Disaster at JFK
(4 of Jetblue’s 6 baggage carousels were like this at JFK today…a baggage wasteland)
I had a fun full day at JFK airport today courtesy of Jetblue and the winter storm from yesterday. In the past I’ve been a Jetblue champion, often bragging about it to people as the best airline to fly. It has great fares (I can get to Columbus for $80 round trip), is usually on time, and of course it has live tv in every seat. But today I saw a different side of the Jetblue experience, complete chaos.
JFK was complete anarchy. There were people everywhere. People sleeping on the floor. People in every corner, seat, table, even the restrooms were filled to capacity.
There was little hope, if you were in the lucky minority, of even making your way to your gate for departure without being bumped around or stepping on sleeping, waiting passengers. I’ve really never seen anything like it. It seems that Jetblue after being backed up in yesterdays storm completely collapsed.
My biggest complaint in this whole scenario was their flight status system. I understand they are backed up, and even though I don’t like it, I would’ve been OK knowing my flight was cancelled this morning. The problem is, I didn’t know. According to their website my flight was not only still flying, but it was on time. Now I didn’t really believe it, but I didn’t want to risk missing my flight, so I went to the airport. Even after checking in, my flight was still listed as on time. It wasn’t until we were scheduled to board did they mention our flight had been delayed by 3 hours. Now call me crazy, but isn’t the point of the flight status (and presumably the technology investment behind it) to let people know AHEAD of time or PRIOR to arriving at the airport whether or not their flight was on time? If my flight was delayed 3 hours, didn’t they know umm 3 hours prior to departure that my flight was going to be delayed?
Ultimately after 3 hours of waiting for my flight was cancelled. Instead of letting me know, and keeping me fairly happy at home they let me spend $50 on a cab and come in to an already overcrowded airport with NO place to sit (even on the floor). By at least communicating the truth to me, they could’ve made the situation easier by telling me to stay away from JFK. They didn’t.
After my flight was cancelled, I had to go down to the baggage claim area, now known as the Jungle and wait another hour for my bag. It was not clear where or when my bags would show up because there were no announcements and even the nice Jetblue staff on hand were able to answer my questions. All I knew I was not leaving without my bag, because I knew I would never see it again.
I still love Jetblue as an airline, but they really need to get their act together, make this right for EVERYONE involved (everyone thinks they are the ones getting screwed), and make sure it never happens again. It’s clear to me that this situation was never planned for, and they are scrambling to fix things the best they can. Their employees were incredibly nice, and obviously overwhelmed. I was told that the only thing I could do was to call into their customer service center at 1800Jetblue. I called that number, and “due to high call volume, they can’t handle my call at this time.” Another screw up.
I also think the flight status system needs to mean something from now on. For now, I will not trust Jetblue’s flight status until they prove to me it’s accurate.
This is going to really be painful and costly for them to overcome. As one former customer interviewed by CNBC at JFK on Thursday said, “I’ve had many good experiences with this airline, but this one is bad enough that I’ll never fly them again.”
UPDATE 6pm EST: Jetblue’s 800 number is still down and I’m unable to get a hold of anyone.
More Jetblue links: