Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ooops: United Airlines Screws the Pooch

United Airlines is well-known for being a bunch of scum-bags. There is an entire web site devoted to the topic -

Well, United messed with the wrong troubadour. They destroyed his guitar, so he wrote a song and put a video on YouTube that now has a half-million views in two days.

Take that, airline vermin!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Nothing new here. Sorry.

For some reason, this blog has been seeing increased traffic of late. No idea why.

I sort of lost interest in railing against the airline industry and JetBlue in particular, after I opened up a can of whoop-ass on JetBlue in open court and won my lawsuit.

But who knows - maybe the summer travel season will bring tales of airline horrors just dying for the cleansing light of day.

Stay tuned.

In the meantime, feel free to mozy on over to my regular blog, where I rail about everything else in the world.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Well, at least the airlines aren't feeding us anymore...

United Airlines tells fat passengers to buy a second seat, joining other major carriers.

Now, what do we do about the guy with smelly feet who takes his shoes off for the flight, or the woman who took a bath in "Glow by JLo" perfume before boarding?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Does JetBlue offer beverage and snack service in the cargo hold?

A JetBlue employee fell asleep in the cargo hold and got a free ride.

I should have asked JetBlue if they allow paying customers to hitch a ride in the cargo hold. It certainly would have gotten me home faster than what JetBlue was proposing in the main cabin.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Pay toliets: It was just a matter of time

Fun news out of Ireland today about pay toilets on airplanes. Head on over to my other blog for details.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

JetBlue: If you lose your job, we'll give you your money back

JetBlue has announced a program where it will refund your money for a ticket if you lose your job.

According to the Wall Street Journal, there are lots of hoops you'd have to jump through (no surprise there), but I'm left to ask:

- Why is it that JetBlue will offer refunds when the cancellation is not its fault, but when I miss a full day of work and have to pay my own way to get home because of JetBlue, I have to take the company to court to get it to do what's right?

I agree with Matt Phillips on the Wall Street Journal's travel blog: Smells like a publicity stunt to me.

If, however, anyone does take advantage of this, I would be more than happy to talk about it here (though I would be sorry to hear about someone losing their job.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

How NOT to react to a missed or canceled flight

For the record - I do not speak Cantonese and I am not a woman.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Airlines rules: Talk about gaming the system

In case you missed it, check out yesterday's "Middle Seat" Column in the Wall Street Journal.

Scott McCartney talks about airline rules, the Contracts of Carriage and how crazy the whole system is. Amen.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Check arrived!

My check from JetBlue arrived. I will deposit it and when it clears, write out a check for the same amount to my local animal shelter. (FYI - animal shelters are hurting these days. More pets are coming in as people run into tough economic times and, of course, donations are down.)

Click on the images of the check and the accompanying letter if you are curious.

What's next for this blog? Not sure.

I am going to back off JetBlue. Even though I am not whole (the judge ordered payment less than my out-of-pocket for the replacement ticket), me and JetBlue are square. The court spoke and JetBlue made good on its obligation. (If only JetBlue had seen their way to do this five months ago, without the blog and the lawsuit.)

But the airline industry still needs fixing if something like this can happen. Airlines should not be able to get away selling product they can't deliver without some kind of recourse. The Contracts of Carriage let them off the hook for most things. We agree to a devil's bargain, which is, we agree to their draconian terms and then cross our fingers. Congress and the FAA are the enablers.

But, as I have stated on this blog, we are not blameless. If we expect to pay $300 to fly across the country and back, we'll never win because the airlines will never make money. Airlines are businesses (although, since deregulation, they have been pretty lousy businesses.) They should be able to make money.

I proposed on this blog that Congress re-regulate the airlines as if they were a public utility, like electricity. The airlines are guaranteed a steady, if modest profit and we are guaranteed that some sort of civility will be restored to air travel. Sure it will cost more to fly, but we get what we pay for. As I said in the post below, take a train. Or just stay home.

So, as time permits, I'll comment on interesting airline industry goings-on. Or maybe I'll do that over on my main blog at

We'll see.

Wow! Who knew how pissed people are...

Actually, we all knew when it comes to airlines.

Lots of folks have found this blog since yesterday afternoon when Barbara Peterson posted her article over on the The Daily Traveler.

Further, I have received a bunch of emails from people who think that I can somehow help them with their airline gripes.

I also went back and looked at old emails in the Gmail account attached to this blog (which, admittedly, I don't really check all that often) and quite a few people have asked me for help. (Except for the ones that have called me "bitter" and "whacked out.")

Keep in mind that I am just a guy who got tired of being abused by the airlines and this incident with JetBlue was the last straw. I took them to small claims court, won and blogged about it. That's it. I have no wisdom or special expertise in aviation rules or contract law.

So, to everyone who emailed me, if you are looking for advice, here ya go:

1. If an airline screws you, do something about it. Take them to small claims court, start a blog, contact your congressman, picket the airline's headquarters, discover a new virus and name it after the airline. Whatever. Just do SOMETHING. The airlines will get away with whatever they can for as long as they can, as long as we let them.

