Hey JetBlue, that’s no way to start a cruise!

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Michele Kelly’s recent Alaska cruise got off to a bad start, and she blames JetBlue Airways for it. First, for not keeping its schedule — and then, for keeping its schedule a little too well.

Kelly’s flight from Boston to Anchorage misconnected in the worst way possible. A mechanical delay caused the first flight to miss its scheduled arrival time by a few minutes. But then her connecting flight left early.

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A JetBlue representative suggested the airline might compensate her for the difference between her missed Alaska leg and the walk-up fare she had to pay to get to the ship on time, but you can probably already guess what happened when she tried to collect on that.

Yes, my friends, always get a promise like that in writing.

I’m sending this case to my “dismissed” file, for reasons that will become clear to you in a minute. (And if they aren’t, then you’ll want to vote in the poll — if I’m wrong about this, I’ll be happy to take up her case.)

A few details: Kelly, her husband and another couple were scheduled to leave from Whittier, Alaska, on May 31. They booked a JetBlue flight for the 30th, thinking it would give them enough time.

“Apparently that wasn’t enough,” she says.

Their itinerary was a little circuitous: Boston-New York-Long Beach-Anchorage, all on JetBlue. She’s either a fan, or someone who just wanted a deal. After all, the end-on-end fare combination through Long Beach is cheaper than the Boston-Anchorage through fare.

But flight one, from Boston to New York, experienced a maintenance-related delay, which really threw a wrench in her itinerary.

“Because of the delay, we were worried we may miss our connection to Long Beach, and when we landed we ran to the gate, only to find the flight had left early,” she says. “The flight was scheduled for 1:40 p.m., and we and a few others arrived at the gate at 1:38, only to find that not only had they closed the doors, the plane was already gone.”

Kelly asked a gate agent why the flight was gone. The agent “snapped at us” and ordered the couple to return to the customer service desk.

We went to the JetBlue desk at JFK to try and get on another flight. The only itinerary they could book us on would get us to Anchorage late Saturday night, after our cruise ship left.

We started looking for other flights that could get us to Anchorage in time, and found that there was no option with JetBlue.

We ended up booking with Delta, which cost us $5,324 for the four of us. This was $4,135 more than the original JetBlue itinerary. A supervisor at the desk mentioned that they could potentially refund us the difference between the two flights, so that’s what we figured we’d do.

But she figured wrong. When she contacted JetBlue requesting a refund, here’s what it said:

While we do not reimburse for expenses paid outside of being accommodated on the next available JetBlue flight whenever it may be, or we refund the flight cost instead as per our Contract of Carriage, if your flight qualified for credit compensation and meets the criteria for the Bill of Rights, you should have already received an email from JetBlue. If you did not receive an email, you may click on the link below to see if your flight qualified:


Although you were each issued a JetBlue credit equal to the fare paid on us, minus taxes and fees previously, we have issued each of you on your reservation an additional $50 service credit which has been applied to your individual Travel Bank accounts. We feel that this compensation is generous and protects the integrity of our guidelines, while ensuring consistency for all of our customers.

JetBlue credits are valid for one year from their original date of issue and must be used to book a future flight and can be used by whoever you wish.

We do hope that you will use your credit and fly with us again. We look forward to seeing you aboard a JetBlue flight sometime in the near future.

In other words, no can do on reimbursing you for your Delta flight.

So here’s why I’m saying “no” to this case. JetBlue is absolutely correct on the compensation levels offered to Kelly. Technically, it just has to refund the unused flight segment from JFK to Anchorage. The credit is a nice bonus.

Here’s where Kelly erred: When a JetBlue supervisor said, “We might be able to fix that,” she should have pulled out her iPhone and taped it.

You know, “State your name. Tell us what JetBlue agrees to do.” Short of having something in writing, that video is the only way I can think of that the airline will make good on an offer to reimburse the Kellys and their friends for $5,324.

And JetBlue? Ah, JetBlue! Why are they pushing back two minutes before their scheduled departure? I’m sure there’s some kind of airline logic behind that, but I’m starting to get a little tired of these games airlines play to rig their DOT on-time ratings. The government should note — and punish — airlines for pushing back from the gate early, in my view. But that’s another story.

Should I have turned down Michele Kelly's case?

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202 thoughts on “Hey JetBlue, that’s no way to start a cruise!

  1. I have worked many years in the field of public transportation, both as a government bureaucrat regulating carriers and as a company manager being managed by the government. One of the most critical measures is that of on-time performance (“OTP”). The standard measure of OTP in the public transportation industry is “never departing early and not more than five minutes late.” Some agencies use a slightly more relaxed measure that allows for departures one minute early (on the theory that watches cannot be synchronized exactly), but that is controversial in the industry. In any case, a departure that is two minutes early is counted as NOT on-time, and for good reason: passengers will miss the bus if it departs two minutes early.

    It seems to me that part of the problem here comes from the Department of Transportation. Early airline departures should count as NOT count as “on-time” (with the possible exceptions of (1) the airplane being loaded to capacity and there’s no possible reason to wait for additional passengers, and (2) an international airline not having rights to carry local passengers from that airport).

    The other part of the problem (and shared with the public transportation industry) is that many employees are indifferent. So what if it means that the company loses out on the fare revenue; it does not go to the employees dispatching the buses or airplanes. The attitude among operating employees is, oftentimes, just get the assigned work done, driving or flying from point A to point B, the passengers on board are merely an inconvenience to getting the job done.

    1. As long as the flight didn’t close early, why does it matter what time the plane actually pushed back from the gate? Nobody’s getting on-board once that door closes…

        1. With flights being at such high capacity these days, they probably gave away the passengers seats to standbys at T-15, and pushed back with a full flight.

        2. but jet blue knew that there were connecting passengers arriving on a delayed flight from boston (“we and a few others”). in a situation like that, why the early departure?
          or maybe it was as emanon says, they gave the seats to standbys.

          1. Another time, my first flight was so delayed I knew I would miss connecting flight, again in damn Atlanta. My fiance picked up the phone at home and got me on the flight at the next gate which would have allowed me to make my connection. But somehow my reservation on the connecting flight was canceled anyway, I suspect as a universal cancelation for anyone on original grounded flight who would not be making connecting flights departing before a certain time period. Maybe something happened in Boston

          2. You CANNOT arrive at the gate 2 minutes before the flight and board – you MUST be at the gate 20 minutes prior. And if they board the flight, all are seated and ready to go, they can pull away early.

        3. I would agree with you IF the passenger had been responsible for their own lateness. but when a passenger is late due to an airline screw-up, don’t you think the airline has any responsibility to at least TRY to get the passenger on the plane?

          I don’t know why I’m asking, because I know you’re the most customer-hostile commentor on this board.

          This kind of puts the recent story about changes in Jet Blue in perspective. I’ve never flown them before, and I’m even less likely to now.

      1. I think that point would be stronger if the time in the timetable referred to the time at which passenger boarding ceased, and airline operations began. Essentially, I think you’re saying that the time advertised in the timetable is an arbitrary time related somehow to how an airline internally handles its flights, but has no relevance to passenger himself or herself as to boarding. This goes to the fundamental question: What is a “scheduled departure time”?

        1. I agree that it would make a lot more sense if the advertised time was the closing time, but this is the way it’s been listed in airline timetables since forever (we are talking decades here…); this isn’t some new sneaky airline trick.

