FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – JetBlue Airlines took the unusual step of shutting down service to four major airports in the Northeast for hours on Monday and Tuesday due to a winter storm affecting the area.
JetBlue cancelled 300 flights nationwide that were heading into and out of JFK, LaGuardia, Newark and Logan Airports. Several of those flights were due to depart from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International and passengers were not pleased.
“I’m frustrated,” said Julia Davydov. “Everyone here’s frustrated.”
As hundreds of passengers waited for hours to rebook their flights, JetBlue employees handed out snacks and drinks.
Passengers say JetBlue seemed unable to handle the weather situation. Andy Scichilone and his wife were supposed to leave Florida last Thursday.
“I think they should have been better prepared for this,” Scichilone said. “They can’t even handle the phone calls that they’re getting.”
Several passengers said JetBlue was unresponsive online and on the phone.
“They put you on hold three times and said you had to wait, you had to wait and the third time they said, “I’m sorry, we’re hanging up now. Phone back later,'” said Karina Von Middendorf.
The airline said in a statement a combination of icy conditions in the Northeast, arctic weather and FAA rules on pilot work times is to blame for the shutdown.
The statement said, “This plan allows for 17 hours of rest for our equipment and crewmembers and time to service aircraft. As one of the largest carriers in the Northeast, weather in this area impacts our entire route network and operations.” The airline plans to resume operations at 10 am tomorrow and is hoping to fully operational by 3 pm.
Stranded passengers hoped the airline would reimburse them for any of their extra costs.
“They should accommodate the people if they need a place to stay,” said Ralph Mercogliano. “Refund them if they need it, put them on another airlines. Help them out a little bit.”
JetBlue said on its’ blog that it will consider reimbursement requests on a case-by-case basis. Jetblue is telling customers to submit a request for their extra costs while stranded and the airline will consider them.
Many wondered when they would ever get home and how JetBlue would overcome this public relations nightmare.
“I’ve heard a lot of these people saying they would never fly JetBlue again,” said Scichilone. “So it could really hurt the airline.”