Jet Screw

November 7, 2009

in Delay/Cancellation Stories

A double-whammy…
Dateline Chicago O’Hare…

My Jet-Blue flight from O’Hare to JFK was slated to depart at about 9:00am. As usual, I arrived at the airport with more than enough time to spare. Everything seemed to go well despite a little unruly August weather. I was excited, because this was my trip home from a week away on business, and I was about to depart 3 days later with my wife, on a cruise to Alaska.

We boarded the plane at about 8:30 or so, and the plane pushed back from the gate at almost 9:00 sharp. And that… my good friends… is when the torture began.

We taxied out – but not far… In fact, we were less than 200 yards from the gate when we stopped. According to the pilot, some outbound delays would cause us to wait here for about 1/2 hour before we could taxi out. No big deal – happens all the time.

About a hour later, flight attendants gave us something to drink. I watched my DirecTV from my coach seat in the far back of the aircraft and tried not to pay attention.

Three hours later, the pilot announced we would be be leaving shortly. A look out the window told me that the pilot had to be insane. The approaching dark cloud was nothing I wanted to be near, and when it hit our still stationary aircraft, my view of the terminal building vanished in the howling wind that shook the plane with a ferocity unmatched by even the turbulence on a bad day between Miami and NY.

At hour 5, the rain finally stopped. The pilot announced that we had lost our place in line and would wait some more. At that point, the flight attendants were rationing water to only the children, and two of the bathrooms were locked shut. I asked the flight attendant if the pilot actually planned to fly a plane with no water and half the bathrooms closed from Chicago to New York… I got a blank stare.

At hour 6, the pilot turned off the air conditioning to save power.

Now… needless to say… many of us were asking to be taken back to the gate by this time – our requests went unheeded.

We finally did go back to the gate – it took all of 5 minutes to get there. Why? Because an elderly lady sitting towards the front of the plane finally collapsed from the stuffy air and lack of water. I charged from the plane, desperate to be anywhere else.

When I arrived in the terminal, I found that it was impossible to rebook on any flight for the next 2 days – why? Because Jet Blue will only re-book on Jet Blue. Fine I thought – I’ll buy another ticket on another airline, and deal with Jet Blue later – their “passenger bill of rights” document in my pocket that promised a refund.

Could I get another flight? No. Why? Because while we sat on the tarmac for 7 hours, the other airlines had canceled all of their flights, and re-booked their passengers already for the next day. I was told the earliest I could get to NY was two days later.

Bus to Hertz, and an overnight drive from Chicago all the way to New York. When I turned the car in, my one-way charge for two days rental was $850. The Hertz attendant saw the Ohio plates and his eyes bugged out when he printed my statement.

So I was home… without my luggage – which Jet Blue refused to take from the plane that they STILL insisted would eventually leave. I know it didn’t because when I got to NY, my luggage was still in Chicago. I went back to JFK hours before my next flight to Fairbanks left to start our cruise.

Now – you’d think this was the end – but no. Jet Blue, trying to be nice about the whole thing, sent me a free round-trip ticket voucher without my even asking for it.

I thought to myself – NICE – I’ll use that to visit my Father in North Carolina for Father’s day. Booked JFK to RDU. Got to the airport (this time, with carry-on luggage only, thank the gods). My flight wasn’t on the monitor, and I asked why. I was told I was a little early (1 1/2 hours before flight-time). So I waited a bit. My flight made it to the monitors 1 hour before scheduled departure. The departure stated it was delayed… 6 hours.

At this point, I compared my flight to all the others on the board. No other flight was delayed. I asked how this could be, and got a blank stare.

Since I only had a few days, I decided that arriving in Raleigh at 2:00 in the morning or later would make me tired and grumpy for that brief Father’s day visit, that it made no sense to go. It was then that I did what I’d wanted to do for months…

At the ticket counter – I asked to see a supervisor. With a long line of people behind me, I tore my boarding pass into about six pieces… asked for a pair of scissors, and proceeded to do the same thing to my Jet Blue frequent flier card. Childish? Absolutely. Did it feel good to do that? Absolutely.

To this day, my wife and I both refer to the airline in any conversation as “Jet Screw.”

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex November 7, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Good on you sir! I laughed pretty hard reading this…


TheBigM November 8, 2009 at 6:26 am

Well done! All things considered your response to such poor service was very controlled – and appropriate.


rerere February 11, 2010 at 1:42 pm

yeah right…


DSD November 8, 2009 at 9:44 am

Very Nice!!!

Sucks to hear you had to go through all of that but I really like your responce.


Hugh November 9, 2009 at 12:40 am

I'm sure it felt good, but really, if they were not given clearance to leave Chicago, I don't think you can blame Jet Blue. They have no reason to keep you there when the plane is needed in New York. I think too often we blame them for things not their fault, when there really are plenty of things to take them to task for.


btrc November 9, 2009 at 8:07 am

hugh i only read stories you have posted a comment on. keep it up


Josh November 10, 2009 at 8:49 am

While I agree, Hugh, I think that the most infuriating thing when dealing with airline reps after a delay or cancellation is the general lack of empathy from airline staff.

That being said, it sounds like Jet Blue was pretty good about being empathetic (with the free voucher and all).


Adam November 11, 2009 at 8:30 pm

When I moved overseas, those bastards permanently lost my bag with $2,000 worth of my most important possessions for my move! Including all my brand new unworn clothes! The bag was never found, and after four months of arguing they eventually agreed to reimburse me for $1,000 and gave me a $100 voucher! They even had the nerve to suggest I was overstating the value of my lost stuff for my own financial gain because I didn't have receipts!

Check my story, 'Lost bag leads to lost business'


Richard December 1, 2009 at 9:51 am

I think you are trying to become a Writer! I know for a fact jetblue has never had a 6/7 hour hold of passengers on the tarmac at O'Hare Airport. I work for O'hare Airports Air Traffic, and I believe if you want to tell people the truth that you are a Delta Airlines Employee or United Employee making up false stories regarding jetblue. You should be ashamed at the same time I wonder why Delta or United have jetblue to fear who is a much smaller airline? mmm


rerere January 30, 2010 at 11:17 am

Well, you SERIOUSLY think an airline like United is better?


the logger March 24, 2010 at 6:44 am

What should be done when a plane is stuck on the tarmac is open all the doors and let the passengers roam at will over the runways and taxiways.

They could even let the fatties graze on the grass in between.

The open doors would help dillute the effects of the stinkers.


Kyle April 16, 2011 at 1:32 am

rerere you are a idiot, please do not contact me as for i know enough idiots like you and do not need assisting to find more such as you.


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