          1. Oh…so if we go back the the good old days like it used to be…it would be the same? 😉

          2. I noticed when I flew United last month that boarding start and ending times were were printed on my boarding passes.

          3. That is a new enhancement due to people that think they can walk up at departure time to board their plane.

      2. I’ve gotten on board a delta flight in Atlanta once the door was closed because 12-15 of us were delayed thanks to weather. It was about 10 minutes before scheduled departure though, so one vocal guy demanded a manager come over and let us on, reasoning that it was easier to open the door than rebook all of us. It worked! We had to take whatever seat was available and sit down right away so we could leave. This was April 2011 and Airlines had already started reducing flights to maximize number of passengers

    2. The “standard measure of OTP” stated by LFH0 does not apply to airline operations, as per the DOT. For airlines, any departure more than 15 minutes after scheduled time or any arrival more than 15 minutes after scheduled time is considered not to have been on time.

      Thus, leaving early is considered to be on schedule, as is arriving early.

      The difference can be mainly attributed to a key difference between air travel and other modes. That is, along with a unique and pervasive operating environment, administrative control of movements in the air (and on the controlled parts of ground) are managed by a third party, Air Traffic Control. Such an environment does not exist in other modes of transport.

    3. As a former regulator, I’m wondering if you can tell me why the OP isn’t entitled to ‘involuntary denied boarding compensation.’ They were denied boarding because the plane was gone

      1. I can’t speak as a regulator, but in the Jetblue contract of carriage it states the passenger must present themselves at the gate a minimum of 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time or they will be considered a no-show and not entitled to any compensation. It then goes on to state what CE mentioned, if the carrier caused the delay resulting in them being a no-show, they can be accommodated on the next scheduled Jetblue flight on the same route with space available, or receive a refund of the one-way fare of the portion on flown.

        It defines Involuntarily Denied Boarding as someone who arrived at the gate at least 20 minutes in advance, with a proper boarding document, who meets all of the requirements for carriage, and is refused to be transported and unwilling to volunteer for a later flight.

      2. They were denied boarding because the CoC says they close the door 10/15/20 minutes before departure (depending on carrier.) The actual time the plane pushes back from the gate and the reason you aren’t there on time are irrelevant when it comes to the denied boarding rule.

      3. Involuntary Denied Boarding is really relevant to

        14 CFR Part 250 – OVERSALES

        Jetblue does not overbook. So they do not need to BUMP a passenger because of oversales.

        Regardless, a pax is not bumped if they do not show up on time.

        § 250.6 Exceptions to eligibility for denied boarding compensation.
        A passenger denied boarding involuntarily from an oversold flight shall not be eligible for denied boarding compensation if:
        (a) The passenger does not comply fully with the carrier’s contract of carriage or tariff provisions regarding ticketing, reconfirmation, check-in, and acceptability for transportation;

      4. NO – they were NOT denied boarding – they merely arrived at their gate too late to legally board, and that onus is on the passenger.

        1. I wouldn’t say that the onus is on the passenger when they misconnect due to no fault of their own, but that is not a denied boarding either, and is not due compensation.

          The concept, however, that one can show up at 1:38 for a 1:40 departure and expect to board is ridiculous. And the fact the Elliott is castigating an airline for that is completely out of line. The DEPARTURE is by 1:40. If people show up within a few minutes of that, then the flight cannot depart on time.

  2. Why are they pushing back two minutes early? Probably because everyone was ready to go.

    Boarding is generally closed 15 minutes prior to departure to accommodate an on time departure, even if you are checked in. They need to have time to remove no shows, accommodate standby passengers, and brief the crew on the final counts. (Among other things.)

    What we don’t know is how long past the 15 minute window JetBlue may have waited for connecting customers and we don’t know if JetBlue was particularly anxious to depart JFK that day due to heavy traffic or known weather issues.

    1. There is logic to this. JFK is slot controlled especially during the times flights to Europe depart and arrive. Too bad her JFK flight is the early PM. That’s arrival time for European flights. You better get out of the way or get stuck in line.

  3. Missing from the story is whether the long Jetblue circuitous routing was one itinerary, or multiple reservations.

    I suspect they were trying to game the system by getting to Alaska via piecing together multiple discounted itineraries. Normally, if there are transferring passengers from a delayed flight, the airline would not send off the connecting flight early; in the worst case the agent would’ve gone ahead and began rebooking them on the next flight without prompting.

    That’s the other part that’s missing from the story — no mention of the Jetblue agent trying to rebook them on the next flight. If the connecting flight was the last flight of the day, there’s no way any airline would have it leave early when they know they have someone transferring from a late incoming flight, since the airline will now be on the hook for hotel and meals.

    Agreed. Case closed. You tried to game the system. You lost.

      1. It is if the fare rules and published routings aren’t adhered to.

        I want to go from A to C. Point A to Point C nonstop is $500.

        City “B” is in between.
        Point A to Point B is $150 by itself.
        Point B to Point C is $150 by itself.

        Airport published a 60 minute connection time is required, and the option described only allows for a 45 minute connection. I buy two tickets anyway and “game the system”. Connection works…that’s great. If it doesn’t it’s my problem, not the airlines.

          1. I’ve never tried it in the DIY world. (Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, airline websites…etc.) I know how to do it in the travel agent GDS world.

    1. I expect this was a single reservation. The MCT for B6 in JFK is only 20 minutes, as the gates are rather close together. That said, I wouldn’t even dream of trying to connect in an NYC-area airport in anything less than an hour; not if I REALLY needed to be somewhere.

      1. FYI for Jetblue online domestic-to-domestic Terminal 5 JFK, the minimum connection time is 35 minutes.
        That’s the minimum legal connection.
        But I agree with you. Anyone trying to connect in JFK with anything less than an hour is playing with fire (even on the same Terminal).
        There are so many things that can go wrong at JFK. Simply take the earlier flight and it will be less stressful.

    2. they said they got to the gate at 1:38 and the flight was supposed to leave at 1:40 – that is only 2 minutes, not the 20 you are required. not the airlines’ problem you wer late to the gate, and they finished boarding with a few minutes to spare – you STILL would not get on at that late time.

      1. See my post above. It now appears not to apply in this case, but in my example of cities A, B, and C is the type of situation where it would be gaming the system.

        1. I got that part. My question is why is that considered “gaming” which implies an impropriety of some sort.

          1. Trying to find an itinerary that “breaks the rules” with the goal of getting a cheaper fare is gaming the system. Illegal connections, back to back, hidden cities…etc.

          2. I’ve always wondered about another method of what I consider gaming the system, but others I know regularly book this way to save money and think they are being smart travelers. I don’t even know what to call it. Its not back to back, hidden city, or throwaway ticketing, and all coupons are lifted. Maybe it is considered back to back still, but its different than traditional back to back?

            In this example, lets say the lowest published fare for airline X from LAX to ORD is $500. But airline X has a $100 fare from LAX-BOI and $120 from BOI-ORD. The BOI fares are because the airline is trying to promote the BOI routes, and is a spoke for both hubs. If I try to book LAX-BOI-ORD on the airlines website, it still prices it at $500 because its still subject to the LAX-ORD published fare. But if I buy two separate tickets, LAX-BOI for $100 and BOI-ORD for $120, I now can book that flight for $220.

            Anyway, I consider that gaming the system and I ask them what they will do if they don’t make it to BOI for their next flight and tell them they have no protection since its a separate ticket, and so far they are always lucky.

          3. Your example reflects perfectly my dislike for the broad definitions being passed around here. The airlines set up this complex maze of routes and fares and then they and others complain when customers take advantage of those rules.

            My “gaming” definition would be booking flights in a way that is outside the normal patterns followed by the airlines themselves. A few examples of my own to illustrate:

            – Booked with Southwest from DIA to SEA. Had a long layover at DIA, and next available flight was DIA-ABQ-SEA, which made no sense to me, but I’m sure makes sense to them.
            – My sister regularly booked flights to SFO from her little town of 20,000 through DIA for significantly less than I could (same dates) from DIA. Mystery to me, but airlines must’ve had a reason.
            – Tried once to book a fare out of DIA and when I chose “show nearby airports” the same flight was $100 less if I drove 1 hour to get on in COS.

