October 30, 2011

Dreaming Of A White Halloween? Information Regarding This Weekend’s Storm

Some people dream of a white Christmas; apparently Mother Nature was dreaming of a white Halloween this weekend. Winter reared its ugly head earlier than usual yesterday, causing a major crease in air travel.

On top of the obvious operational hiccups to flying airplanes in bad weather - wind, rain, hail, snow and ice – an additional unfortunate mix of circumstances caused a messy day operationally and has made the recovery for us and other airlines operating along the East Coast more challenging.

During the storm, multiple instrument failures occurred at JFK and Newark, affecting all carriers. This equipment is needed for flights to land when visibility is low; while it was out of service, both airports stopped accepting arrivals and eventually, a number of flights had to divert elsewhere to get more fuel.

Six of our flights diverted to Hartford. We worked with the airport to secure services, but our flights were six of the 23 reported diversions into Hartford, including international flights (picture big jets carrying hundreds of people). Getting all the flights deplaned at the same time in a small airport is not unlike trying to get an elephant into a smart car; it’s not an easy fit. As if things weren’t challenging enough, the airport experienced intermittent power outages, which made refueling and jetbridge deplaning difficult (not to mention the roads there were bad, which put a wrench in getting buses to the airport to alternatively get everyone where they needed to go). Temporary loss of de-icing capability added yet another challenge to being able to get planes out in Hartford.

Diversions in general, especially weather-related, are something that we plan for regularly. If heavy winds or a blizard are coming in, we look at our major cities and secondary cities in advance, sending the area’s airports a list 24-48 hours out asking what their capabilities are for handling diversions. We look at things like: does the airport have TSA on hand, buses, staffing, customs agents, etc. so we have it ahead of time. Flights are planned with alternates in mind and fueled accordingly.

Most diversions during weather are what we call “fuel and go” events. They happen specifically so we can get enough gas to navigate around the weather that’s built up in a certain area. Sometimes, the diversion is simply to wait out the storm.  In the case of Hartford, unfortunately, a power outage and failure of back up power resulted in the fuel supply being disrupted and the fueling of all airline diversions was halted.  The capability to refuel aircraft was restored later, after which we planned our four extra sections for today (3 to JFK, 1 to EWR) and approximately 500 of the roughly 700 customers who were diverted there are booked on them today.

A special thank you goes out to John, our General Manager Hartford and his team for working through the night and into today to recover the operation there. Another thank you goes out to JFK who sent additional crewmembers and leadership to Hartford to assist in preparing our aircraft and processing customers for today’s extra flights. And a big thank you goes out to our customers for their patience during this weekend’s challenges.

We apologize to those impacted by this confluence of events, as it remains our responsibly to not simply provide safe and secure travel, but a comfortable experience as well.

We’re offering customers traveling to/from the New York area today fee waivers to change or cancel their flights. Check jetblue.com for the full details and be sure to check the status of your flight before heading to the airport.

Posted by in BlueCities, Customers | Permalink | 45 Comments | Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter

45 Comments on “Dreaming Of A White Halloween? Information Regarding This Weekend’s Storm”

  • Posted by Sofi Fiona Tuvat on October 30, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Geez. Jetblue management is completely inept! All these excuses, yet it happens every storm!

    Why did this NOT happen to all the other carriers???

  • Posted by J. Kaplan-Levitt on October 30, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Thank you very much for such an explicit explanation. I never was aware of how much pre-planning and co-operation is required when the weather rears its ugly head.

  • Posted by Robin on October 30, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Come on Jet Blue. I have been flying you (most of the time, happily I might add) since you came to NY. But 7 hours without a toilet??? NOT acceptable. I thought there were laws that passengers were to be let off planes after 3 hours on the tarmac. Just pray I am never caught in such a situation.

  • Posted by E on October 30, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    So, um, why did you use BDL as an alternate when it was also forecast to be in the path of the exact same storm that was impacting JFK?

  • Posted by Jessica Roberts on October 30, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    A reporter for our local news was stranded on a plane with crying babies and children for 7.5 hours yesterday. There is absolutely no excuse for this. I’m very disappointed as this was the last airline for which I had any respect. I would’ve called 911 to report my being held hostage, then an attorney. And I hate attorneys and law suits. You should read the article.

