid passengers than make arrangements to deliver what it sold to us.

I am counting on a judge reading JetBlue's "Contract of Carriage" and seeing that the cancellation and the subsequent lack of service were two different things. One is covered in the "Contract of Carriage", the other is not.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New JetBlue terminal: Tomorrow's the big day!

After an obligatory airline-type delay and three quarter of a billion dollars later, JetBlue plans to open their new terminal at JFK tomorrow. The first flight is expected to arrive at 5:00 AM - a red-eye from Burbank.

It will be fun to see if JetBlue can actually pull this one off without stepping on its...

Anyone want to take bets on what time the flight will actually arrive?

Truth be told - I hope it goes off well and without a hitch, if for no other reason, I want the travelers on that Burbank flight to have a pleasant and uneventful flight. If they land on time or early, good for them.

If they do not, I'll be sure to document it here.

Good luck, JetBlue. Don't screw this up!!!

Oh - and I'm still suing you.

Friday, October 17, 2008

JetBlue lawsuit update: JetBlue denies liability

I received my letter from the Connecticut Small Claims court today. JetBlue officially disagrees with my claim.

A paralegal hand-wrote the following explanation, complete with inconsistent and incorrect spellings:

"JetBlue Airways Corporation is not liable per our Contract of Carriage Sections 25 and 28. Mr. Baker recieved [sic] a refund of the cancelled [sic] flights fare as well as vouchers in the amount of $229 for his inconvenience. The reason the flight was canceled [sic] was due to uncontrollable irregularity* (weather.)"

OK, there, Perry Mason. I do not know if I can navigate around that cleverly conceived legal thicket but let me try:

  1. As I have stated on this blog - yes, the cancellation was due to weather. The three day delay in getting me on another JetBlue flight was due to... what? Gremlins? Mercury in retrograde? Global warming?

    No! It was due to the fact that JetBlue didn't have the planes or the staff to fly people to New York from Portland in a reasonable amount of time AFTER the "uncontrollable irregularity." JetBlue sold me a product with a promise to fly me on a certain route on a certain day and then did not have the systems, people or equipment in place to live up to that sale.

  2. I am only suing for the difference between what it cost me to buy a ticket on another airline in order to get home, minus the amount JetBlue refunded to my credit card. JetBlue vouchers are worthless Monopoly money, since I have no intention of ever flying JetBlue again.
I have just laid out my arguments that I will use before the judge when this goes to court. I can only hope that it helps the legal-eagles at JetBlue to further hone their diabolically complex legal strategy.

And, in fact, a court date is next. According to the letter, now that JetBlue has denied liability, "... the matter will be scheduled for a trial as soon as the court schedule permits."

I can only hope that the trial is scheduled in February (say around Valentine's Day) so that JetBlue's lawyers are forced to drive up to lovely Bantam, Connecticut, in a raging blizzard.

* Is it me or does this sound like a tag line to an Ex-Lax commercial?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Answer filed in JetBlue lawsuit!

I did my daily check of the Connecticut Small Claims web site and it appears that on October 14, 2008, "Answer sent to plaintiff(s)".

Not sure what that means (I've never done this before), but when I receive that letter (I assume it will be a letter), I will post an update.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"Justice delayed is...

... par for the course when it comes to JetBlue."

I have heard nothing from JetBlue or the court in Connecticut. At this point, of course, it has nothing to do with JetBlue per se. Near as I can tell from the Connecticut court web site, JetBlue did not answer my claim and so I win by default. What happens next? Beats me. I am waiting to hear.

It just struck me slightly funny that:

1. JetBlue tried to delay me for three days.

2. JetBlue would not listen to reason. It just spouted company talking points and read from the "Contract of Carriage." (In other words - In spite of its claim to "bring humanity back to air travel", it acted not like a concerned human, but an uncaring corporation (which is what it is, but stop trying to tell everyone that you are something better. You are not.)

3. As a result of JetBlue's inhumanity to THIS man, I had to pay $1,000 and arrived home 14 hours late.

4. I sued in small claims court

5. Now I am being delayed again. Not "ha ha" funny. Just funny.

Sure, it's not JetBlue's fault that the courts move at this pace, but then again, if JetBlue had done the right thing in the first place, this blog and this lawsuit would not exist. Or if JetBlue had chosen to answer my claim instead of ignore it, this could have been adjudicated in a much more timely fashion. So I guess JetBlue IS all about delaying it customers anyway it can.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

JetBlue lawsuit update: No answer

JetBlue had until yesterday - October 1, 2008 - to answer my legal claim. According to the State of Connecticut's web site, JetBlue did not respond.

Giving JetBlue the benefit of the doubt here - maybe the court has not processed the paperwork and updated the web site.

I will wait to hear from the court as to what happens next. Stay tuned.

Friday, September 26, 2008

JetBlue: There's nothing we won't delay

After goofy trial runs and puffy press releases, JetBlue has stayed true to form and has delayed... themselves.

Yep. In an unprecedented act of self-sacrifice, JetBlue has delayed the much-ballyhooed opening of their new holding pen (also known as "Terminal 5") at JFK Airport in New York.

"We couldn't resist," said a make-believe JetBlue spokesperson who doesn't really exist. "We've stranded everyone there is to strand except ourselves, so we decided to give it a try. Since we have leather seats, video terminals and neat-o corporate slogans around the office, we don't really care about the delays in opening this three-quarter-billion-dollar strip mall. We just figure it's only fair to treat ourselves and our shareholders in the exact same manner we treat our customers. We just waited until a couple of days AFTER Mayor Bloomberg cut the ribbon to announce the delay because, you know, we didn't want to look like complete a**holes."

Monday, September 22, 2008

JetBlue Terminal 5 hoopla

JetBlue is determined to beat its new terminal at JFK to death. They issued a flurry of press releases today, detailing the color of the wallpaper, the wonderful dining and shopping experience that stranded passengers will enjoy, and the 40 ticket counters that will, at the least opportune moment, be staffed by three overworked and underpaid JetBlue employees.

As opined here, JetBlue might have considered trimming back the $743 million price tag and put some of that money into line-level employee raises, more planes and higher staff levels at cities they (theoretically) service. But while improving the experience that people crave most - getting from point A to point B on time - those things don't make for very sexy press releases.

The best quote in one of the press releases comes from the project director in charge of building the new terminal:

"Inspired by JetBlue's promise to return humanity to air travel, we considered every detail from the traveler's perspective and set out to remove some of the stress involved in air travel," said Gensler project director Bill Hooper.

