JetBlue cancellations strands thousands in New York

Summary:Trying to fly out of New York these last few days has been a hellish experience.  JetBlue was hit especially hard and they ended up cancelling dozens of flights on Wednesday and Thursday and I was one of the unfortunate flyers that were stuck in New York after covering the Digital Experience event Wednesday night.

Trying to fly out of New York these last few days has been a hellish experience.  JetBlue was hit especially hard and they ended up cancelling dozens of flights on Wednesday and Thursday and I was one of the unfortunate flyers that were stuck in New York after covering the Digital Experience event Wednesday night.  The cancellations started late Tuesday and hundreds maybe thousands are still stranded at JFK and LGA airports.  The most frustrating part was that JetBlue refused to notify people the flights were cancelled until 2 hours before departure and we were told that it was due to weather when some flights were taking off and the weather looked fine.  JetBlue was hit so badly in February with cancellations that their brand and stocks took a major hit and their CEO and founder was forced to step down in May.

Judging by all the cancellations and the utter lack of communications and poor customer service, it appears that JetBlue has not fixed any of their problems.  A woman next to me in line had booked her seat 2.5 hours with ticket in hand before her 5:30PM flight on Thursday only to find out from the on-screen schedule that her flight was cancelled.  Others had been waiting since Wednesday and they're still there today on Friday wondering when they're going to get home.  I was suppose to fly out on Thursday afternoon from JFK to SFO and I wasn't going to get a confirmed seat until Saturday night and it wasn't necessarily to SFO where my car is sitting.  I got a little creative and looked up a flight on Expedia and found a flight with US Airways from LGA to SFO for 6:45 AM Friday morning and immediately ordered it while I stood in the motionless customer no-service line for JetBlue.  Getting online using JetBlue's Wi-Fi wasn't simple either since everyone was getting dropped every 30 seconds if they were lucky to even get connected so it appeared that JetBlue's Wi-Fi network was about as reliable as JetBlue's flight schedule.  Two other passengers took my lead and the three of us took a quick cab ride to La Guardia airport.

Once we got to LGA, we found out that the US Airways flight we wanted was one of the 2 flights that was cancelled due to the fact that the airplane had not arrived the night before.  I knew this was a risk but it was worth taking because at least I could work within the United Airlines, US Airways, and American Airlines pool of available flights rather than dealing with JetBlue which has very few flights to begin with most of which had been cancelled.  JetBlue also doesn't partner with anyone else and they won't even help you schedule another airline let alone pay for it.  By 4:00 AM when the US Airways counter at LGA had opened, I got some outstanding help from Ingrid and Lennie.  Now I'm hoping I'll be home by 9:30 PM and maybe 6:00 PM if I'm really lucky while I write this story at the Gate waiting for my flight.  That means I will have spent 30 hours traveling but I'm glad I'm not stuck in New York until Saturday night.

The Sun Sentinel had this story about a man's 2 hour journey ending up to be a 25 hour nightmare but that actually wasn't that bad compared to my situation.  I was with a lady named Carol who will end up doing a 44 hour journey that ended in 100 miles from her original destination.  Carol was delayed in Oakland for 2 hours because of "computer issues" which caused her to miss her connecting flight at 7 AM Thursday morning.  Her 10:00 AM JetBlue flight was cancelled and so was the 1:00 PM flight.  The 4:45 PM flight was delayed to 11:45 PM but poor Carol wasn't able to get on that plane because hundreds of other passengers were desperate to get on the plane.  Thousands waited over night at JFK and many are still waiting there now.  You can forget about getting a blanket or a cot much less a hotel room since JetBlue declared all the cancellations a victim of poor weather while the sun shined on us while we stood in hours of lines.  This was my first (and last) time I will fly with JetBlue.

UPDATE 9:00 PM PST - I finally got home after traveling for 33 hours.

Topics: Travel Tech, Wi-Fi

About

George Ou, a former ZDNet blogger, is an IT consultant specializing in Servers, Microsoft, Cisco, Switches, Routers, Firewalls, IDS, VPN, Wireless LAN, Security, and IT infrastructure and architecture.

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