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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Jet Blue's Passenger Bill of Rights

Jet Blue has today announced it's own voluntary passenger bill of rights (PBOR) - which will be highlighted prominently on its website (at least for now). Further they have decided to apply it retrospectively to those affected by delays last week.

The details are:

Cancellations

  • Passengers have the choice of full refund or put on alternative Jet Blue flights at no cost.
  • If cancelled at less than 12 hours notice due to Controllable Irregularity (whatever that means as it isnt defined in the PBOR), passengers will also get a Jet Blue voucher for the fare paid.

Is this on top of the full refund/rebooking?

Delays

If Controllable Irregularity (that term again), then delay of:

  • 1-2 hours = $25 Jet Blue voucher
  • 2-4 hours = $50 Jet Blue voucher
  • 4-6 hours = Jet Blue voucher for the fare paid (one way)
  • 6+ hours = Jet Blue voucher for the fare paid (round trip)

Involuntary Denied Boarding

$1000 if the result of overbooking.

Ground Delays

Once passengers spend 5 hours onboard Jet Blue will deplane.

Ground delays of:

  • 30-60 minutes on arrival = $25 Jet Blue voucher
  • 1-2 hours on arrival = $100 Jet Blue voucher
  • 2-3 hours on arrival = Jet Blue voucher for fare paid (one way)
  • 4+ hours on arrival = Jet Blue voucher for fare paid (round trip)
  • 3-4 hours on departure = $100 Jet Blue voucher
  • 4+ hours on departure = Jet Blue voucher for fare paid (round trip)

Contract of Carriage

Jet Blue intends to incorporate their PBOR into their contract of carriage.

My comments

It is a start and by putting it into the contract of carriage it will have binding impact (at least until contract of carriage wording is changed). That is good.

Not so good the unequal treatment of delays on departure and arrival - what were they thinking? Apart from involuntary denied boarding (IDB) the compensation is wholly in vouchers, which effectively devalues it significantly and imposes a lesser penalty on itself than cold hard cash would do.

Thirdly, the longer delays providing compensation in the amount of one-way vs round-trip fare is odd - not everyone travels round trips any more and some fares could be ridiculously low. How will someone on a say $80 fare feel being given a voucher for $80 after a 5 hour delay? Not happy I would guess.

It will be interesting to see the reactions to this airline PBOR.

2 comments:

Tad said...

The Jet Blue Passenger Bill of Rights is in need of a few amendments.

On Saturday, March 3, 2007 I was booked on a Jet Blue flight from Jacksonville, FL through NY (JFK) to Washington (Dulles). The aircraft to take us from JAX to JFK was delayed to an extent that the connection to Dulles would not be possible. I was offered a “full refund” by the gate agent and was able to book a one way ticket on US Airways (ironically, a slight delay on that flight enabled me to secure a seat to National airport).

The gate agent assured me that I would receive a “FULL REFUND” for my ticket so I had no worries about paying a higher fair on US Airways. The gate agent said she would make a note on my reservation but that I’d have to call Jet Blue to complete the refund process.

Today, March 5, 2007, I called Jet Blue with less than stellar results.

The first customer service representative I spoke to, “Kim” said she’d have to speak to her supervisor (after placing me on hold for an extended period of time, of course) before telling me that Jet Blue would refund $76.00 of my $279.60 fare and place the balance ($203.60) back in my Jet Blue account as a “credit.”

Here’s the kicker: part of my fare was paid for by a “credit” that had been on my account (for almost a year, apparently, as it was due to “expire” on March 17, 2007). THAT is why I as adamant with the gate agent that a “FULL REFUND” be forthcoming…I needed the money to cover the cost of the one way ticket to DC (and the subsequent return flight).

I asked to speak to Kim’s supervisor and was passed over to “Jalee.” Jalee refused to refund the full cost of my fare indicating that the gate agent was “mistaken” and “uninformed” about Jet Blue refund policies. Jalee went on to argue that the “credit” in my account was not really my money; Jet Blue’s terms clearly pointed out cancellations were to be credited rather than refunded. No common sense argument I made could enable her to grasp the concept that the “credit” was actually MY “money” that had been billed to and paid by me in times past. Furthermore, the fact that I relied on the representations made by the gate agent in order to be assured that I could pay my fare on US Airways seemed to be non-persuasive. She was stout in her position. I asked to speak to her supervisor. Jalee assured me that she had already spoken to her supervisor and I would receive the same response. I assured her that I’d like the opportunity to argue my case for myself. Back on hold I went.

A few minutes later I was passed to “Joe” (a lady person). Joe said she was “a supervisor.” I asked, “Are you Jalee’s supervisor or just ‘a’ supervisor?” After some ridiculous back and forth, Joe admitted that she was merely one of Jalee’s colleagues. I asked, again, to speak to Jalee’s supervisor (after explaining, again, that I fully understood and appreciated that Jalee/Joe were of similar mind in the decision about authorizing a refund, in toto, for my fare). Joe assured me that they were completely authorized to make such a decision. I explained, again, that what I needed was not the decision but for the decision to be reversed. This seemed to confuse her greatly and I asked to speak to her supervisor at which point I was informed that “people above us do not take personal phone calls.”

I explained to Joe that this call was nothing personal; it was business. And, I went on, as a Jet Blue customer (even a True Blue frequent flyer) I had a right to appeal the decision up the corporate chain of command. She assured me that I have no such right, repeating, in case she was speaking to a moron, one supposes, “people above me do not take phone calls.”

I was reminded of recent Jet Blue “unpleasantries” and went back to review the written salve put forth by Jet Blue to “protect” their customers. I was also reminded of how some industry analysts fawned over CEO David Neeleman’s quick and decisive response to their public relations disaster.

I am now fully cognizant of the following:

The much ballyhooed Jet Blue Passenger Bill of Rights does NOT contain anything about delays that cause a passenger to miss a connection.

The much ballyhooed Jet Blue Passenger Bill of Rights does NOT say, “You can rely on what you’re told by our employees when making alternative plans due to our inability to meet our commitments to you.”

The much ballyhooed Jet Blue Passenger Bill of Rights does NOT provide any sort of passenger complaint escalation clause(s).

The much ballyhooed Jet Blue Passenger Bill of Rights does not contain the email address, business phone, or HOME phone for Mr. David Neeleman, self-described traveler’s Champion.

Give me a break.

The Global Traveller said...

Sorry to read of your experience. This reminds me it is so important to get in writing any offers made. I know of several other people who've been verbally offered something acceptable in a voluntary denied boarding situation only to later get something of lesser value that was unacceptable to them.

A verbal offer isn't worth anything. At least ask for a copy of the notes they enter recording the promise made, while you are still on the spot before heading off to make new arrangements. If the agent is unwilling to provide written evidence then consider whether you really want to take up their offer.