JetBlue’s nightmare week is continuing, as the airline has announced it will cancel 25% of its Monday flights, 5 days after an East Coast storm wiped out its operations. JetBlue has cancelled about 1,000 flights in 5 days, and has seen 7 years of goodwill flushed down the 2 lavatories located in coach. Police were called in to calm frustrated travelers in Boston and New York. Incredible that the situation got so out of hand in multiple cities, but the comments a couple of OTR readers have posted about their own horror stories suggests that it was amazing customers kept it together at all.
Also incredibly, CEO David Neeleman told the NY Times that airline management was unprepared for the way the events unfolded. He blamed airline operations for not being able to stay in touch with pilots & flight attendants, blamed customer service reps who work out of their homes, blamed the airline’s reservations system, and blamed the airline’s emergency control center. Though while he said he was "humiliated and mortified," he didn’t take the blame himself. And from what it sounds like, the airline was simply ill-prepared and, worse, took several days to realize the extent that it was unprepared. If Neeleman weren’t the founder, I would expect a board to oust him over this. But they won’t.
I was about to write that on the plus side, we can assume this will never happen again. But it’s happened over and over again (from the Northwest 20+ hour ordeal several years ago, to the American mess in Texas last year, to JetBlue). It will happen again. Profits come first, you come second. It’s great when that benefits passengers, but it stings a bit when it doesn’t. As soon as we stop fooling ourselves that airlines care about anything other than profitability (and, to be fair, safety), we’ll gladly accept the next 3-hour wait on the tarmac.