            So … if THEY can do it (connect through other, sometimes strange cities), why can’t WE? And furthermore, I have grown to like 1 stop flights over non-stop because I can deplane, stretch, and get something to eat (yeah, I’m gettin’ old).

            As long as the airlines sell flights themselves with multiple “strange” (my word) connections (a common one I remember is DIA-EWR-BUF), we should be able to without the “gaming” label thrust upon us. Otherwise, it’s just simple unfair and borders on the absurd in my opinion.

          4. You can book individual tickets however you like – but keep in mind they will not CARE your previous flight was delayed – because you are not on a connecting flight, but on a new ticket – and you did not arrive in time to board that 2nd flight, and are on your own. (the reason you connect thru weird cities sometimes is due to the hub and spoke system airlines need to use to maximize capacity – smaller planes to larger ones and vice versa as needed)

          5. The don’t allow the fares to combine BECAUSE they don’t want to be responsible if there is a mis-connect.

          6. This is definitely not gaming the system. It is definitely making a very poor decision, though.

            Let’s put on our common sense hat for a minute and take a real look at the situation.

            Their BOS to JFK B6 117 flight was originally scheduled to:
            Depart: BOS
            11:46 AM – Fri May-30-2014
            Arrive: JFK
            12:58 PM – Fri May-30-2014

            From there, they will connect to B6 213 which is scheduled to depart at 140PM.

            Since there is a minimum connection time (MCT) at JFK for Jetblue of 35 minutes, then this requires that the BOS-JFK flight be scheduled to arrive NLT 105PM. The flight barely makes it. It is scheduled to arrive 1258PM, a mere 7 minutes more than MCT

            So if the flight is delayed by more than 7 minutes, then the connection at JFK is no longer “legal”. In other words if the BOS departure was beyond 11:53AM, then the connection was already not legal.

            Unfortunately Actual Departure was 12:20 PM – Fri May-30-2014.
            So by the time they departed BOS, they were already doomed.

            If you look at the airline’s own events transmissions, at 1156AM the scheduled (runway) departure was already set for 12 NOON and runway arrival at JFK at 1242. If taxi (give or take) is 20 minutes, you can see these folks would never make it.

            The question is where were they at 1153AM?
            If they were still in the gate area (and not boarded), then they could have asked B6 to reaccommodate them immediately on the 4PM BOS-ANC flight. There was no reason for them to go to JFK and just get stuck. But if they were inside the airplane already, then this move would be infeasible and they were doomed.

            Just my 2 additional cents added to the fray 🙂

          7. This is a nightmare waiting to happen – if you booked on ONE ticket, it is a connecting flight, and is treated as such. Book 2 tickets, Boise’s becomes 2nd outbound, so if late getting in, you’ve now missed NOT a connecting flight, but an outbound. They price what a ticket from point a-b costs, and it does not make a difference where you connect. BUT, if that connecting city is not a busy one, both tickets being roundtrip MAY be cheaper, as they are trying to sell that roundtrip destination to those in Boise. Can be a pain, but they know they only sell a handful of tickets on that route, but it still must be maintained in those secondary markets.

          8. You’re simply making an “assumption” as to what they were trying to do. And then go on to condemn them for it. We all know what happens when you assume…

            In this case, the assumption you can be boarded if you arrive 2 minutes early is ludicrous. Booking tight connecting times is foolish. Finally, expecting JB to pay thousands for another flight is patently ridiculous (I call total BS on any agent supposedly saying “book another airline and we’ll pay the difference”). It smells all the way round.

            These Alaskan clowns heard what they wanted to hear. And paid the price for their foolishness and stupidity.

          9. Actually, scroll up…way up. I’m not making an assumption in this case. I was responding to someone who suggested that perhaps this is what happened. (Note the flight details were missing at the time.) The conversation made a turn to ask if people who DO book less than minimum suggested connections are “gaming the system”.

          10. I think you have a good question. Typical air carrier contracts of carriage define the maximum duration of a connection before it turns into a “stopover” (usually 4 hours), and with stopovers not allowed on most through fares, booking a “stopover” requires having to price the itinerary as the sum of local fares (instead of the through fare). That is to say, the carriers view the sum of local fares as a “penalty” for not complying with their rules prohibiting stopovers. So if the carriers can seek to impose the sum of local fares onto passenger, how could it be that passengers are “gaming” the system by imposing that “penalty” on themselves?

            The same situation exists in southern New Jersey on New Jersey Transit buses. They use a zone fare system where the additional per-zone charge is greater for interstate travel than for intrastate travel. For example, the through fare between Cape May, N.J. and Philadelphia, Pa. is $22.75. The fare from Cape May, N.J. to Camden, N.J. is $10.05, and the fare from Camden, N.J. to Philadelphia, Pa. is $1.80. The sum of local fares is $11.85, about half of the through fare (and the through bus stops enroute in Camden to pick up and discharge passengers). Would the authorities ever “crack down” on passengers changing buses in Camden instead of paying the through fare? Of course not; it’s not “gaming” the system.

    1. Insurance? But they left a day early! Yes, they took a circuitous route with no backup options, but they still left a day early. Why would they need insurance? What….could….go….wrong? 😉

      1. I know you are just joking. But take a look at their idea of having an “extra” day. Really?

        Their planned flight gets in ANC at 1136PM.
        It probably takes about an hour to get out of ANC with your luggage.

        Embarkation most probably is from 1PM to 7PM the next day.
        I doubt the shuttle to Whittier is operating at midnight.
        I takes almost 2 hours from Anchorage Airport to the Pier at Whittier.

        Essentially they would have got out of ANC airport the day of the cruise departed. This is no “extra” day.

        1. Done the drive. If there is no wildlife on the road, 2 hours is doable. But it took us 4 hours due to belligerent mooses who would not get out of the road.

          And arriving at your destination at midnight is not an extra day no matter how you look at it.

          1. And don’t forget that one also has to pay attention to the timetable for the tunnel, which can add an extra hour (or two) if one just misses the tunnel time.

        1. That’s why I only buy insurance when I am working with a TA. For simple trips, I DIY and take the risk myself. For crazy all over the place trips, I use a TA and the insurance they recommend.

          1. For the LW, she should have sat down with an agent for the cruise and let them figure out what to do.

        2. Ok, so which insurance was the “right one” here, even with the benefit of hindsight?

          My initial reading of TravelGuard (Gold or Platinum) is that the OP would not have been covered by the Missed Connection terms because no single regularly scheduled flight was delayed more than 3 hours.

          Maybe the OP would have been eligible for Trip Delay coverage or maybe not. It’s not clear to me if a 5+ hour gap until the next regularly scheduled flight qualifies as a 5 hour delay. He would have been required to call Travel Guard to potentially make alternate arrangements. If the other flights departed in the interim he could be SOL regardless.

          It does everyone a disservice if you pretend that insurance is a panacea.

          You and your professional colleagues often don’t even agree on which policy is the “right one.”

          Every travel insurance or protection plan is full of loopholes. Third party plans generally have better coverage, but (as you have pointed out) cruiseline-sold plans can at least give you some credit toward a future cruise in cases where third party plans would pay out absolutely nothing. But then you still lose your airfare. Just like the OP did.

  4. Yeah, I do think you should get involved, but not for the obvious reasons. JetBlue owes the passengers a refund of their ticket cost.

    Yes, the OP booked a poor route and didn’t leave themselves an “out”. They also didn’t book travel insurance (though it probably wouldn’t have done much good in this case. Shame, shame.

