web Musings of The Global Traveller

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Jet Blue and Controllable Irregularities

Jet Blue has succumbed to the complaints about a meaningless term (eg my earlier post, over at Upgrade: Travel Better, etc) and has now defined Controllable Irregularities (thanks to Flight Wisdom for this news).

From the Jet Blue contract of carriage:

Controllable Irregularity as used in Section 36, means a delay, cancellation, or
diversion that is not caused by Force Majeure Event. For the sake of clarity, if
in a chain of multiple events, the original irregularity is due to a Force
Majeure Event, the cause of the subsequent event(s) reasonably related to the
original irregularity shall be deemed an Uncontrollable Irregularity.

Force Majeur Event mean an event(s) outside of Jet Blue's
reasonable contol and includes, but is not limited to, weather conditions; acts
of government or airport authorities (eg Air Traffic Control Delays, runway
closures, airport construction); acts of God; US military or airlift emergency
or substantially expanded US military airlift requirements, as determined by the
US government; grounding of a substantial number of aircraft as a result of
activation of the US Civil Reserve Air Fleet; strikes or labor unrest; civil
commotions, embargoes, wars or other hostilities, whether actual, threatened or
reported; government regulation, demand or requirement; damage to aircraft
caused by a third party; emergency situation requiring care, protection or
response to protect person or property or any event that is not reasonably
foreseen, predicted or anticipated by Jet Blue.

So let's see how the incident that prompted Jet Blue to draw up their Passenger Bill of Rights (PBOR) would fare. Gosh it was originally caused by bad weather therefore no liability. Indeed I am struggling to think of many situations where Jet Blue couldn't use the chain of events get out of jail free clause.

I can see the chain of events potentially being misused. For example suppose bad weather 2 days ago so messed up the schedules with aircraft in the wrong places and crew hours affected. Even though the weather today is fine, there may still be knock-on impacts. Some of these may have been avoidable, in the eyes of the consumer, by for example having more back-up crew.

How any one would think this puffery is enough to stop calls for regulation is beyond me.

Edited (thanks to Cranky Flier). Jet Blue has made a significant improvement on their first version. Now Controllable Irregularities applies to cancellations and departure delays before push-back from the gate. All other delays are subject to compensation regardless of cause. That is good news and gives the PBOR the teeth it needed, although the different treatment of departure delays and ground delays on departure does give an odd incentive for Jet Blue to delay pushing back.

Jet Blue have also clarified that refunds exclude taxes and fees, and the same applies to vouchers offered for compensation to the value of the fare for the longer delays. Boo.


The CF said...

That's not true. The Controllable Irregularity clause only applies to cancellations and departure delays. All ground delays (whether after pushback on departure or before reaching the gate on arrival) receive compensation regardless of the the cause. So all of those people stuck on planes for extended periods of time on Valentine's Day would have been compensated.

The Global Traveller said...


On re-reading I agree the incident would be included. However I notice there is also a distinction between departure delays post push-back and before push-back.

So a long taxi or de-icing process is not subject to Controllable Irregularities. Then again, those delays need to be at least 3 hours to be compensated.