JetBlue's weather-induced service breakdown last week created a lot of angry customers, stranded passengers, and bad press. But it looks like something good might come out of it, something that air passengers and air travel consumer advocates have long been calling for: a passenger bill of rights. And if JetBlue manages to make a functional promise that creates ramifications for the greatest hits of air travel woes, it could spark a change that might lead to more airlines following suit with their own passenger bills of rights. Here's hoping.
The full text should be posted online this afternoon. In the meantime, here's a quick rundown. JetBlue promises to:
- Notify customers of delays prior to scheduled departures, and of cancellations and diversions and the reasons for each.
- "Take the necessary action" to deplane customers if the plane is ground-delayed for five hours (or more, I assume).
- Compensate passengers for delays that occur when there's not a gate for deplaning after landing. The compensation is in the form of JetBlue vouchers, and ranges from $25 for a 30 to 60-minute delay to the full cost of round-trip fare for a seven-hour delay.
There are also refunds and vouchers for flights that meet certain criteria and are cancelled within 12 hours of departure. The compensation rules are retroactively in effect for flights since February 14.