YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

JetBlue has refunds, free tickets for travelers stranded in storm

November 02, 2011|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • A JetBlue plane stranded on the tarmac in Hartford, Ct., last Saturday. The photo was taken by Erika Pesantes, a reporter from the South Florida Sun Sentinel, who was stuck on another flight at the same airport.
A JetBlue plane stranded on the tarmac in Hartford, Ct., last Saturday.… (Erika Pesantes / South Florida…)

Making up is hard to do — maybe even harder when you're an airline trying to make nice with 700 enraged passengers who sat in planes on the airport tarmac for seven hours during a snowstorm.

Passengers on six JetBlue flights last Saturday who were stranded on the tarmac at Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Conn., will receive a refund of their tickets and round-trip tickets for future travel, airline spokeswoman Sharon Jones said Wednesday.

Passengers on Flight 504 from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which garnered the most media attention — probably because of real-time cellphone and text appeals from passengers (and, it turns out, the pilot) for help — will receive refunds plus two round-trip tickets for a future flight; passengers on other flights will receive one round-trip ticket with their refunds.

And Chief Operating Officer Rob Maruster made a lengthy apology via video too.

Sound familiar? It should.

In 2007, JetBlue had a similar meltdown on Valentine's Day, of all days, because of snowstorms in New York. In one instance, passengers sat on the tarmac for 11 hours — a move that in part prompted the U.S. Department of Transportation to introduce the three-hour tarmac rule for airlines in 2009.

As a result of that debacle, JetBlue promised to pay out millions to appease customers who were inconvenienced and angered by the cancellation of an estimated 1,100 flights.

And, like now, then-Chief Executive Officer David Neeleman, JetBlue's founder, apologized. He was replaced as CEO in May 2007 over the fracas.

The DOT is investigating why JetBlue planes and one American Airlines flight were delayed so long on the tarmac in Hartford. The agency could fine the airlines up to $27,000 per passenger.

Los Angeles Times Articles