Funny stuff!

I might have added:

"Passengers may not get anywhere near their destination in anywhere near the time they expected, but they sure will enjoy staring at the new carpeting while they stew in their juices."

Newsflash: Unless those 40 tickets counters in New York are staffed by 40 virgins, I am pretty sure nobody cares. Especially those of us stranded for three days in Portland.

Happy Autumn: Nothing from JetBlue

Welcome to the autumnal equinox, which arrived at 11:44 AM. As the days continue to get shorter and shadows longer, I am reminded that JetBlue has about one week left to answer my small claims suit. So far, not a peep.

Now that Labor Day has passed and the airlines are cutting back their schedules even more, I am curious to hear if there are any new horror stories surfacing. If you have one, send it along.

I did see this one on Chris Elliot's blog this morning. Another innocent traveler possibly forced to take an airline to small claims court (in the case Virgin Atlantic which, like JetBlue, tries to project an image of customer friendliness.).

While not a story of being forced to sleep on a bus in a third world nation after your flight was cancelled, it is, nonetheless, indicative of the shabby way airlines treat paying customers.

A friend also pointed me to this story on Fortune's web site about a guy that took Delta to small claims court, in a situation nearly identical to mine. In a strange little twist, he was screwed by Delta Airlines and had to buy a ticket on JetBlue to get home, while I was screwed by JetBlue and had to buy a ticket on Delta to get home.

There is balance in the universe!

Monday, September 15, 2008

What's wrong with this picture?

In case you missed it, the New York Times had a great article yesterday about how lousy a flight attendant's job has become.

So - let's see if I have the score correct:

- Customers are miserable
- Pilots are miserable
- Flight attendants are miserable
- Shareholders are miserable
- Air traffic control is miserable

Does anyone else think that maybe the system is broken?

Who's happy? Well, check the salaries of the airline executives. I guess they sleep well at night.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Social versus business relationships: It's a tightrope

Someone recently turned me on to the book "Predictably Irrational" by Dan Ariely. It's about how humans make decisions. Very entertaining. Worth reading.

There's a section in the book about how some companies try to make a social connection with their customers. These companies, through marketing and branding, want us to think of them as friends or family, not just a vendor of products or services.

Ariely cites:

- State Farm Insurance: "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there."
- Home Depot: "You can do it. We can help."

The problem comes when the company has to break that "social" relationship and go back to being a business. He uses the example of a bank charging a late fee. If you have a purely business relationship with your bank and it charges you a late fee, well then you are annoyed, but, hey - it's business.

If your bank, however, tries to portray itself as your neighbor and then charges that late fee, that's sort of... un-neighborly. Friends don't charge friends late fees.

This brilliantly captures one of my (many) problems with JetBlue. As discussed before on this and other blogs, JetBlue wants to portray itself as a different kind of airline. Friendlier. More civilized. Better than the others.

But when it comes to treating me - a customer - in a friendlier, more civilized fashion, JetBlue blew it. Big time. Not only did JetBlue wait six hours to cancel my red-eye flight, it wanted to strand me and 149 other passengers in the Portland airport for three more days until it got around to flying us to New York.

This is how friends treat friends? This is how an airline does better?

When I tried to explain this - calmly yet with conviction - to the JeltBlue corporate person who called me after starting this blog, she read chapter and verse from JetBlue's "Contract of Carriage."

With a single cancellation and subsequent mishandling (in my opinion) JetBlue went from being "Happy Jetting, Aren't We Too Cool, Fun-Time Travel Buddies!" to "F--k off, this is business, case closed!"

OK then.

We thought JetBlue was better. Remember - I was a fan-boy before this happened.

But JetBlue violated a trust and an image of its own creation. This blog is the result of that violation. Live by marketing, die by marketing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's official! My JetBlue lawsuit has been accepted.

I received notice today that the Connecticut Small Claims Court has accepted my case against JetBlue. It (JetBlue) has until October 1, 2008 to respond.

You can follow it here.

I suspect that upon receiving my complaint, JetBlue will have already spent more on lawyers than I am requesting but, hey, that's JetBlue's problem.

For a more thorough explanation of my reasons for going the small claims route, see this previous post. Basically it says "Let's hold the airlines accountable for the service we purchase."

It will be interesting just to see how this progresses. Win or lose, it will be a powerful incentive to everyone who has been screwed by an airline to take action on their own behalf. If enough people file small claims suits, it will eventually become more cost-effective for the airlines to do the right thing and deliver the product they are selling, rather than make the cynical calculation that pissing-off customers is just a cost of doing business and we'll get over it and be back anyway.

Sure - we all have to fly for one reason or another. But if we make it financially impossible to get way with treating us this way, eventually it is the airlines that will have to change, not us.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

No, I didn't really go to JetBlue's "Flight to Nowhere"

I have received a few emails asking if I actually attended JetBlue's shakedown cruise of their new terminal at JFK this past Saturday.

Yes, I know I said I was going. I lied.

I had no intention of going, despite being invited. I just wanted to keep those JetBlue PR folks on their toes. (As if they actually cared about me one way or the other. All evidence up to now indicates JetBlue could not care less about a former VERY loyal customer.)

I did see some press reports about the new terminal and I have to say, it appears quite nice. It better be. According to the New York Times, it cost $743 million. Too bad JetBlue didn't put some of that money into a couple of extra planes and staff that could actually deliver the service they are selling to customers.

Look at it this way - which would YOU choose?:

- Behind Door #1, we have you stuck in JetBlue's fancy new terminal due to a lack of a plane or a crew.

- Behind Door #2, you wait in the old terminal, but board your plane on time and arrive at your destination somewhere in the vicinity of the promised time.

- Behind Door #3, we have a year's supply of canned chipped beef.

"I'll take doors #2 or 3, Monty. Anything is better than sitting around waiting for JetBlue to do what I actually paid them to do."

Well, I guess if you are being held in purgatory, it's nice if you can get some sushi and a microbrew.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

And now back to JetBlue: "Happy Jetting" my ass

A colleague of mine commented to me after reading my blog post about the dopey invitation that JetBlue sent me a couple of days ago that it seems that JetBlue keeps loading the gun and handing it to me.

Yep. Any company that lives by slick marketing will ultimately get hoisted with its own petard.