2. Don't expect ANYONE to do ANYTHING for you. Especially customer service people at the airlines.

3. Don't abuse rank-and-file airline employees. They are just following orders. The problem with the airline industry is much bigger than any employee.

4. Tell people about this and other blogs that track airline misbehavior.

5. Take a train.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Interesting article over at Conde Nast web site featuring... this blog!

Travel author and journalist Barbara Peterson has posted an article over at The Daily Traveler on Conde Nast's Concierge web site about the possibility of suing airlines. (Something this blog touched on as well). Actually, it is a reality check on how likely it is that Congress will make it easier to sue the airlines.

Her take: Not very likely. I agree. Congress is in the tank for the airlines. How else could the airlines create "Contracts of Carriage" that basically say that they have no obligation to carry you anywhere?

It is worth a read, if for no other reason that Ms. Peterson chose to make this blog the banner link at the top of her story!

Also worth noting is that she has written a book about... JetBlue!

JetBlue Reports Fourth Quarter Loss

JetBlue announced its year-end results today. AP story here.

Please remember that "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."

Also keep in mind that the press release...

"...contains statements of a forward-looking nature which represent our management's beliefs and assumptions concerning future events. Forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions, and are based on information currently available to us. Actual results may differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements due to many factors, including, without limitation, our extremely competitive industry; increases in fuel prices, maintenance costs and interest rates; our ability to implement our growth strategy, including the ability to operate reliably the EMBRAER 190 aircraft and our new terminal at JFK; our significant fixed obligations; our ability to attract and retain qualified personnel and maintain our culture as we grow; our reliance on high daily aircraft utilization; our dependence on the New York metropolitan market and the effect of increased congestion in this market; our reliance on automated systems and technology; our being subject to potential unionization; our reliance on a limited number of suppliers; changes in or additional government regulation; changes in our industry due to other airlines' financial condition; and external geopolitical events and conditions. Further information concerning these and other factors is contained in the Company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings, including but not limited to, the Company's 2007 Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q. We undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances that may arise after the date of this release."

Happy Jetting!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

JetBlue prez meets President Obama

It looks the CEO of JetBlue got to meet with President Obama today. JetBlue and the other airlines made the case for an upgraded air traffic control system in this country.

We can't argue with that.

Keep in mind, however, that every time the airlines want to duck their responsibility to their customers, they invoke "ATC" and they are off the hook for everything. So we're left to wonder who will be the fallback, catchall scapegoat for the airline industry once ATC can no longer be blamed for everything from weather to "we forgot to load the half-and-half on the coffee cart."

Also, it just galls me that in every f-ing press release, JetBlue brags about its lame f-ing "Customer Bill of Rights":

"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.

If by meaningful, JetBlue means "Tough sh*t. You're not going anywhere. And we MEAN that!" - well, then yes.

And except if the disruptions that are within JetBlue's control include having a crew available to staff the flight that you booked and paid for in advance.

Take it from me: Customers on JetBlue have no rights if JetBlue decides it wants to strand you.

Unless you sue them. As I did. And win. As I did. Then, you have some rights.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

No, I have not yet received a check from JetBlue

I have received emails asking if JetBlue has paid up since losing to me in court two weeks ago.

The answer is "no".

JetBlue has until March 15, so plenty of time.

I have also been asked what I will do if JetBlue does not pay. The truth is, I haven't given it much thought. It never occurred to me that a major corporation that values its reputation the way JetBlue does would even consider NOT paying what it legally owes me.

So, a better question might be - what do I plan to do AFTER JetBlue pays?

Once I donate the proceeds to charity (as previously promised), I have to decide what to do about this blog. At a certain point, JetBlue may deserve to be let off the hook.

I might give it some time and just pull this blog down after a spell. We'll see.

But the countdown to payday continues and this blog will certainly remain until that check clears.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Do they show "Titanic" on cruise ships?

One of the reasons I used to love JetBlue so much (this was JetBlue B.H.M. - Before Hosing Me) was the inflight satellite TV. It's really good. (Not better than getting to my destination within a few days of the day and time on the ticket, but good nonetheless.)

Kudos to JetBlue for not censoring content in any way, as clearly illustrated by this YouTube video:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Somebodyelse's JetBlue Lawsuit

Here's a strange little ditty out of Pittsburgh where a Delta flight attendant is suing JetBlue and Delta for alleged harassment.

In fairness to JetBlue - if this turns out to be true, it is more indicative of one employee's bad manners (behavior, judgment, upbringing) than it is of JetBlue policy.

That is in contrast to my situation, where JetBlue deems it an acceptable business practice to strand paying customers 3,000 miles from home for three days without any options other than living in the airport. That seems more of a company-wide policy, as enshrined in its vaunted "Contract of Carriage". Or at least, that's what every JetBlue employee I had contact with said to me when they told me that, in essence, is what I agreed to when I bought my ticket on JetBlue. (Lord knows I won't ever make THAT mistake again.)

So, let's cut JetBlue some slack on this one until the outcome of the lawsuit is known.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My win against JetBlue is getting noticed

Take a look at Tom Johansmeyer's blog post about my win against JetBlue in court. Seems that Tom also had a beef with JetBlue.

