THE BLOG
07/19/2012 08:55 am ET | Updated Sep 18, 2012

JetBlue Cancellations Ruined My Vacation Before It Started: Here's What Would Have Fixed It

I apologize in advance if this comes off as an angry rant, that's the coffee talking. Then again, I wouldn't be up at 4 a.m. going strong on four cups were it not for JetBlue.

When JetBlue cancelled my flight yesterday, and I watched my friends take off for Las Vegas on their similarly scheduled Delta flight, I went through the normal stages of travel frustration: anger, disbelief, bargaining and finally acceptance that my plans would have to change and a portion of the money I was spending would go to waste.

I kept my cool in the end, chose the path of wu wei and calmly called their 800 number since the line to speak with an actual JetBlue employee at the terminal was far too long. I waited my 20 minutes on the phone only to lose the call. Before I could try back, I received an email saying my flight had been cancelled (only an hour before it was supposed to take off) and that a replacement flight was booked for 9 p.m. The next day.

Then I got a call telling me the flight was cancelled -- though JetBlue wouldn't tell me why. I was able to speak to a representative quickly. In all fairness, she was wonderful and even helped me book something as soon as possible, rerouting me through Boston to get me to Nevada before noon the next day.

Seemed fine. Yay, the patience worked with only minor inconvenience.

Not so fast.

Here I sit at 4 a.m. Having just discovered that my resecheduled flight was delayed and won't make it in time for the connection. After another hour on the phone, I'm heading out at 2:40 p.m. a day later than planned, having lost a bunch of cash and sleep for nothing. Fingers crossed.

But like I said, I don't want this to be a rant (too late, right?). Something productive must come of it.

So as I've gone through this today, there have been a few things I've noticed could have avoided a boatload of problems. This is what could have been done to make my life (and probably a few others) that much easier:

1) Rebooking selection - Don't tell me what flight I've been rescheduled on, give me a choice. Seeing 9 p.m. just makes me mad, especially after I found out there were alternatives. If it's that easy for your people to change flights chances are I can do it myself online.

2) Screw me once, it happens. Screw me twice, you've lost a customer - Needless to say I'm not flying JetBlue again (unless it's a stupidly good deal), but this didn't have to be the case. I'm a reasonable guy, and cancellations happen for one reason or another. But if it's not a widespread problem, make sure you take care of the few affected. Alert them of changes and try to solve problems before they even know they exist. It adds insult to injury when the whole world is moving but you're not.

3) Make sure your technology picks up conflicts - My second flight was delayed, and I wasn't even told. Had I not specifically checked, I'd be on my way without a clue, eventually stranded at the airport again with no idea what to do. It doesn't seem that their system picked up that this delay would cause me to miss my connection, let alone alert me of it as soon as possible.

4) Suggest alternatives - As my friends still flew out of JFK, there were planes going to Vegas I wasn't on. I know you don't want to lose the business, but had you suggested I could get on another flight with a different airline from the get-go, I wouldn't be writing you off now. Again, especially true if it's an isolated incident. Showing you actually do care about getting people where they need to go when they need to be there will make you more money than keeping the revenue generated by selling one plane's worth of tickets.

5) Gimme something - JetBlue doesn't do first class, but they do have "Even More Space" seats. I won't be sitting in one, even though there are still a few available on the flight I'm supposed to be leaving on. You should be prepared to suck it up a little bit if you've already inconvenienced a few people. Let alone twice.

6) Don't tell me not to say anything - Airlines get a bad rap, often unjustly. It's a complicated business and there will always be hitches. But when your customer service person, nice as she may be, tells a future passenger "not to make a big deal of this because there's a lot of moving parts," that's somewhat insulting. No shit pilots need sleep, but you should have factored that in to begin with. It's not an excuse now. If we can't criticize businesses based on our experiences then there'd be plenty of journalists out of work.

Maybe I'm being unreasonable. Maybe this is a rant and a half. But maybe if an airline really went out of its way to make up for some of the unavoidable problems there's be some customer loyalty.

Rant over, though Vegas now has a black mark on it. Anyone else had a similar experience?

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