In its ongoing effort to TALK about how wonderful it is, rather than actually BE wonderful, JetBlue has created a microsite called "Happy Jetting", which is their marketing slogan du jour.One of the pages on the "Happy Jetting" web site is called "Jetting Cares" and it reads as follows (I am NOT making this up):

"At JetBlue we believe happiness is a whole lot better than grouchiness, anger and unhappiness. We believe that happy crewmembers lead to happy customers. We believe that listening isn't hard to do. We believe that while air travel always has its unexpected bumps, our job is to keep improving the ride. And we believe that when you add that kind of common sense to 35,000 feet, you make air travel something it hasn't been in a long time: enjoyable."

Now, this statement must be parsed. Bear with me:

- At JetBlue we believe happiness is a whole lot better than grouchiness, anger and unhappiness.
OK, we accept that you believe that. Who wouldn't? It's common sense. We all believe that too. We're with ya'!

- We believe that happy crewmembers lead to happy customers.
Uh oh. Sounds good, but what about the poor JetBlue employee that I had to deal with at the ticket counter in Portland when you cancelled my flight and told me I could fly in three days? THAT guy was so unhappy, you could taste it. He actually said to me that he wished there was a supervisor there, but it was 5:00 AM and they run a skeleton crew in Portland so, sorry, but he was almost as miserable as I was.

- We believe that listening isn't hard to do.
Big trouble here. That same employee was not EMPOWERED to listen. He could only say two things to the planeload of stranded customers: "Partial refund or wait three days for the next flight." That's ALL he kept saying because that's all he was allowed to say by JetBlue. Listening was NEVER part of the equation. And the corporate relations person who called me a couple of weeks ago kept reciting from the "Contract of Carriage" as if it were the Talmud. She "heard" what I was saying, but she was never really "listening".

- We believe that while air travel always has its unexpected bumps, our job is to keep improving the ride.
"Unexpected bumps?" Bad weather is an unexpected bump. Mechanical problems are unexpected bumps. Stranding 150 people for three days in an airport with no food or lodging because you are selling a product that you can not properly service - that is somewhere between a "bump" and an "egregious abdication of any corporate responsibility to the customer."

- And we believe that when you add that kind of common sense to 35,000 feet, you make air travel something it hasn't been in a long time: enjoyable.
Yeah, well, I can't really comment on this one since the closest I got to 35,000 feet with JetBlue was the escalator up to the ticket counter, where I was told, in essence, to "f-off." To find out what it was like to enjoy anything at 35,000 feet, I had to buy a one-way ticket home for $1,000 on Delta Airlines.

So there you have it. More marketing pablum from a company that talks a great game, but forgets the essential part of any customer experience is actually providing the product that you sold to the customer.

As Hamlet (or was it Homer?) said: "D'oh!"

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Let's pick on a different airline

JetBlue invites abuse. It would be impolite of me to not accept.

That said, I just got around to reading the latest issue of BusinessWeek, wherein reporter Roben Farzad makes the rather compelling case that it is time to put a bullet in what's left of the brain of United Airlines and put it out of all of our misery.

I couldn't agree more. United has been a basket case for years. Its management are a bunch of well-compensated [fill in the blank] (don't forget - United CEO Glenn "Let Them Eat (Maybe) Pretzels" Tilton was paid nearly $24 million last year) who seem to be universally reviled by the rank-and-file employees.

There is an entire web site - - that tells in glorious detail the utter heinousness of the United flying experience.

During the Olympics this week, it's almost comical watching United Airline commercials, with "Rhapsody in Blue" playing in the background, trying to convince us what a pleasurable experience flying can be. If I were George Gershwin, I would be scoring perfect 10s doing Olympic back flips in my grave.

I even have a couple of doozy United incompetence stories that are so surreal, they defy logic. I'll share in due course.

Listen - I know that picking on the airline industry is like shooting fish in a shoebox. And I certainly know that I am not the first. Or the 50 thousandth. But, I think we can all agree that things are out of hand and someone has to do something. The way they treat paying customers is, in some cases, (and just in my opinion) borderline criminal. As I have stated and will continue to state: Selling a product you can't adequately deliver and support is an act of fraud. Fraud is a crime.

Somehow, the airlines have managed to lobby Congress to enable them to charge us, then strand us, and then hide behind their "Contracts of Carriage".

Let me see if I can simplify the language in the airlines' "Contract of Carriage" for you:

"We are incompetent. We know this. Congress knows this. Now you do. There is a good chance we will not be able to get you where you paid us to go. By buying this ticket, you are agreeing to our incompetence and accepting, in a legally binding fashion, that we have no obligation to do anything remotely resembling flying you from point "A" to point "B". If you are stupid enough to agree to such a ridiculous arrangement, well, then shame on you, dumb-ass."

Feel free to tell me if I have misinterpreted something.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

JetBlue marketing: "Schedules? We don't need no stinkin' schedules!"

Well, it really doesn't get much better than this. Really. If this wasn't the truth, you would think I was lying.

It appears that the vaunted JetBlue marketing department - the same one that paints a nice blue veneer of customer happiness over their lousy customer experience - has the same casual relationship with scheduling as the people who coordinate the planes and the crews.

Before I reveal what I am talking about, a quick refresher to the thousands of new readers coming to this blog every week (and that also sets up this blog entry to perfection.)

1. I started this blog because JetBlue canceled my flight from Portland, Oregon, to New York and wanted me (and all the other passengers) to wait three days until they got around to scheduling us.

2. A couple of weeks ago, I was poking fun at JetBlue for inviting people to a dress rehearsal of their new terminal at JFK airport on August 23. This appears to involve arriving at the airport and then going nowhere - an experience that JetBlue passengers know all too well.

Well, guess what?

I received my invitation today from JetBlue! Yep. Your humble writer has been cordially invited to spend an August Saturday in Queens, New York, going nowhere with JetBlue.

I plan to wear a tee-shirt along the lines of "I paid JetBlue to fly me home from Portland and all I got was this lousy tee-shirt" with the address for this blog on the back. But I am open to suggestions.

Gee, I hope there will be reporters there!

But that's not the best of it. Click on the image below of the actual, fancy email invitation I received from JetBlue. As you can plainly see where I have circled in red, JetBlue seems to have some sort of genetic problem with schedules.

The RSVP date is five days after the actual event!

I guess we really will be making "aviation history" as we travel back to the future to accept JetBlue's ridiculous offer.

