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.

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