    But JetBlue pushed back because they had a full plane. That’s the only reason why airlines push back early. Which means they used the late arrival of these passengers as an excuse to bump them. I find that distasteful. Furthermore, JetBlue should and could have “walked” the passengers to Delta to get them to their destination. That’s what should happen when you strand passengers. But they didn’t do any of that. Shame, shame.

    Note what JetBlue wrote “or we REFUND the flight cost instead as per our Contract of Carriage”. As such, JetBlue owes the OP a refund, not a crappy credit. JetBlue should be writing checks for about $1,200 and the OP learned an expensive lesson.

    1. Jetblue does not oversell their flights. Even if they did, they weren’t onboard 15 minutes prior to departure.

    2. They didn’t arrive at the gate until 2 minutes prior to scheduled pushback. If they had waited for the passengers, the plane would have missed it’s takeoff slot, delaying it for who knows how long. Their seats probably had standby passengers in them…

      The “discount” airlines, such as JetBlue or Southwest, rarely re-route passengers to other carriers. I think they might have considered it if the passengers were hours late arriving in JFK, but when you only allow yourself 42 minutes to connect, I can understand the airline not rewarding that silly behavior by blowing big $$$ buying tickets for them elsewhere.

      Though I do agree that they are owed a refund, and they’ll get one by asking for it.

  5. Chris … Boy this is a case where the Kelleys could have used a good old fashion TA (Tony et al I’ll take my endorsement checks later).

    Cruises have very hard target start times. If you miss them be even 15 min you are out of luck. When taken in that context, saving $50 to add extra legs onto a flight itinerary makes little sense. Saving $100 for a couple could cost them thousands in lost cruise money. I don’t know an old fashioned TA that would have recommended this itinerary. Its too high risk due to the multiple stops.

    Because of their fixed start times, cruises are a higher risk vacation for “oh nos” while traveling to them. Saving $150 a person by not buying 3rd party trip insurance doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. Again, I don’t know a TA that wouldn’t have recommended that the Kelleys purchase TI. A good policy may have covered their mechanical delay and the purchasing of the flights.

    Finally, I don’t blame jetBlue for closing the door when they did. The departure time is the time that the plane leaves not the time that they close the door. Anyone that has flown realizes that there are multiple steps that occur after boarding is completed and before the plane departs. As passengers, we demanded that DOT hold airlines accountable for their timeliness and now they do. As a result, airlines have to make their departure times which is why they state that you have to be ready to board no later than 15 min prior to departure. Taken at face value, the Kelleys weren’t.

    Sorry the Kelleys had a bad start to the trip but it sounds like they needed some planning help that may have kept it from happening.

    1. Here’s a typical mistake DIYers do. They do not consider the RISKS correctly.
      Assume a trip from Boston to Anchorage. Jetblue has an excellent flight:
      B6 907Q BOS ANC 450P 1124P
      but it will cost about $835.17 for this Q class fare.

      So people figure out a way to save money. They take this instead:
      1 B6 117V BOS JFK 1146A 1258P
      2 B6 213V JFK LGB 220P 514P
      3 B6 500Z LGB ANC 725P 1136P
      for only $661.15.
      It is cheaper because it is an end-on-end combination of 2 fares BOS-LGB + LGB-ANC.

      However on some days, the connection at JFK is tighter.
      1 B6 117Y BOS JFK 1146A 1258P
      2 B6 213Y JFK LGB 140P 437P
      3 B6 500Y LGB ANC 725P 1142P

      The minimum connection time in JFK for B6 online flights is only 35 minutes for the same terminal. But there is not much buffer in case something goes wrong.
      In fact if you take this convoluted route, your only way to recover is to go back to Boston and take the BOS-ANC flight at 420PM 🙂

      No special reason why people should not DIY. But if they do, they just need to possess enough knowledge to correctly evaluate the fitness of the flights presented to them by a website.

      1. And the “back-track” plan ain’t going to work on a JFK-BOS on a Friday afternoon; I expect there are very few empty seats on those flights due to all the business travelers trying to get home. (And since many of those business travelers are full-fare, they can re-book to a nice mid-afternoon flight if their meetings end early.)

    2. I don’t know why airlines don’t just pad their flight times more. Since most consumers buy based upon price or routing, an extra half hour or so won’t make a big difference.

      Another reminder of the good old days is a classic Seinfeld joke about a pilot who announced that they were delayed by a half hour, but he’d just fly faster to get there on time. Seinfeld asked: “Why don’t you just fly as fast as possible? Is there a traffic cop up there?” The answer is FUEL costs as well as gate allocation. Airlines don’t want planes getting there early when another plane needs to leave from that gate before. Perhaps airlines don’t want to burn the fuel to make up for lost time anymore.

      1. The answer is two fold… 1. Airplanes are big, expensive assets that don’t make money at the gate. They only make money when they fly so the airlines are looking to optimize the number of hours they fly in a given day. 2. DOT rates them on their on time stats so their flight times tend to be based of weather being present so they can still be on time even in a thunderstorm (you’ll notice longer flight times during the winter to account for deicing… no ice you arrive early.)

  6. I can’t fault JetBlue for leaving early; it’s well-known (and, I believe, part of the contract) that domestic flights “close” 10 (or is it 15?) minutes before departure. The departure time is the time the pilot is supposed to release the parking brake, but what’s really relevant to passengers is the “closing” time.

    Trip insurance would have been ideal here; it is designed to cover situations like this.

    In addition, if missing arrival by just a few minutes (which happens All. The. Time. at any NYC-area airport) causes you to miss your connection, you booked your connection too tight. Just because a connection is “legal” at an airport doesn’t mean you should accept it if you really, really, have to make that flight. (I’ve seen computer booking engines offer 35-minute connecting times onto international flights! That’s insane.) Thanks to the helpful info posted by TonyA in this article, we can see that they had all of 42 minutes to make their connection. When you subtract 15 minutes to make the “flight closing” time and ten minutes to get off the flight from Boston, you can see that there was all of 17 minutes of slack. In JFK. On a Friday. (Where every alternate flight from NY to the LA area is going to be running full of business travelers trying to get home.)

    I suspect the agent “snapped” at them because they were peppering her with questions about re-accommodation while she was trying to close out the paperwork for the departing flight, which has to be done before the flight takes off. Whenever I’ve missed a flight, the gate agent always has a few minutes of paperwork to do before he/she can start processing passengers that didn’t make the flight.

    1. I think it’s 15 minutes and at that point, the pilot is free to get out of the gate as soon as he (or she) can.

      I have read of a few frequent fliers complaining that they check in and go to the lounge and grab a drink and relax and then come out 20 minutes before the flight to scheduled to leave and see it’s pushed out of the gate. That is just plain wrong.

  7. Here are the facts. You decide.

    JetBlue Airways 117
    (BOS) Boston, MA, US to (JFK) New York, NY, US
    Scheduled Arrival:
    12:58 PM – Fri May-30-2014
    Actual Arrival:
    1:34 PM – Fri May-30-2014

    Landed – Delayed 36 minutes
    Arrival Gate:
    25 (Terminal 5)

    JetBlue Airways 213
    (JFK) New York, NY, US to (LGB) Long Beach, CA, US
    Scheduled Departure:
    1:40 PM – Fri May-30-2014
    Actual Departure:
    1:37 PM – Fri May-30-2014

    Landed – On-time
    Departure Gate:
    17 (Terminal 5)

    Go figure how you can make it between flights in 3 minutes.
    Even if the JFK-LGB departed at 140PM as scheduled, that’s only 6 minutes after the door opened for the BOS-JFK flight at Gate 25, Terminal 5.

      1. Here’s how insane their DIY plan is.

        What they did:
        1 B6 117Y BOSJFK 1146A 1258P
        2 B6 213Y JFKLGB 140P 437P
        3 B6 500Y LGBANC 725P 1142P


        What they should have done:
        1 B6 907Y BOSANC 420P 1040P

        1. There are some things more valuable than money… such as time. I understand being price conscious, but leaving 5 hours earlier, getting there 1 hour later, each leg of the flight a potential problem (as they found out). I’m not sure I could save enough to endure that hassle.