I will let you all know how it feels to be the world's first time travelers.

Also note at the bottom of the invite it says: "Note: You will not take a flight or leave the building during the trial run."

And this is different from my experience with JetBlue flight - how?

Happy Jetting!

Am I being opaque?

I received a couple of emails from people saying, in effect, "What are the airlines supposed to do if weather screws up their schedules and their crews are over the legal hours?"

Let me make myself perfectly clear, if I have failed to do so up to now (and this is the same point I made to the multiple JetBlue customer service and corporate relations people with whom I spoke):

(clearing my throat here - ahem)


So, in my example with JetBlue, they should have found a crew in Los Angeles or Las Vegas, flown that crew (either in a JetBlue plane or another carrier - I don't really care) to Portland and flown me and my fellow passengers to New York instead of stranding us at the Portland airport for (at least) three days with no hotel or food accommodations.

What? Can't do that, JetBlue? Too expensive? Not enough crew? No planes?

NOT my problem! YOUR problem!

Except that you chose to make it my problem by basically selling me a product you could not deliver. So I am taking your blue asses to court. So, STILL your problem.

I keep thinking my anger over how we are treated by the airlines will dissipate with time. But, to my amazement, it has not. It is constantly renewed by tales like the US Airway debacle in the Dominican Republic and the multimillion dollar salaries that the CEOs of airlines are being paid despite running their companies like third-graders.

If only the airlines could tap into the same source that is fueling all of our anger at them, they would never have to buy another gallon of jet fuel.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

We're the airline industry! Welcome aboard. Welcome to HELL!

This story just came to my attention. U.S. Airways strands passengers in Dominican Republic. People actually had to spend the night sleeping in a parked bus because they had nowhere else to go.

The excuse?

First weather, then "we have no crew."

Sound familiar?

How are the airlines getting away with this and Congress sits by and watches? Just like my experience with JetBlue, the airline blames weather and then, when the plane finally makes it through, the crew is over their legal hours so they just STRAND PEOPLE???

Is this criminal? It's theft, isn't it? Am I missing something?

If you pay me in advance for a service or product that I know there is a chance I simply can not deliver, aren't I stealing from you? Sure, I can offer you a partial refund, as JetBlue did for me, but if I wanted to hand my money to someone, only to have them hand it back to me two months later, I would have deposited it in the bank and earned interest.

I did not pay the airlines for the POSSIBILITY that they MIGHT be able to take me to and from my destination.

This is simply wrong. As I have said repeatedly - on this blog, to JetBlue and to anyone who will listen - it is WRONG to sell a product you can not service and support.

It's just that simple.

Oh, by the way - I left out the CEO of US Airways in my previous post.

W. Douglas Parker - the man who seems to have no problem with his customers (including children) sleeping on a bus in the Dominican Republic - was paid (as opposed to "earned") $5.4 million last year.

Look for yourself (click on chart to enlarge):

Monday, August 18, 2008

Airline CEOs: I would do the same, crappy job for half the price

I took a look at the most recent proxy statements of a few airlines. And, loath that I am to say so, JetBlue's CEO(s) aren't as greedy as their counterparts. Take a look:

JetBlue had two CEOs in 2007. David Neeleman was CEO until May 2007, when he was bounced for (or at least in part for) the now-infamous JetBlue Valentine's Day Massacre of 2007.

Current CEO David Barger took over that role from Neeleman. Together, their combined salaries for 2007 were about $800,000.

"That's OUTRAGEOUS!" you say.

Well, yes it is for such horrific service, but JetBlue's management are responsible corporate citizens when compared to the other weasels that make up the corner offices of the airline industry:

  • Delta CEO Richard Anderson: $3.3 million
  • American CEO Gerard Arpey: $4.6 million
  • Continental CEO Larry Kellner: $7.3 million
BUT... the winner is:
  • United CEO Glenn Tilton: $23.8 million!
Congratulations to all you airline executives! Your mothers must be very proud. Your ability to screw over the public while taking home the big bucks is something that she never could have taught you. Indeed, you must have learned that at business school.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Add censorship to the airline/China comparison

It was about 10 seconds after I posted the item below, which cleverly compares the airline industry to the oppressive Chinese government, when this item came to my attention from Chris Elliott's blog.

It appears a grandmother was led off a JetBlue flight in handcuffs for videotaping an on-board skirmish.

My beef is officially with JetBlue management and not the rank-and-file employees, but I have to ask: what were those flight attendants thinking?

Looks like the JetBlue PR flacks will be taking more shrapnel...

Airlines, China: Tough to tell the difference

I was thinking the other day about what a farce these Olympics are because of the utterly corrupt and contemptible bunch of dictators that rule China.

And then it occurred to me that the top echelons of the Chinese government must have gone to the same management schools as the executives of the United States airline industry.

Careful analysis bears this out:

Feel free to add your own!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What's a six letter word for "Satan"?


(J-e-t-B-l-u-e holds the seven letter rights.)

My story of JetBlue abuse looks like a kindergarten-age practical joke compared to this story of horror courtesy of the friendly skies of United Airlines.

You know that green scum that often forms on ponds and small lakes during the dog days of summer? It is held in higher regard than JetBlue or United management by 4-out-of-5 Americans surveyed.*

*This statement was fabricated by the author of this blog. It has no basis in reality. He just pulled it out of thin air in a feeble and ham-handed attempt at humor at the expense of the noble and caring people who make up senior management of the airline industry. You see, like the airlines, the author of this blog tries to wrap himself in a cloak of honesty and integrity, while hiding the fact that he is an evil malcontent in the fine print of his blog. This fine print includes a "Contract of Readerage" which, like the airlines' "Contract of Carriage," disavows any semblance of commitment to quality service, truthfulness or fair play. This blog is, like the airline industry, unencumbered by the thought process. Deal with it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How do you say "Do you have any pretzels?" in Korean?

My fight with JetBlue has gone international:

Translated from Korean, the title says: "JetBlue: Another Crisis?"

One can hope...

More chatter from the tech press

Beth Pariseau, writer with TechTarget, blogged about my JetBlue travails. It's interesting how the technology writers are picking up on the "power of the blog" angle.

Make sense, since the travel writers have done an excellent job of covering the travel angle, as evidenced by the New York Times story mentioned in my previous post.

Today's New York Times

In case you missed it, this story from Joe Sharkey appears in today's edition of the New York Times.

More kidnapping and illegal (or should be illegal) imprisonment by the airline industry.

