It is Sunday afternoon and I am sitting at the JFK airport waiting for a flight to Houston. We were originally booked on a flight to Austin scheduled to leave Friday night…so how did we end-up at the JFK airport on a Sunday afternoon flying to a different city?
I’ll start by saying that I’ve always liked jetBlue as an airline, they have great planes, friendly staff, power at every seat and live television on every flight. However this time around it is clear to me that somewhere along the road jetBlue has lost it’s ability to schedule and communicate flight information and operate flights in the same way that Delta, American Airlines and many others do.
It all started on Friday afternoon in Milan, Italy. We boarded an Emirates flight at 3:00PM and made the close to nine-hour journey across the Atlantic to New York City. We were supposed to quickly change planes at JFK on a flight leaving for Austin at 9:00PM.
Everything went smoothly, no long lines at customs and my bag was one of the first into baggage claim. As we made our way to catch our flight to Austin we looked at the board:
My heart sank, I knew that 9:00PM was the last flight to Austin, we were going to have to spend the night at an airport hotel. I went to the counter and they told me that Austin wasn’t allowing any flights in because of weather so we weren’t alone.
That’s when I got a text from a friend, he was also on a flight going from JFK to Austin that night, except on Delta airlines. His flight did leave that night, all flights to Austin were not canceled and he made it home safe and sound Friday night. The agent at jetBlue told me that they couldn’t get us on any flights to Austin until Sunday but they could put us on a flight to Houston scheduled to leave Saturday afternoon so we took what we could get.
I asked if jetBlue would cover the cost of a hotel at the airport but they said there was nothing they could do. So we made our way to a nearby airport hotel and went to sleep. In the morning at our hotel we bumped-into some flight attendants from jetBlue, they said they were on the Austin flight and the plane had just been upgraded to an A321 which has 50 more seats than the previous flight.
Excited at the chance to fly-into Austin instead of Houston we went to the jetBlue help desk and they were able to get us on a flight to Austin scheduled to leave at 12:30PM on Saturday, it had been delayed until 1:45PM but they assured us that the plane was there and that we were in good shape.
So we made our way through JFK security again and headed to our gate. Sitting at the gate was a beautiful brand-new A321, life was good, we were finally going to get back to Austin. I looked at the Austin airport arrivals and saw planes from all over the US landing there, checked the weather, warm and sunny.
We boarded the flight, sat in our seats, turned on the TV and smiled – we were going home! Then we noticed that everyone was on the plane but they still hadn’t closed the doors. About fifteen minutes passed and the captain announced that Austin’s air traffic control tower was damaged in the flood and it was taking longer to get flights into the airport, he said we’d have an update in 20-30 minutes.
About 20 minutes later they told us the delay could be more than 30 minutes so we were welcome to get off the airplane and walk around. We got up, got our bags and headed to a nearby restaurant. It was there that we sat for two hours as they continued to announce that the flight was still scheduled to leave but the delay would continue.
Then the moment came,
we are sorry to announce that the flight to Austin has been canceled
My heart sank again, since the whole day had passed us by getting on and off that flight, we had missed all the other flights out to Texas. I spoke to several other friends who were flying to Austin on Saturday, their flights all landed fine but they were on airlines like American and Delta…what was going on with jetBlue?
I explained our situation to a gate agent, still there was nothing they could do, and once again they could not cover our stay in New York. Once again we couldn’t get onto an Austin flight so we picked the earliest flight to Houston they could get us on, Sunday at 2:16PM.
Which brings us to now, it is 1:20PM and our flight boards in 20 minutes going to Houston. Unfortunately there’s a huge storm in Houston and flooding is expected so it looks like it might not be safe to drive to Austin, which means we’ll be stuck in Houston and the nightmare continues.
The issue here to me clearly has to do with jetBlue, not weather in Austin, or Austin’s air traffic control tower since flights from other airlines are making their way in and out of the airport. My question is, how could this happen and why isn’t the airline doing more to help their customers?
I can tell you that I’m sticking with American, Delta, Southwest and all the other airlines I see filling up the “Arrival” screen at Austin, there’s something not right at jetBlue and hopefully sharing my story can help get to the bottom of it.