          1. When it’s come to a direct flight versus a connection, $100 per person to me is a bargain. In addition, my wife views landing/takeoffs as stressful so she seeks to avoid too many of them at one time as possible. I cannot even imagine all the whining I’d have to deal with on a three flight segment such as the above…

            We’ve also developed this attitude when it comes to international travel: Getting an airport near our destination is worth something as compared to schlepping from the major airport.

  8. Even if the flight from Boston had been on time the LW would have had a tough time making the connection at JFK. Not a smart purchasing decision regarding this airfare. And I do not see that JetBlue promised them anything. A JetBlue representative “suggesting” the company might compensate the traveler or “mentioning that they could potentially refund the difference in the fares” is not making a promise of a refund. It is saying they will look into it. I do not think JetBlue’s representative at the airport should have said that and left it to customer service, but at no point do I see where they promised to refund the fare difference. When someone tells me maybe or possibly I understand that no actual decision has been made.

  9. I remember when (don’t you hate it when people say “I remember when”?) you could run from one end of a gate in a terminal to the other end of another terminal and still get on the plane, so long as you were there before scheduled departure. Not 15 minutes before, but the time listed on the ticket. Or, you could speak to the gate agent and ask him/her to call to the other gate to let them know you were on your way – and the gate agent would do that, and the gate agent at the other end would hustle you on board.

    Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. A couple times recently, I’ve arrived late from one leg to find that my connecting flight has already left its gate, even though departure isn’t listed for another 15 minutes. Not just the door closed, but the plane out there in the middle of a runway! I hate it, but there’s nothing I can do about the situation. I’ve learned (thanks to you folks here) to have a list of options available for me, so I can get a later flight with a minimum of fuss. I’ve tried to keep connecting times “real”, but if one flight is delayed, well, you’re SOL. Such is the reality of air travel today.

    1. No US based airline has ever waited for me. Ever.

      The only time an airline waited for me in my entire traveling history was last year when I was connecting through Toronto on AC and the inbound flight was an hour late and US customs was working even slower than normal. They held the plane for 90 minutes for all 26 of us to get there (so they weren’t actually waiting for me this time either 😉 ). The only reason I feel they held the flight is because it was the last leg of the day for that plane and crew and the plane was the last flight of the day to where I was going. It was much more financially beneficial to AC to wait than to put 26 of us in hotels in Toronto for the night.

      1. Believe it or not, United and Continental both waited for me and my husband at various times. How long ago was that? Well, I was pregnant with my younger son during one harrowing connection in ORD – and he turns 33 this year. 😉

        1. I remember flying home from West Point my freshman year (in uniform), DL actually reopened a flight (ie jetway pushed back flight ready to back out) for a group of us after a mechanical delay caused us to be late for the connection. I really don’t see that happening now.

          1. I was in ALB one year and saw that happen. It was a prop plane, the door was closed, props were moving and they stopped to board a lady.

        2. I have been on several DL international flights from Atlanta that have waited for late arriving connections. The longest was last year and the flight was delayed over an hour as we waited for an incoming flight from Mexico. Around 50 people were on the incoming flight so it made sense to wait. And we still arrived in London before the originally scheduled time. But have not seen them wait for delayed connections on domestic flights in years.

        3. I had United hold a plane for my family once back in the early 90s. That was about it. Our flight was canceled and they put a bunch of us us on an earlier one and told us to run (It was in a different wing of the terminal). We got there and they waived all of us on and shut the door.

          About 3 years ago, I was in SFO and got to check in and asked to go standby on an earlier flight. The agent said there is a flight leaving in 20 minutes and he called the gate, said he got me a confirmed seat and told me they said they would hold the plane and told me to run. There was no line at TSA and I got the the gate in only 5 minutes. The door was closed and the gate agent said, “Oh, you’re the guy they called about, I don’t hold planes for nobody.” I said are yous serious, its T-15, I got here on-time. She said she made sure to close early because she doesn’t like people who request planes be held. She added that, “I made sure to mark you as a no-show so you can’t re-use your ticket.” I was floored by her comments. What a bad person. I spoke to a supervisor in customer service who spoke to the check in agent, and the gate agent. I don’t know what was done. But I was put on the next flight in first class.

          1. Another instance showing how United is bad. I’ve had similar dealings with United agents. What an incredible lout she was!

          2. Actually pre-merger, this was one of the few problems I ever had with UA, they were generally quite good to me. I had a similarly bad GA in LAX once too.

          3. But at least the supervisors fixed the problem, altho you missed your original flight. I guess they didn’t want you to write in and relate what the lout said to you.

      2. There were 15 passengers connecting from PHL to SFO at LAX for the last flight to SFO for the night and UA held the plane for us. Onboard, the FA told me that she has been a gate agent and if our flight was ending in SFO for the night, they would probably hold the plane, and they did.

        1. Always a crap shoot as to whether they can hold a flight or not, so always book enough time. (Good rule of thumb is where that plane needs to be the next AM – and how many are stranded if they DO leave on time). And of course, people complained so loudly about on-time performance, the airlines are now given no real latitude in most cases – no mercy at all if they get a huge fine.

    2. For the Christmas holidays last year I was flying PHL-HOU via ATL on Southwest. Late night flight and we were delayed in Philly. They delayed our plane in ATL by forty minutes so the dozen or so of us making the connection wouldn’t miss the last plane of the night to Houston.

      1. That’s Southwest. I’ve been on a couple flights that have been held (10-15 minutes) for passengers from connections. I don’t mind, because one day they might be holding a flight for me.

  10. Which clock were they using as a reference? Jet Blue’s or someone in their group’s wristwatch?

    It seems strange that Jet Blue (or any airline for that matter) would leave several passengers behind when they knew the connecting flight was just a few minutes late. What it sounds like to me is the OP and group booked their own itinerary probably saving a few dollars and the flights were on separate PNRs. Airlines restrict how you connect for a reason, and it is not just them being greedy and wanting more money, it is so they can insure you make your flights without these types of issues (although some on an airline I will not name here are ridiculously close timing that I am afraid of booking). Personally I would have paid the extra money (looks like about $100 per person if you book something today from BOS to ANC) and not had to make the extra connections or worry about not being reaccomodated due to a situation exactly like what happened here. And I would have had travel insurance.

    The OP gambled and lost. Lesson learned even though it was an expensive one.

    1. Well, if you scroll down, you can find that TonyA dug up the data for this flight; it actually left 3 minutes early. But since that door would have been long-closed, it doesn’t really matter. JetBlue probably left people “standing at the gate” as both JFK and LGB are VERY slot-controlled airports and if they missed their slot due to having to process late passengers, the flight would have ended up departing very late.

      They probably were on a single PNR, as the 42 minutes they allowed is a legal connection, even if it’s a terrible idea in JFK on a Friday afternoon when you really have to get where you want to go.

      1. I meant separate PNRs for the LGB ANC portion of the flight. That’s the only way mere mortals who are not travel agents can book this itinerary. And I would like to believe that no travel agent would book something like this for a customer.

        1. Oh, you don’t have to try too hard. Very easy to DIY this problem.
          Just go to expedia and see. You can do:
          BOS-AUS-LGB-ANC or
          BOS-JFK-LGB-ANC or some crazier route 🙂

          1. So, who hooks the flights together for an itinerary? Expedia, or jetBlue? If not jetBlue, then who takes responsibility for a mishap?

          2. Expedia created a legitimate journey based on valid Jetblue fares.
            For as long as the minimum connection times are observed and the fare rules allow both the route and fare combinations (end-on-end), the ticket is good.

