What to do about the travel industry’s timeout clauses

Isak/Shutterstock
Isak/Shutterstock
A casual observer might have thought that Anthony LaMesa was booking a last-minute JetBlue Airways ticket from New York to Cancun, Mexico, on a whim, perhaps to escape the frigid winter weather.

Appearances can be deceiving, though. LaMesa needed to fly to Mexico for emergency dental care. But when he found treatment closer to home, he discovered that he couldn’t change his ticket.

“When I booked this ticket, I thought I had the 24-hour cancellation window for a flight, which has been publicized all over the news,” he says. He didn’t. The 24-hour rule has an important, but often unarticulated, catch: It doesn’t apply to flights booked fewer than seven days in advance.
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Happy holidays? JetBlue slams grieving grandson with booking fee, walk-up fare

Micha Klootwijk / Shutterstock.com
Micha Klootwijk / Shutterstock.com
If an airline tells you it offers a more humane way to travel, should you hold it to that promise?

That’s the question raised by David Seltzer’s case on JetBlue Airways, a case that comes to us at an appropriate time of year.

Seltzer’s grandfather died unexpectedly a few months ago, and he immediately paid JetBlue a walk-up fare of $1,258 to fly from Long Beach, Calif., to New York, so he could be with his family. JetBlue then piled on the fees, charging him $20 for a phone booking and then hitting him with a $104 fare differential when he had to change his return flight again.

Seltzer then did what many distraught passengers do after the funeral. He politely asked the airline to adjust the price to a so-called “bereavement” fare. After all, Seltzer wasn’t just a random passenger requesting a fare adjustment, but a loyal, card-carrying JetBlue frequent flier, according to his mother, who contacted me for help.
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Is JetBlue scaring passengers into buying travel insurance?

Christopher Parypa / Shutterstock.com
Christopher Parypa / Shutterstock.com

If you’re a frequent flier, maybe you’ve already been roughed up by an airline, rhetorically speaking. I try to stay away from planes myself. I fly very infrequently and I book airline tickets even less.

When I have a choice in domestic airlines, I prefer to fly on JetBlue or Southwest. They’re just my kind of carriers.

It’s a personal choice.

But this afternoon, as I was booking a seat from Orlando to Washington, and after getting through what seemed like a dozen irritating “upsell” screens, JetBlue showed me this:
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Oh no! JetBlue breaks guitars, too?

jetblueAdd the word “breaks guitars” after any company, and everyone knows exactly what you’re talking about.

“Breaks guitars” is synonymous with terrible service, bureaucracy and corporate arrogance. And you’d expect an airline to be particularly sensitive to it.

For those of you who missed the whole United Breaks Guitars episode, here’s a recap: Back in 2009, United Airlines destroyed country musician David Carroll’s checked guitar and then basically ignored his damage claim.
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When do JetBlue’s vouchers expire? Whenever it says they do

Christopher Parypa / Shutterstock.com
Christopher Parypa / Shutterstock.com

JetBlue is one of only a few airlines that issues flight vouchers when a fare drops after you book it, and if you use a service like Yapta, you can get notified when the price of your ticket falls.

But is the voucher worth anything? That’s what Jerry Gershner wants to know — and if I agree with his interpretation, he’d like me to help him fix it. I’m not sure if I do (or if I can) but maybe you can help me sort it out.

Here’s what happened to him: A few weeks ago, he booked JetBlue tickets for him and his wife.

“One day after I purchased these tickets, the fare dropped by $50,” he says.

He called JetBlue, which issued two $50 vouchers. So far, so good.
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Does JetBlue owe her anything for amorous passenger incident?

Sunshine Pics/Shutterstock
Sunshine Pics/Shutterstock
To say that Cristi Mitchell felt uncomfortable on a recent JetBlue Airways flight from Phoenix to Boston might be something of an understatement.

During the redeye flight, an amorous couple seated across from her partner and her 8-year-old son engaged in several sex acts. No need to go into details, but let’s just say they covered every angle.

“I was shocked and really uncomfortable,” she said. When she mentioned the behavior to a flight attendant, the crewmember tried to stop the copulating passengers.
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“There were angels all around me on that JetBlue flight”

Christopher Parypa / Shutterstock.com
Christopher Parypa / Shutterstock.com
Early boarding privileges are typically reserved for frequent fliers and passengers with obvious disabilities. But on a recent JetBlue Airways flight from Boston to Los Angeles, gate agents granted special access to a passenger whose need wasn’t that apparent, and perhaps even in violation of their own airline’s policy.

Elaine Regienus-Gravbelle, who was recovering from a double mastectomy and two other minor surgeries, was on her way to way home to Redondo Beach, Calif. She asked a ticket agent if she could get on the plane first.
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