I was at my in-laws this weekend and we were discussing my JetBlue beef. We all agreed that in any other context, the act of entrapping people, holding them against their will, denying them water, clean facilities and possibly medication and verbally abusing them would be considered a felony (and possibly a violation of the Geneva Convention, considering the airlines appear to be at war with their customers.)

With JetBlue and the airlines, it's just how they do business.

Monday, August 11, 2008

No - I have not heard from JetBlue

A few people have emailed me asking if I have heard anything more from JetBlue. The answer is no and I do not expect to. Were I they, I would just sit back and count on this whole thing slowly fading away.

Maybe it will. I am just one voice. Well, maybe not one. Check out this post from tech writer Joe Wilcox. Once again, JetBlue coughed up a hairball all over its paying customers

Seriously, I honestly think that collectively, we can do something to hold the airlines accountable. Tell your friends, family and pets about this blog and feel free to tell me about any other blogs that document the daily horrors of the U.S. airline industry.

I will continue to tilt at the JetBlue windmill.

I have mailed off my small claims form and will document here what happens during the whole process. Whatever JetBlue does (or don't do), you'll read about it here.

In the mean time, keep those cards and letters coming.

Friday, August 8, 2008

JetBlue customer committment: Putting lipstick on a pig

Take a moment to read some of the comments on this blog. It's clear that my experience was not an isolated one.

Here's the thing that really rips me about JetBlue: It wants to market itself as a better kind of airline. And how does it do that?

- TV at every seat
- a customer "Bill of Rights"
- Handing out cookies, water and earplugs to passengers they stranded
- Free snacks on flights
- Leather seats
- A slick marketing campaign with the tagline "Happy Jetting"

The problem is: I and almost every traveler alive would happily, willingly, give up ALL those things if they would just get us where we need to go. Get us where we have PRE-PAID them to take us. Do it in way that is respectful and appreciative of our business.

All the stuff listed above is at the margins. In the end, it is meaningless if you don't actually get where you need to go. It is a cynical attempt to convince customers that JetBlue is somehow different, better. Imagine if a car company said "Well, your engine doesn't work, but how 'bout that stereo system!" You get the point.

I'll admit: I sort of bought into it. But trust is quickly lost and not easily earned. JetBlue clearly believes in putting a veneer of quality service on top of what we all now know to be true: that it is just another airline that can not adequately staff and support the product it sells.

Stop trying to sell us on being good and actually BE good. That's all we ask.

The plot thickens...

I received a call from c/net yesterday, inquiring about my little spat with JetBlue. I spoke with Senior Editor Charlie Cooper, who wrote an excellent article. Charlie was less concerned with my plight per se and more interested in how, in this day of blogs and YouTube and instant citizen "journalism", how companies like JetBlue can expect to get away with anything.

I agree. I think.

For the JetBlues of the world, it really comes down to an actuarial calculation that I am sure goes something like this:

"For every loudmouth like Bill Baker, who is just smart (or dumb) enough to set up his own blog and bitch, there are millions of people who will just sit back and take whatever bad service we can get away with."

The thing is, as I said to Charlie, my wife and anyone who asks - JetBlue had several opportunities to do the right thing during this process and each time they blew it.

Also, I have been totally up front with JetBlue all along. I told them that I was going to blog about it. I told them I was in PR and and knew how to reach the media.

Funny how within an hour of posting his story, Charlie heard from the PR guys at JetBlue. (Us PR guys - we always know precisely when to get into the game!)

Someone said to me "You're going to be the guy to bring down JetBlue." If only. Were I that powerful, I would get myself elected president or embarrass an automobile manufacturer into giving me a free car. Or something.

And, honestly - I don't want to bring down JetBlue. I want to bring "up" JetBlue and the rest of the airlines. If this whole episode results in a friend, family member or a complete stranger being treated humanely and with a modicum of compassion then job well done.

It will be interesting to see if I hear from JetBlue again. I have spoken to them four times and so far, all they have done is recite from the Contract of Carriage, which says that they don't have to do anything remotely resembling the "right thing."

Advice to JetBlue: If you plan to call me, think first. It's no longer about the money I had to spend and the time I lost getting home. It's bigger than that. Think about what might be the right thing here and then do it. Be creative. Be smart. Or just be humane.

By the way, just in case anyone reading this thinks I am some crank who just likes to complain: On my personal blog, a few weeks ago I wrote about a company that treats its customers right - Steelcase. I encourage you to read it. Needless to say - I am a lifetime Steelcase customer.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Flying to nowhere on JetBlue: Been there, done that

JetBlue is getting ready to open their new terminal at JFK Airport in New York. In preparation, they have invited 1,000 frequent fliers to come and help them do a dry run on August 23, just to make sure everything is working. But they won't actually fly anywhere. These people will just show up at the airport, go through security and, well, sit there, I guess. They will get free parking, lunch and some gifts.

News flash: I recently had that same experience with JetBlue, minus the gifts, free parking and the fact that I did not volunteer AND I had to pay $1,000 extra to actually get home.

Allow me to offer some advice to those 1,000 invitees: I can think of about 9,000 better things to do on a Saturday in August than sit in a JetBlue terminal and fly nowhere. As much fun as JetBlue might have you believe this activity is, it actually really sucks. Trust me.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The future for air travel: Dig deeper

There are three choices, as I see it, for the airline industry (and they are not necessarily mutually exclusive):

1. We all stop accepting the status quo and just refuse to fly. That will cut down on traffic, ease congestion and force airlines to re-earn our trust and business. If that includes raising prices to a level that allows them to actually run their business in a way that provides an acceptable level of service, so be it.

2. Re-regulation. Congress steps in, viewing air travel almost like a utility that needs to be regulated. Airlines are allowed to earn certain, regulated profits, which would be reflected in the price of tickets (i.e. the days of $300 cross-country flights are over). Congestion eases, service quality goes up and it is the 1960s all over again: air travel is for business people and those who are willing to pay.

3. Things keep going the way the are and the system collapses under its own weight. Airlines will go out of business, the survivors will be in a better position to raise prices and run a real business.

There's a common thread here: Prices must keep going up. People like me can't bitch about crappy service and then not be willing to pay for good service.

And I realize that paying $1,000 for a ticket that used to cost $300 is not going to change the realities of weather. What it will do, however, is cut down on traffic and allow the airlines to run a system that actually has slack built into it, so that we don't have to live in airports, waiting for the next flight out.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Lest you think I am a JetBlue bigot....