            If there is a delay and the delay can be attributed to the carrier, then the reaccommodation rules and refund rules play out.

            Would a smart traveler take these itineraries? It depends.
            If you are going to ANC to take a cruise, I don’t think this is a smart decision at all. If you plan to get to ANC several days ahead of the cruise, then maybe. But I have to believe Alaska Air offers a much better itinerary than this. Maybe spending few bucks more is worth it.

          3. I find this routing to come up in my GDS, so Expedia is only showing what the carrier allows, right?

          4. Yes, they are observing B6 fare rules.
            Remember you can combine fares end-on-end BOS-JFK-LGB/SEA + LGB/SEA-ANC to make a through journey.
            These are all legit fares but that does not make them *nice* trips.
            IMO, the LW picked an extremely risky fight.

          5. The carrier. The only way you can piecemeal an itinerary is to do it segment by segment and I don’t believe you can do that online.

          6. No, this route BOS-JFK-LGB-ANC for B6 come out naturally in GDS.
            They are valid. Look at attached pic.

          7. Since I only book directly through an airline’s web page when I do it myself, I would never have the expedia experience of booking such a flight combo. 😉

          8. And AA was $472 for flights with one stopover. Why would anyone not check ALL flights, not just JB and book one that has the least connections?

        2. Even when a TA books you, unscrupulous airlines will try to shaft you. Happened to me several times, but I stood my ground. Stories are too long and boring for here……

    2. Hey guys – I connect to a late August cruise BOS-ANC you see a fare of $358 R/T from Friday to a Monday departure 10 days later. They could not have spent much less than that on B6. . . .

  11. TWO minutes before a flight???? You STILL have to be at the gate 20 minutes before, so 2 minutes makes no difference whatsoever in this case. Once they had boarded everyone, they could pull away from the gate – just happens they did it in good time, with 2 minutes to spare.

  12. The gate agent should have a list of “inbound connects” and make sure all reasonably delayed passengers are accounted for. Of course, if the BOS-JFK segment was booked separate from the rest it would not show.
    Why couldn’t JB rebooked them on the later JFK-SEA-ANC flights, if they were operating on May 30?
    To add insult to injury, that departure from JFK is now scheduled at 2:20p.
    If you had to run from one flight to the other, take comfort in knowing your luggage would not have made it anyway, and you’d have to take your cruise without clothing. Which, apparently, happened unless they were able to retrieve their luggage at JFK from JB and check with DL.
    Unless you live 14 miles from the cruiseport, you should ALWAYS plan on a hotel stay the night before your cruise IN the city of the cruise departure.

    1. Gate agent does NOT control slot times – ATC does. When THEY order the gate closed and the plane out, no “waiting for a few” is going to make a difference. And if the later flight was full, the next day may have been their only choice at that point.

    2. It is likely the flight JFK-SEA-ANC was sold out and no space was available for them to be rebooked on that flight.

    3. You asked a very good question – why didn’t Jetblue put them on the JFK-SEA-ANC flight? Here is the obvious answer. The flights arrives in Seattle too late for the Anchorage departure on May 30.
      B6 263 JFK SEA 525P 839P
      B6 907 SEA ANC 815P 1040P

    4. It was a Friday afternoon in JFK. Flights are jam-packed with business travelers heading home; I can’t remember the last time I’ve been on a Friday-afternoon flight out of a major business destination that was not completely full.

      1. You know what’s worse?
        Try to pick up a passenger at T4 (Delta) at night peak time.
        It will take more than the minimum connection time to get from the main road to the passenger pick up area (that’s a few hundred feet I think).

  13. If they only knew that their BOS – JFK Jetblue flight (B6 117) had only a 68% on-time performance rating.
    Source: bit dot ly/1mv8FGu

    This flight has an average delay of 40 minutes with a standard deviation
    of 68.61 minutes…

    What a way to start and doom a great vacation?

    Hey folks, come here on Elliott’s and read a few cases and comments before you DIY your trip. Maybe you’ll learn something.

  14. This is one of the many reasons why I try to avoid LCCs at all costs. First, they have very few flights, so they usually can’t re-accommodate you for a couple of days. Secondly, they almost never re-accommodate passengers on another airline regardless of the situation. When B6 has 1 flight a day, F9 has one flight every other day, and a legacy carrier has 3 flights a day, I am going to choose the legacy carrier, and I am going to choose the earliest flight just in case something happens.

    1. That’s why they are cheaper, something’s missing in the equation 🙂
      There’s a cost to reaccommodation, flight redundancy, and endorsement arrangements. Go cheap and lose it.

    2. JetBlue is no longer a low cost carrier. Their fares are often much more than American and especially Delta.

      1. LCC refers to their operating costs and structure, not their ticket prices. LCC’s can be more expensive than Legacy or mainline carries either before or after their ancillary fees. JetBlue is still classified as a LCC in the industry.

  15. When an airline can’t deliver you on time because of a mechanical problem, it is obligated to arrange another flight. It’s an industry standard. If, as in this case, there was no later Jet Blue to accommodate the passengers, JB is required to arrange travel on another carrier. When this happens (“interlining”) the first carrier has to be the one to arrange the flight on the second carrier. This typically takes place according to a prearranged contract between the two carriers for irregular operations.
    Where the passenger went wrong here, besides not allowing an extra day for crappy air service, was not to have insisted on getting an interline booking made right at the time the connecting flight was missed. By his account, there were several other passengers who had also missed the early-departing connection, and who may have also needed ongoing flights. Just like all the other times, he got a verbal agreement that was not worth the paper it wasn’t printed on.

    1. Sorry man you are spreading false hope. There is no DOT rule that an airline HAS to endorse your ticket over to another airline. If you want that, you better do some research about which airline will endorse (or accept) another airline’s ticket.

      People want choices and they got them. They just have to get smarter on what they buy, where they buy, and when they buy.

      ADDED: They left Boston on Friday and their cruise embarks on Saturday.
      Jetblue offered them a reaccommodation for the next day.
      Jetblue has absolutely no responsibility for their cruise. They are responsible for getting them to ANC safely and as early as possible. In this case Saturday.

      1. It may not be a DOT rule, but it’s standard procedure, as well known to frequent flyers as “We’re not responsible for weather.” And JB is supposed to be one of those friendly airlines. As we have noted in the last few weeks, that reputation seems to be fraying radically. It’s time to cross Jet Blue off our list.

        1. It is observed at times for LEGACY airlines since they have decade old interline (bilateral) relationships with other US domestic carriers. Jetblue (B6) interlines mostly with foreign airlines

          Here are B6’s e-ticketing agreements. You think anyone of these carriers will take you to ANC from JFK and not violate cabotage rules?

          AT – BA – BB – CA – CI – CX – EI – EK – EY – FI
          HA – HU – IB – JJ – JL – KA – KE – LA – LH – LI
          LO – LP – LY – MS – OZ – QR – SA – SN – SQ – TK
          VS – XL – 3M – 4C – 4M – 9K – 9W

          DL/AS/UA/AA do not have e-ticket agreements with B6 so they will not take a B6 ticket coupon. How else are you going to ANC?

        2. It is not a standard procedure and jetblue doesn’t have any reciprocal interline agreements nor does Southwest or any other low cost carrier regardless of the reasons for misconnecting

    2. @Alan Gore:disqus Everything that I’ve read is that jetblue doesn’t endorse tickets. They either, reroute you on their network or refund you. That’s pretty standard for LCCs. Spirit & Southwest have the same policies I think.

      1. F9 also has the same policy. I have a friend who just got stranded for 3 days because the route she was on only flew 1 plane a day and all flights were sold out for 3 days. She miss-connected in DEN due to a late inbound aircraft, and they wouldn’t endorse her to another airline or pay for a hotel or food. All of this to save $40.

