Today’s award for most creative definition of an airline cancellation goes to JetBlue Airways. Back in February, after canceling Judith Ganz’ flight from Dulles to Boston — that’s right, canceling — it redefined its action as a “schedule change” in order to pocket her money.
But the airline split hairs with the wrong passenger. Turns out she was uniquely qualified to question JetBlue’s claim.
In March, I got an email from JetBlue: “We want to inform you about a change to your scheduled flight. Your flight 1252 … has been changed. You are now confirmed on flight 1254 …”
The later flight got me into Boston too late to connect to my confirmed 11:30 Cape Air flight to Nantucket. After speaking with customer service rep, supervisor, and submitting email complaint, I was told this was a schedule change not a cancellation, and that I was only entitled to a credit.
Flight 1252 continues to fly on weekdays — apparently JetBlue canceled flight 1252 on weekends.
I do not fly JetBlue — this was a rare trip to the East Coast to see an old friend. I would like my refund.
Ganz’ rights are spelled out under JetBlue’s contract of carriage. Paragraph 25 is clear:
Whenever Carrier cancels or otherwise fails to operate and scheduled flight, Carrier will, at the request of the Passenger either (i) transport the Passenger on another of Carrier’s flights on which space is available at no additional charge or (ii) provide Passenger with a full refund …
I recommended Ganz send a brief, polite email to JetBlue, pointing out this paragraph, which she did.
Now, it may have helped that Ganz is a lawyer, so her letter might have carried some extra weight. But in this case, the airline had apparently redefined a cancellation as schedule change, to its own advantage. That’s just unacceptable for passenger with law degrees and without them.
Yesterday, she received the following note from JetBlue:
Dear Ms. Ganz,
Thank you for your additional correspondence with JetBlue and for providing the information we requested. We have refunded $99.70 to your Visa credit card. Those funds will be available within 4-7 business days and can take up to two billing cycles to appear on your statement.
The credit originally issued to your JetBlue Travel Bank will be voided and no longer available.
Judith, we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience the schedule change to your flight may have caused you. We appreciate you as a JetBlue customer and hope to welcome you onboard a flight in the future!
Still sticking with their story, huh? But JetBlue did the right thing — at last.
Ganz is happy with the outcome.
Thank you so much for all your help. Writing a letter and referencing the contract of carriage did the trick as you suggested. Whew! The good guys won!
If JetBlue hadn’t come around, she might have contacted the Transportation Department, which monitors airline complaints and might have been able to help. Or she could have threatened to take them to court.
(Photo: g Tarded/Flickr Creative Commons)