I actually hate ALL airlines, pretty much. So, since I know the JetBlueMeanies are reading this, I figure I'll throw them a bone and pick on another airline:

As I type this (4:30 PM EDT, August 4, 2008), a work colleague is sitting on the tarmac at JFK on an American Airlines flight (#85) to San Francisco that was supposed to leave at 3:00 PM.

The problem?

They have to replace the co-pilot's seat because it is broken.


A couple of thoughts:

1. Aren't these crew the same people who always seem to cut in front of me at security so they can get to their plane to make sure everything is all set?

2. Nobody noticed this BEFORE they imprisoned a planeful of innocent travelers? I am willing to bet that some pilot's fat ass was sitting in that seat two hours earlier. He couldn't say anything?

This is why we hate you, airline industry. HATE!

JetBlue pillow talk: "That will be $7.00 please"

JetBlue has announced that they will now charge $7.00 for the pillow and blanket.

I say: "No problem." If that's what it takes to help JetBlue act like a real airline, so be it. They are in business to make a profit and if this helps, well then bless them.

By the way, according to the press release, the new pillow "... features an advanced technology called MicronOne, a fabric that blocks all micro-toxins larger than one micron in size, such as dust mites, mold spores, pollen and pet dander. Using this technology, the airline's new in-flight pillow and blanket kit provides peace-of-mind and allows the health-conscious traveler to rest easier in flight."

Um - does that mean the old ones were basically large sachets filled with bugs, fungus and dried dog skin? Just curious, JetBlue.

The press release also says: "On JetBlue's overnight flights from the West, customers are enticed to sleep with the airline's signature Shut-Eye Service, which includes a complimentary Snooze Kit containing an eyeshade and ear plugs."

I ask: "Can I use the pillow, blankets and eye-shades to set up camp in the airport during the three days I have to live there when JetBlue fails to deliver what I paid for - a ride home?"

Friday, August 1, 2008

What kind of business model is this, anyway?

I had this thought. Imagine this scenario:

You call up to make a dinner reservation for two weeks from now. The person on the phone takes your reservation and asks you to place your order. Then you are asked for your credit card and it is immediately charged for the amount of your order.

Two weeks later, you show up to consume what you have already paid for, only to be told that the restaurant can not serve your food tonight. Further, they will not give you a refund because they think they can squeeze you in for dinner two nights from now.

How long do you think this restaurant would be in business?

Is there another business in the world that charges you for their product in advance and then when they can't deliver it says that it is not their fault and there is nothing they can do for you? (Well, nothing that you want or that would make a difference.)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Guess who called last night


Yep. Apparently this blog has come to the attention of the folks at JetBlue corporate. I spoke to someone in customer relations (Out of respect and deference, I won't reveal her name, even though I am sure she knew that it was possible that I might.)

Let me say at the outset that she was professional, polite, considerate and seemed genuinely sorry that I had such a miserable experience on JetBlue. She is an asset to the company and if she worked for me, I would give her a raise and promotion. She did her job admirably.

That said - I am in public relations, so I know when someone is sticking to talking points. I have written a few of them myself over the years.

Her talking points involved a familiar refrain: Air Traffic Control and weather delays are beyond our control. She also referred to JetBlue's "Contract of Carriage" a number of times.

Fair enough, I said, but weather and ATC are not the issues here. Those are merely contributing factors to a much larger problem. In my case it was the piling-on effect of the delay, then the lack of crew, then the cancellation, then the lack of staff at the airport, then the lack of compassion or ability of the two staffers to do anything for us customers other than tell us we could wait three days for the next flight.

I said that if I were running the airline, I would have had another crew and plane ready to go faster than three days. She said that if this had happened in New York or Long Beach, that might have been possible, but they only operate one flight to Portland a day, so staffing and rescheduling is not as simple. I responded that, in my view, JetBlue was selling a product (a trip to Portland) that they could not adequately staff and support. I have an expectation that when I purchase a product or service, there are adequate resources to deliver what I paid for. I interpreted her comments as a tacit admission that JetBlue could not meet the commitment they have made to its Portland service, so maybe they should stop selling that product. (She did not concede the point.)

She also confirmed that JetBlue does not have interline agreements that would enable them to put passengers on another air carrier. She says that this is one of the ways that they can keep prices low. I thanked her for confirming another reason NOT to fly JetBlue. While Continental, American, Delta and United will certainly not guarantee me a seat on another carrier, with JetBlue, I am guaranteed that it will never happen.

(According to this Washington Post article, it was not always thus.)

Anyway, we went back and forth, and while I appreciated the conversation and the chance to speak with her, it bugs me that it took this blog to prompt JetBlue to take action.

And what action did they take, other than calling me? Well, they offered me an additional $60 refund, plus another non-transferable certificate for $129.00. There is some sort of method to these figures, but it's not entirely clear to me what it is.

I am still out several hundred dollars and the loss of an entire work day (I am self-employed and bill by the hour, so that's a full day of lost income.)

I have no idea if my small claims suit has any legal merit, but it's my right to find out. I have a feeling that if everyone who purchased an airline ticket, only to be bumped, delayed, canceled, held captive or otherwise abused filed a small claims suit, the airlines would be faced with either spending a lot of money on lawyers answering each of those suits OR figuring out a away to deliver what they charged us for. The airlines blame the current state of the industry on everyone and everything except themselves including fuel prices, weather, the FAA, Congress, air traffic controllers, ad nauseum. But if they had to defend themselves in tens of thousands of lawsuits, you can bet they would figure things out pretty quickly or risk going out of business.

A year ago, if a flight sat on a runway for hours before taking off or after landing, it might have made the evening news. Today, service has deteriorated so much, that the airlines are trying to convince us that's just the way it is. If a flight happens to arrive any time close to the schedule, consider it gravy.

This trip finally pushed me over the edge. If we continue to accept this from the airlines, they will continue to deliver this galactically bad service.

I choose to light a candle, rather than sit on a motionless airplane or in a gloomy departure lounge, cursing the darkness.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Filled out my small claims form last night

Just have to sign and get it notarized and then it's off to JetBlue!

(I wonder how much their lawyers charge per hour?)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wow! This JetBlue horror story beats mine hands down

This blog and my main blog are getting a crazy number of hits. I must have struck a nerve.