        1. Which is why I do everything possible to not have to connect. I would rather pay a few dollars more to go non stop than risk missing a connection because of things out of my control.

          I realize that many people don’t have the luxury of choosing non stop flights because they are not lucky enough to live near a hub, but why add complexity to an already complex itinerary with unnecessary connections?

    3. JetBlue does not follow “industry standard.” They do not have interline, reciprocal agreements with other carriers. You are totally at their mercy if your flight is delayed or cancelled.

    4. JetBlue is “obligated” to arrange travel on another carrier? Says who? The “discount” airlines rarely endorse tickets over to other carriers. (And it’s getting more rare on the “legacy” carriers too.)

      The only requirement is that they either refund your ticket or put you on their next available flight. (Your option.)

    5. JetBlue doesn’t have reciprocal agreements with many other airlines, thus they can’t so what you suggest. It is obvious that the connecting flight did not have enough time in between the flights. She did not state it was a significant maintenance delay. The problem is I am betting there was less than a hour in connecting flights which is just too short to make a connection. We always tell clients to leave at LEAST an hour and a half in between connections and better 2 hours or more.

    6. Glad Tony said it for me. It is NOT “standard procedure” by any means anymore. Please don’t spread misinformation.

    7. if the airlines does not interline – like Southwest and JetBlue – then you are not entitled to transport on another carrier at their expense.

    8. NO – they are not “required” to put you on another carrier – there is no DOT rule requiring that, it is just something most legacy carriers do so they can use the same service when needed. And if the cause for the missed flight was YOU and not THEM, not gonna happen anyway!

  16. The stated arrival time of a flight is not necessarily the time you will actually be able to deplane. It can take anywhere from 5-20 minutes to deplane. That really cuts your connection time short, especially considering the need to be at the gate 15-20 minutes prior to departure. I wish connection times of less than an hour were not “legal” connection times.

  17. “she should have pulled out her iPhone and taped it.” -CE
    That captures the essence of solving the problem.

      1. At least she would have a record of an agent of the airline’s giving her a promise of a consideration. Don’t know if it would sway the airline brass, but it would look nice on Youtube….

          1. Love that video. I’ve felt like that a time or two, but never acted on it. ⊙_ʘ

          2. It is never ok to act like this ever. I don’t care if you are missing a funeral, sure go kick and scream in private all you want, be angry but control behaviors. We as adults can’t tell and expect children to “act right” when adult’s can’t control themselves in public. I’m just saying!

        1. But she didn’t promise …. what the supervisor said was “A supervisor at the desk mentioned that they could potentially refund us the difference between the two flights, so that’s what we figured we’d do”

          That’s a maybe not a promise they would and its cherry picked out of a conversation. It could have started with “They probably won’t but they could potentially …”

  18. Ah, the best laid plans (which this wasn’t). Do not get involved – you can’t fix bad choices after the fact. Why in the world did she chose to fly through JFK? That is adding unnecessary complexity, and just asking for trouble. Why not connect through SEA or PDX, which would have significantly shortened the time spent in the air (and in airports)? Both have direct JB flights to/from BOS. Why not Alaska, who also has direct flights to BOS from SEA and PDX, with service to ANC?

    Stuff happens. The best we can do is give Murphy fewer opportunities to rear his troublesome head, and you do that by keeping it simple.

    (PS: There’s a great post by TonyA comparing the OP’s itinerary to a direct flight, which I didn’t see before writing this. I didn’t know there was a direct option betw BOS and ANC.)

  19. The early departure seems to make this JetBlue’s fault, and justifies greater reimbursement than the standard “next flight out” approach.

    1. Wrong. It is stated clearly in JetBlue’s CoC and itinerary documentation that passengers must be onboard at least 15 minutes prior to departure, or risk denied boarding without compensation. The airline has the operational discretion to push a flight within that window, even if checked-in customers aren’t present. Since both the arrival and departure airports are slot-controlled and therefore subject to significant delay, JetBlue wants to get the aircraft out ASAP.

      1. Actually Jet Blues CoC states they must appear at least 20 minutes in advance. Most legacy carriers are 15.

        1. For international, yes. Domestic is 15 according to their website:

          Each customer must be onboard the aircraft 15 minutes prior to departure.
          Any customer not onboard, even if they have checked in and received a boarding pass, may be denied boarding and will not be entitled to denied boarding compensation.

          1. Oh good catch. Domestic doesn’t even mention when they need to be at the gate, just on-board 15 minutes in advance. The only reference to gate arrival is for 20 minutes, and only listed under international.

      2. I’m not talking about what the rules say, I’m talking about whose fault it is. Airlines commonly hold planes for passengers arriving on another flight on that airline. They may have had the RIGHT to do what they did, but it is still their fault that she wasn’t on the plane — due to the early departure — and to me that justifies greater reimbursement. But, yes, they are not legally obligated to do that. Not the point.

        1. Perhaps the passenger shouldn’t have booked a roundabout itinerary with a tight connection at one of the world’s busiest airports on a Friday afternoon. It’s not worth it to JetBlue to hold the plane for a handful of passengers and risk missing slots at both departure and arrival airports, resulting in lengthy delays for all other passengers through no fault of their own. If you read below, you’ll see that she had six minutes from the actual arrival of her BOS-JFK flight until her scheduled JFK-LGB departure. I would bet any sum of money that there’s no way she’d even be off her first flight in six minutes, much less be able to connect onto another for an on-time push.

          1. That explanation makes it even worse. You’re saying it would have been impossible for her to make her JFK flight. It is outrageous for JetBlue to be selling itineraries that are impossible to complete.

          2. Did you even read the letter?! The itinerary had a 42-minute connect time (legal for sale), but the first leg was delayed, resulting in a significantly shorter connection at JFK.

          3. I did read the letter. I misread your last comment as talking about the scheduled arrival time, not the actual arrival time.So, I’m back to my original view, then. They could have held the plane. They were certainly entitled not to, and are entitled not to compensate her. But since they could have NOT LEFT EARLY, I think they ought to compensate her more. You are free to disagree.

            No need for you to be a jerk about it, though.

          4. THEY don’t make that decision ATC does – not going to hold a flight for a couple of people with poor planning when they have tight schedules to maintain in the first place.

          5. I was under the impression that the airline decides when it is ready to push back from the gate, then gets permission to do that from ATC, and after that ATC is fully in charge. Is that incorrect?

          6. If ATC gives them a wheels up time during boarding which is 99 percent of the time then the airline can make their departure slot or get screwed by having a work in departure time from atc resulting in a very LONG ground hold. Technically a airline decides to hold flights or not but it is based on atc issued take off slots. Yeah if your in a out station smaller airspace no biggie but missing a takeoff slot in the busiest airspaces (HUBS) can mean hours of waiting to get back in line to take off. Folks there’s no runways attached to the gates. Why do I get the feeling sometimes that people who demand to know why they can’t just hold connections for a few minutes are also sometimes caught wondering why they aren’t wheels up right at the very time the ticket says “departure?

          7. I take it things have changed, then. It used to be standard practice to hold planes in situations like LW’s. I guess if that’s changed, then maybe this isn’t as much JetBlue’s responsibility as I originally thought. Not that anybody made any announcement when they stopped holding planes for connecting passengers sprinting through the airport.

