Warning: Rant below. I don't post on this blog often, so you know if I do, I've got something to say.
I'm sitting here at the White Plains airport after a very successful business engagement. And that's the end of the good news.
Because the client is in Westchester, it seemed to make sense to fly to this airport and avoid New York City traffic. Normally I quite happily fly on American Airlines, but that airline didn't have any direct flights here. So...I left from Fort Lauderdale, instead of Miami, and flew JetBlue instead of American. I should have known better.
I arrived at the airport 2.5 hours before scheduled flight time. We were done with our work early. When I got here, I found out my flight was delayed, but there was a flight boarding that was going to West Palm, not to far from FLL. I figured they'd let me on. The door was open, there was clearly time, and that flight itself was a couple of hours late. I know the drill, I fly a lot. I knew it would cost me some money, but it was worth it. Out of the cold, back to the warmth, and I'd figure out how to get to my car when I got back to Florida.
Not so fast, Paula Rosenblum.
The gate attendant refused to let me get on the plane. She said "it's too late, the flight is closed." The flight was not closed. She was still calling passengers to get on it. I said "look, I'm willing to pay." She was adamant. "No, our system wont let us change you." All of you who fly know that any airline will let you on an outbound flight if there are empty seats and you have a ticket. It may cost you money, but they will let you on. Not JetBlue. The best part? She blamed it on their computer system! Seriously???
Anyway, I got instantly hot and asked for her to get a supervisor. It took the supervisor 15 minutes to get here - and yes, the plane was still at the gate for all that time. By the time the supervisor arrived, the plane was closed. The supervisor was sympathetic but obviously not helpful. The gate agent had told her one story, and that story was not true. The only one with any sense of urgency was me.
So I will eventually get home tonight - just way later than I planned. But I keep thinking about that JetBlue pilot on the tarmac on October 30. He called the airport begging for help because, in his words "...I can't seem to get any help from my own company." That flight was (ironically) headed FROM Fort Lauderdale to Newark. I think I have a sense of how he must've felt.
JetBlue employees don't care, they don't go the extra mile, in fact they won't budge an inch. It offends me greatly that the gate attendant actually blamed "the system." And even as the pleasant supervisor said "Well there was no room on the plane" when I asked her directly if it was full she replied "There were only 10 empty seats." Honestly, I would have fit in ONE. Even on a bad day.
Maybe the occasional traveler can tolerate this kind of service. Business travelers really can't. I don't care if there's a TV behind my seat. I don't care that for "only" $40 I got to have 4 inches extra legroom (10 dollars an inch, I know there's a joke in there somewhere). What I care about is my TIME. These people wasted my time, insulted my intelligence and stranded me. I won't forget, and I won't ever fly them again. And if anyone asks me I'll encourage them to do the same. Do.Not.Fly.JetBlue.
Say it with me, people. Do.Not.Fly.JetBlue.