I have to say - my JetBlue horror story pales in comparison to this one, sent by my friend Tracy.

JetBlue's frequent flyer program is called "TrueBlue". I have decided to appropriate that moniker and invite people to send in their "TrueBlue Horror Stories". I will gladly post them here:

Read this one from Tracy and weep:

My assistant's husband tried to fly to Vegas Sunday morning on JetBlue. His flight was scheduled to leave New York at 10:00am. He boarded the plane, then sat on the runway until 7:00 PM at night. No one was allowed off the plane. All they fed them was pretzels because they said they couldn't get them food on the runway. THEN get this: they finally took off Sunday night and had to land in the Midwest because the toilets were overflowing from all the people stuck on the plane for 8 hours. sorry- but that might beat your story.

Indeed it does, Trace! Hats off JetBlue! You are considerably more evil than any of us imagined!

POST #7 - Second Response from JetBlue: "Legally bite me!"

JetBlue Response #2: No, really. Tough luck! Now go away!

I replied to JetBlue that I found their response unacceptable. They replied with the note below. I said "OK. See you in court."

BUT GOOD NEWS! I received my $100 flight voucher today, good for travel on a future JetBlue flight. I would try to sell it on eBay, but I am the only one who can use it. It is non-transferable.

Those crafty JetBlue-devils: Always screwing the customer at every turn!

One note: I blame all of this on JetBlue management and not the rank-and-file who have to carry out corporate policies. I am inspired to say this because of a post on Chris Elliott's blog today about how airline passengers are turning abusive toward employees and equipment. I agree with Chris's thoughts 100 percent: It is not their fault. They are handed a bag of sh*t by management and then told to go out, smile and sell it as delicious chocolate ice cream.

JetBlue employees are indeed victims here too. Their misery should not be compounded by abusive airline passengers.

For the record - during my entire ordeal, I never once used abusive or disrepectful language toward a JetBlue employee. I made my anger clear, but also made it clear that I knew it was not their fault.

Dear Mr. Baker,

Thank you for your additional email to JetBlue Airways and for letting us know of your continued disappointment. We welcome another opportunity to respond to your concerns and request.

Again, we deeply regret your disappointment and that we were unable to operate your flight as scheduled. We offer our sincere apologies for the inconvenience this has caused you.

All travel on JetBlue, whether it is domestic or international travel, is subject to JetBlue's Contract of Carriage. The Contract of Carriage details JetBlue?s liability for failure to operate in section 25 and 26. You may reference the Contract via the following link:

We hope to serve you onboard a JetBlue flight again in the future.


Customer Commitment Crew
JetBlue Airways
Crewmember 91509

POST #6 - First response from JetBlue: "Bite me!"

JetBlue Response: Tough Luck

I received the email below today from JetBlue customer service. I have told them that this response is unacceptable and that I want them to refund the amount of my ticket to get home. If they do not, I will take them to small claims court.

Notice that nowhere in her email did she acknowledge the fact that I would have had to spend three days living in the Portland airport for the next available JetBlue flight. Nowhere does she acknowledge the lack of staffing at the Portland airport.

Since I do not want to gum up my main blog with the stench of JetBlue, I have decide to set up a separate blog to document my proceedings with JetBlue at:

More to come.


Dear Mr. Baker,

Thank you for contacting us in regards to your recent JetBlue experience. We appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns.

We regret we were unable to operate JetBlue Flight #166 on July 23, 2008 as scheduled. We know our customers rely on us to operate their flights as scheduled, but as you know sometimes it becomes necessary to cancel flights.

When we can see that weather and Air Traffic Control (ATC) delays will significantly impact our operations, we will cancel our flights as soon as possible to allow our customer enough time to make other travel arrangements. Because we were focusing our efforts to locating another Inflight Crew and to operate this flight, there was a delay in making the final decision to cancel the flight. We apologize for the inconvenience this caused.

We hope at some point in the future will we be able to welcome you back onboard so we may provide you with a renewed and positive experience.


Customer Commitment Crew
JetBlue Airways
Crewmember 91509

POST #5 - JetBlue - Part the Third: Free at last!

Journey's end: Recovering from the JetBlue blues

Made it home at midnight last night - 14 hours late and $1,000 poorer - all thanks to JetBlue.

My Northwest flight from Portland to Detroit left nearly on time, at 9:00 AM PDT. I arrived in Detroit with plenty of time to make my connection to JFK. But since the Detroit/JFK segment was delayed two hours, I had MORE than enough time.

As I explained to the JetBlue customer service people with whom I spoke today, my issues with them are:

1.) I understand that weather can cause delays - even five hour delays. Not happy about it, but totally understand.

2.) JetBlue made people spend six hours at the Portland airport - from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM, only to tell them that the flight was cancelled.

3.) The flight was DELAYED because of weather. The flight was CANCELLED because JetBlue did not have a crew available. That is NOT an act of God. It is an act of gross incompetence and indifference on the part of JetBlue. I can not believe that in the six hours it took the plane to get from NYC to Portland that they could not come up with another crew. And if they really couldn't, that is JetBlue's fault, not the weather's.

4.) JetBlue did not have the staff on-site at the airport to deal with the aftermath of their incompetence. Initially, there was NO ONE at the JetBlue ticket counter. Then there was one person, and finally two people. Two people to deal with 150 stranded travelers who had just spent the night at the airport.

5.) How did JetBlue handle those people? They blamed the weather, which, in their mind, absolves them of any responsibility, but then "graciously" agreed to refund the Portland to New York segment, plus offer a $100 travel certificate. They would not help anyone book on other airlines. They did not make any hotel arrangements or offer food vouchers. Keep in mind that the earliest they could offer me a flight was Saturday at midnight. I tried to call 10 hotels throughout Portland and all of them said the city was booked solid due to conventions and a big beer festival. That meant, if JetBlue had its way, I would have lived at the Portland airport from Wednesday night at 11:00 PM until Saturday midnight. That is what they offered me and all the other passengers.

A couple of absolutely true stories:

- The young woman in line behind me was from eastern Europe. She spoke decent English, but had NO idea what to do. Literally. She did not know how to get to New York. I told her that if she had a credit card, do whatever it takes to get on another flight and worry about the money later. I do not know what happened to her. For all I know, she is still there.

- Another woman was in tears because she was going to her mother's memorial service. Since I arrived home 14 hours late, I have no idea if she ever had the opportunity to say a last goodbye to her mom.

Nice work, JetBlue.