          8. if it’s the last flight of the day or a small airport then yeah it typically isn’t a big deal but holding a flight in a hub or busy airspace for even 5 minutes can turn into every single remaining flight that aircraft is scheduled to make for the day being delayed resulting in hundreds of passengers missing connections all day long…..it’s not as easy as people think. I would love to “call ahead” for people but it has nothing to do with them knowing where the passenger is. They know. They have her PNR. It has to do with the consequences of holding it like are we going to miss our alloted take off slot resulting in a very long wait for another one or is it going to make this aircraft run late for the rest of the day resluting in hundreds of late people….i hope that makes sense. they never thought this many people would fly on a regular basis and all it takes is something as simple as making a go around or stopping on the taxiway for someone to use the lav to cause what may seem like a 5 minute stop turn into a 30 minute delay backing up every aircraft behind it as well like a stack of dominos

          9. Correct to a point – the airline is given a window by ATC, then lets them know they are ready, ATC confirms or holds – and when they say go – you go! 🙂

      3. Which flight must the passenger be on board for? If they are on board for the initial departing flight and misconnect because of an airline related problem – such as a late departure from BOS due to late crew the night before – Jetblue KNEW about that problem and had an affirmative obligaiton to contact its passengers. . .

        I had a situation where my trip from BDL-HNL would have misconnected in ORD because the flight crew the night before the flight came in late – I had checked up on that issue the night before and spent 30 min on the phone with the airline telling their staff that that their morning departure would be 90 min late due to crew rest. . . . and that we would misconnect to Honolulu. Finally someone engaged a brain and put us on another flight that connected someplace else – and all was well – and yes – the flight we were on actually departed 2 hours late – and they told people is was weather related. . . . and refused to accommodate others that I knew were traveling to other destinations.

        when an airline lies to you about the reasons for the misconnect or erratic operation – should have consequences.

    2. As long as the door was not closed early, it doesn’t matter when the flight actually pushed back from the gate.

  20. Why the heck would ANYONE book the connecting flights she booked? That is absolutely ridiculous. She should have booked TWO days in advance with those crazy flights. Three legs to get there? They could have purchased a MULTITUDE of other flights with one connection on other airlines. a good travel agent would have told them they were crazy and the connecting flight times were certainly not enough, even if their flight from NY DID leav e on time. Never connect with less than at least an hour on a flight.

    I also can’t believe that someone from JetBlue would have made a statement saying they would pay the difference and you are right – she should have pulled out her cellphone and recorded that.

    Lesson learned by them – book a one connection flight when you can instead of that ridiculous route.

    1. The agent never promised the refund… They said maybe JB “COULD POTENTIALLY” refund it. There is no guarantee in any of those words. I would LOVE it if there was a recording of that statement, since it would prove to be in JB’s favor.

    2. Have to agree that so many connections was asking for trouble. I wonder how much money was the difference between one connection and three. I bet it was less than $5,000.

  21. Isn’t a major part of the issue the fact that the OP cut the timing way too close? Flying in the day before the cruise and paying for a hotel room would have been a bargain compared to the walk-up airfare and would have provided a bit of a safety net. And then there’s the unnecessarily circuitous route to save a few bucks. Talk about penny wise, pound foolish.

    1. Well, technically they did fly in “a day ahead of time”, but they confused this common advice with the idea that what it really means “leave enough time for ‘Plan B'”.

  22. I use to fly with SWISS and they are quite psycho about the exact time. When the flight is scheduled to depart at 12:00 usually they don’t close the door at 11:59:55 (even everybody confirmed already on board), They close it at 12:00:00. I find it amazing. I went to school in Geneva and most of the time the Trains and the Bus arrive at scheduled time at + or – 5 secondes. I really don’t know how they manage to do it. It’s a mystery to me.

    1. The departure time in the US is actually measured when the blocks are removed from the aircraft wheels. This is after the aircraft door is closed and jetbridge pulled back.

      1. Which means even when the airline reports a flight as departing “on time’ it could have still sat at the gate for another hour or two without moving. Happened to me just last Sunday.

        1. It’s possible. But it would be reported late on the other end. The scenario you describe typically happens when the pilots know they will be delayed but get paid based on when they “depart”.

          1. (Gate) OUT time is recorded when Parking brake released, all doors are closed. You cannot just sit at the gate for a long time with parking brake released. Can you?

          2. Assumming you can park in the tarmac (note tarmac delay rule), you still have to contend with new O O I timings. Your runway depart and arrival times (the two Os) and your gate arrival time (I) will have to be updated.

      2. it’s not usually the chocks being removed, it’s the pilot releasing the brake. which is why @MarkKelling:disqus’s example would NOT be shown by the DOT as an “ontime” departure.

      3. airlines pay their staff block time – from the moment the airplane starts moving to the time the airplane stops moving at the respective gates – that time is well known.

  23. What do we learn from this? Before booking air, particularly a complex itinerary, have a look at flights after yours. Be sure that you can actually reach your destination before your cruise starts. Never book the last flight out for the day, unless you don’t mind getting a hotel and resuming your trip the next day. This is a really rotten, expensive way to learn that lesson.

  24. Over our many (to us at least) travels the past 12+ years, we’ve adopted three flight booking principles that have saved us from situations like these:

    1. Where possible, allow at least 1.5-2 hours when changing planes. Otherwise a delay could prove fatal (as it did for the AP here).
    2. Always have a Plan B. For us, that means at least one flight that day after the one on which we’re booked. Alternatively, we may fly the day before or have enough wiggle room that a next day flight will still get us there with time to spare.
    3. For time-critical travel at our destination (mostly cruises in our case), we set a goal to be at the destination airport the night before (vs. flying in the next morning).

    Much more relaxing for us since, knowing we have contingencies …

  25. I don’t know why someone would think that several thousand dollars would be payable in compensation. Jetblue’s responsibility is to get you safely to your destination. Everyone knows delays can happen which is why it is important to arrive early for weddings, cruise ships, etc. it is simply not JetBlue’s problem.

  26. everyone knows that airlines are not contractually obligated to get you to your destination – they are contractually obligated to refund your money if they do not operate the flight. That’s it.

    Instead of wasting political capital over full disclosure of air fare, Mr. Elliott should support a regulatory scheme to require airlines to fully and completely disclose the reasons for their schedule ‘difficulties.’ Airlines that lie to customers or who are found responsible for ‘clear misrepresentation of facts and rights of compensation’ should be held liable for all compensatory damages reasonably incurred by their customer. . . .

    No one is charged for an airline ticket without knowing the final cost – you can always say No. . . .

    And to the OP – don’t be such a cheap SOB – you spend $3-5k for a weekly Alaska cruise when its all said and done – and you are too cheap to spend an extra $50 a ticket to nonstop from Boston to Seattle? You got what you deserved –

  27. Listen. When will neophytes learn that you travel the day before to catch your cruise and not the day of? Every veteran cruiser knows this and even people who do basic cruise research online know this. Guess they learned this the hard way:-(

      1. Wait a minute. Had more time to dig. Three connecting flights? On a discount airline? Two days would’ve been better but still any savings would be negated by extra hotel nights. No travel insurance either?

        1. I agree with those flights she should have flown in 2 days early. And there wasn’t even a significant savings on the flights – she could have done a single connection for the same price.

  28. Frankly, I would put the blame where it belongs, on the passengers. You were trying to get to AK from MA and only leaving the day before your cruise. Plus, you were taking a convoluted route that involved making two connecting flights, with one of them being through an extremely busy airport.

    This itinerary had “Epic Fail” written all over it before the first plane took off.

    I would try an itinerary like that only if I was leaving two days early.

    As an FYI, I was once trying to get from Miami FL to Rochester NY as inexpensively as possible. I fly 99% of the time on American because of their connections to cities I need to get to and they have the best FF program.

    As God is my witness, the cheapest booking AA offered me for MIA to ROC as follows: MIA to DFW, DFW to LAX, LAX to ORD, ORD to ROC! If I had the time and needed a mileage run, I think I would have made Platinum after that routing! I seriously considered it until I noticed my time between flights in LAX was 45 minutes.

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