My friend and creative branding agency guru Darryl Ohrt also took notice on his popular blog

I have to say that even people I know who LOVE JetBlue (and I know a few -like Darryl, for example. In fact, I used to be one of them) are sending me kudos. It is indicative of a public that is fed up with an airline industry that has utterly abdicated its commitment to customer service.

The airline industry lobbies Congress so that the FAA can approve their Contracts of Carriage that let them (the airlines) get away with... anything the airlines want to get away with and then argue "...but you AGREED to that when you bought the ticket."

Well, guess what? A court disagrees with you JetBlue.

By the way - I am well aware that I am not the first person to sue an airline in small claims court and win. I am not breaking any ground here. Stories abound of people winning and then trying to collect their claim from the airlines.

The difference is - I chose to blog about it.

As I said in my previous post - I am confident that JetBlue will promptly send what it now LEGALLY owes me. (Since JetBlue is all about obeying the law regarding timed-out flight crews and its Contract of Carriage, I am sure it understands its legal obligation here.)

JetBlue has until March 15, 2009 to pay up. When they do, I will be sure to post it here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I win, JetBlue loses!

Call me the Clarence Darrow of airline litigation. It appears that the judge was moved by my argument in court yesterday and has awarded me $494.00 in my suit against JetBlue!

It is less than my claim, but I think he deducted the travel vouchers that JetBlue emailed me (which I printed out, shredded and used as kitty-litter).

As stated before, I plan to donate the money to charity.

Let the word ring forth from this time and place: Ask not how airlines can screw you; Ask how you can screw the airlines back!

They can not sell tickets and then strand customers in airports with no food, shelter or clothing (actually, I'm pretty sure the airlines are not responsible for clothing us) for three days and get away with it.

Tell your friends! Tell your families! Tell your pets!

I trust that JetBlue will abide by the law and send me what it owes me. I'll let you all know when I get the check.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My JetBlue Lawsuit: Fiat justitia ruat caelum

I was in court. JetBlue was there too.

I argued my case. JetBlue argued its case.

Out of respect for the legal process (in which I firmly believe) and the JetBlue employee who came to court (who did her job), I am going to withhold comment until I receive the verdict in the mail. I have no idea when that will happen.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Winter In Connecticut with JetBlue: Could be romantic!

When the Connecticut Superior Court set my small claims hearing date with JetBlue for January 15, I imagined a cold, gray day.

I did not imagine the zero degree temperatures and 3-6 inches of snow predicted for tomorrow. How wonderful!

Just as I naively believed that JetBlue would have attempted to do the humane thing and the right thing by me, I also naively cling to the notion that JetBlue will send its lawyers to Connecticut tomorrow.

I suspect that JetBlue will blow it off, but who knows. JetBlue may have treated me badly, but I certainly like to think the folks there are a law-abiding bunch of chaps (and chap-ettes.)

I'll report back here tomorrow, either way.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

JetBlue Lawsuit: Judgement Day is coming, one way or another

With two days to go before I go to small claims court against JetBlue, there is an interesting article in today's Wall Street Journal - Flight Delays Could Results in Lawsuits.

Basically, it says that passengers may get the right to sue if we are left sitting on the runway for excessive periods of time. It cites the now legendary JetBlue Valentine's Day Massacre of 2007 when JetBlue held people on a plane in New York for more than 10 hours.

That led to JetBlue CEO and founder David Neeleman stepping down and JetBlue to engage in an all-out marketing frenzy to appear to be a more humane sort of airline.

Of course, as I know well, JetBlue does a nice job of putting a thin blue veneer of customer satisfaction over standard and abusive airline-industry practices. In my case (for those of you reading this blog for the first time), JetBlue delayed my red-eye flight from Portland, Oregon, to New York for five hours and THEN announced the flight was cancelled. The best it could offer me and my fellow passengers was a flight out on JetBlue three days later. No meals, no hotels, no earlier flight on JetBlue, no flight on another airline.

I maintain that in spite of JetBlue's Contract of Carriage (which JetBlue employees cited chapter and verse when talking to me), this was a violation of JetBlue's contract with me. I maintain that when you sell a product, in advance, to a consumer (in this case, a seat on an airplane to get you from Point A to Point B) there should be some obligation on the part of the airline to adequately staff and support that product.

JetBlue had no crew - FOR THREE DAYS - to fly 150 people back to New York. Further, it had only one (eventually two) ticket agents to deal with all those people in Portland and it made no effort whatsoever to accommodate those people in any sort of "humane" fashion.

The woman behind me in line was from another country and had no idea what to do or how to get to New York. The woman behind her was heading to her mother's funeral. I have no idea if she made it, but I would be willing to bet if she did, it was not on JetBlue and at considerable expense on another airline.

As I have said from the beginning - JetBlue can hide behind what it is legally entitled to do under its Contract of Carriage. But If it wants to market itself as a more humane kind of airline, JetBlue better be prepared for people like me to call them on it.

JetBlue: Sometimes what is legal is not what is RIGHT. When you get that through your thick, blue skulls, you really will be the airline you think you are.

And if the courts can help you get the message, well, then, God Bless America.