As I said to the two customer service reps on the phone today - I was a big JetBlue fan until 36 hours ago. They openly screwed me and the other passengers and made no apologies whatsoever. They are morally bankrupt and deserve fiscal bankruptcy as well. They try to tout themselves as a different kind of airline, and yet they resort to the identical behavior toward customers that has so soured people on the airline industry as a whole.

I plan to continue to pursue this through JetBlue's customer complaint desk. Depending on what happens, I am considering taking them to small claims court to recover the cost of the ticket I had to purchase to do what JetBlue promised but could not. Whatever the outcome of that, it will cost them a lot more to send lawyers to small claims court than it would to simply do the right thing and make me whole.

Stay tuned.

POST #4 - JetBlue - Part the Second

The plot thickens:

Scraping the JetBlue scum off my shoes...

So, my journey continues. After a sleepless night at the Portland airport, the JetBlue plane from New York finally landed and 4:45 AM. They let all the passengers off and as soon as I saw that, I took a couple of over-the-counter sleeping pills for my journey home.

JetBlue sucks

At 5:05 am, the pilot and co-pilot came out and told the now awake people in the gate area that, even though they (the pilot and co-pilot) were there and ready to fly, there was no crew so the flight was officially canceled.

I said "Wait a minute - we waited six hours and NOW you tell us there is no crew?"

Pilot: "I just found out myself."

Guy behind me: "Bullsh*t! That is total bullsh*t!"

Me: "I second that."

So all 150 of us head off in a stampede to the JetBlue ticket counter, where there is exactly one person. (I was a pretty respectable 10th in line.) Here's how it went:

Me: I'll take a flight to LaGuardia, JFK, Newark or Hartford.

Hapless JetBlue Guy: Sorry sir, I can only issue you a refund for your return flight and give you a $100 travel certificate.

Me: Book me on another airline.

Hapless JetBlue Guy: We don't have agreements with other airlines. We can not do that.

Me: Book me on another airline.

Hapless JetBlue Guy: Sir, you can say that as much as you want, but there is nothing I can do for you.

Me: If you were me, would you ever fly your sad excuse for an airline again?

Hapless JetBlue Guy: No, sir. This is terrible and I wish there were a manager here.

Then he informs me that if I can get to Seattle, I can take a flight from there. Or I can wait for the next available JetBlue flight from Portland, which will be Saturday at midnight. I almost hit him, but I felt I might start sobbing and thought that would be an incongruous image - me pummeling his face until he was black and JetBlue, Tony Soprano style, while I cried like a girl.

So, now I have my refund and my fabulous $100 flight voucher and I still am no closer to New York than I was six hours ago.

I call my amigo and work colleague Joe Eckert, who books me on a Delta flight through Detroit. Had to go first class and it cost me $1,000, but I need to get home. I go to Delta First Class check-in and wait about 15 minutes. They inform me that the first leg of my flight to Detroit is on Northwest, so I have to check in with them.

And since this skinny white boy from Connecticut booked a last-minute first class ticket, I was selected for additional screening at security. I had to go through one of those machines that blows air at you, while Timmy the TSA security guy (who is also the assistant night manager at the Portland Airport Denny's), swabs down my dirty laundry to make sure I did not smuggle any C4 in with my boxers. The experience was not unlike having JetBlue blow hot air at me. No. Wait. I'd rather submit to a full cavity search than fly JetBlue again.

So here I sit, waiting for my 8:30 AM flight from Portland to Detroit. If all goes according to plan, I will walk in my front door about 13 hours after I was supposed to, at 9:00 PM tonight. I have great confidence that all will NOT go according to plan, so expect a screed against Delta or Northwest during my layover in Detroit.

BTW - if you check the fine print of any airline ticket, you will find that, in fact, they are under no obligation to actually transport you to the local Starbucks, let alone to where it actually says on your ticket.

Mother f-ers.

POST #3 - JetBlue - The nightmare begins

This is my first blog post from July 24, 2008:

The filthy, lying, money-grubbing whores we call... the airline industry.

On Sunday, June 20, I had to fly from New York to Portland, OR, to attend the OSCON open source conference. My JetBlue flight was scheduled to board at 7:05 pm and depart at 7:35 pm. We boarded at 8:30. After we backed away from the gate the pilot came on and informed us that it would be at least two hours before we took off. It was actually three hours. As I see it, I was basically kidnapped. I was being held in a confined space, against my will, with absolutely no recourse whatsoever, other than risking arrest by federal authorities if I wanted to get off that plane. I did not consent to being detained, because I was not informed of the pending detainment until after it was too late for me to do anything about it.

Right now, as I write this, I am sitting at the Portland airport, trying to get home. My midnight red-eye flight was due to board at 11:35 PM.

It is now 12:45 AM PDT and my flight is scheduled to depart at 5:00 AM. Apparently, this is due to severe thunderstorms on the east coast, so the plane from New York departed five hours late.

If JetBlue was anything other than a third-rate bunch of liars, they would have found a plane from, say, Salt Lake or Los Angeles and made it available.

No way. The airline industry is running so lean and so bankrupt, that they honestly feel that they can rationalize a five hour delay on a red-eye flight because of thunderstorms.

They'll never acknowledge that they don't have enough planes. Nor will they admit that their route planners are morons. It's certainly not because they are trying really, really hard, but sometimes circumstances are beyond their control.

It is because they are thieves and liars. I do not know how JetBlue CEO David Barger looks himself in the mirror every day, but I am sure, deep down, he must be disgusted with himself, his crap airline and the decision he made to get into an industry that is, above all, morally bankrupt.

POST #2 - My history with JetBlue and why I set up this blog

I'm just a guy who flies when he has to. For the most part, I always believed JetBlue to be a cut above average airlines. They tout themselves as a different kind of airline and, for the most part, I believed it.

But I also believe part of providing great customer service is admitting when you are wrong.

My recent experience with JetBlue demonstrates that they like to talk the talk, but not walk the walk.

It all started with a business trip from New York City to Portland, OR. You can read all about what happened on my otherr blog -, or just read those posts reprinted on this blog.

Now, I am taking them to small claims court.


Because I can. And because they screwed up and refuse to admit it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

POST # 1 - Me versus JetBlue

This is where I will document my effort to "encourage" JetBlue Airways to treat me as a valued customer and not as a leper. You can read why I set up this blog on my other blog at I will re-post the whole story here shortly.