  • Posted by Phil on October 31, 2011 at 1:39 am

    Wait a sec! The plan, and prepare for these kind of events, but they allow a plane full of people to wait for & hours? That is NOT preparedness…

  • Posted by J. John on October 31, 2011 at 8:40 am

    It’s not rocket science. Pull a catering truck up to airplane unload passengers a few at a time. Sure it would be slow but a lot quicker than seven hours.

  • Posted by Cecil S. on October 31, 2011 at 11:02 am

    You call this a “hiccup”? I call this an outstanding reason to never, ever fly on your airline. And then you thank the very people who were responsible for the hell you put those poor folks through…unforgivable. I’m willing to bet all I own that if the daughter of JetBlue’s CEO were on that plane SHE would have been deplaned.

  • Posted by Dave N. on October 31, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Poor planning

  • Posted by Giorgio Ciotti on October 31, 2011 at 11:13 am

    they did it to me as well — somebody has to become violent to stop them playing these games — being reasonable just prolongs the agony — be violent and someone will get on board to arrest you — and voilà off the plane — bad people — full of bad excuses — they can’t even make up good credible excuses!!!!!!

  • Posted by Jonas on October 31, 2011 at 11:28 am

    You would have thought Jet Blue would have learned its lesson after the debacle a few years ago at a New York City airport. Apparently not.

  • Posted by John on October 31, 2011 at 11:29 am

    This is such baloney. You couldn’t bring the planes up close to the airport and drive out a stairway truck? And why would you divert to BDL which was at the center of the storm? This is your pre-planning? And free waivers? Seriously? Have you been taking lessons in customer management from Norhtwest?

  • Posted by James on October 31, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I just dropped my TrueBlue membership as a result of this fiasco. Sure, bad weather, blah blah blah – the fact still remains that JetBlue was the only operator with this problem, and that the eventual solution could have been deployed at any point during the 8 hours after the plane landed. Better to remove any temptation I may have had to consider JetBlue in the future…

  • Posted by C C on October 31, 2011 at 11:44 am

    your explanation is bull crap. I agree with J.John. Use some common sense. You remind of the politicians out there with no brains. If you are truly concerned with the passengers safety and comfort, this would not have happened. Oh, and offering to cancel fee changes – seriously??

  • Posted by k v on October 31, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    k v
    Yes this incident is BULL CRAP. I will never fly Jet Blue because of this incident and will let others know how horrible of an airline they are. BAN JET BLUE.

  • Posted by Mike on October 31, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Maybe you could’ve had someone there at least emptying the wastes. C’mon. Can you expect passengers to hold it for that long? You all of the passengers a free round trip.

  • Posted by Mike on October 31, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    (I left out a keyword) Maybe you could’ve had someone there at least emptying the waste. C’mon! Can you expect passengers to hold it for that long? You OWE all of the passengers a free round trip ticket.

  • Posted by Franck M on October 31, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    You can blame the instrument, JFK airport, the pilots or whoever you want but ultimately the decision of stranding 130 people for 7 h in a plane is coming from you. Opening the door and calling 2 cops/airport personal to help escorting the people out is what someone with a bit of common sense would have done. Unfortunately, apparently in America we seem to have lost this will for solving problems and make the life of people easier, because of this inept regulations that all of us are using to hide behind instead of taking real decisions.

  • Posted by Don on October 31, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    As a road warrior for 20 years, I’ve been stuck many times in many situations, perhaps 5 hours the longest on a tarmack. As a society we love to pontificate about the failings of others. No one is perfect, no one is without failures and mistakes. To me what is important is how one, a company or an individual, responds to the failing: being contrite and learning from the failure. In this regard I think JetBlue has been exemplary. From their response to the Valentines Day problem at JFK to yesterday, they have done and will continue to do both. They may stumble again because they’re not perfect but who is? And in my experience they’re still the best airline in many many ways.

  • Posted by lbjack on October 31, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    JetBlue is complimenting its management? For this? How obscene!

    So, what is going through the minds of station management and dispatch as their customers are sitting on the tarmac after an hour? After two hours? Three hours? Four hours? Five, six, seven?

    What kind of people willfully subject other people to this kind of torment? I’m asking you, JetBlue!

    They can point fingers where they will — waiting for TSA, customs, equipment, blah, blah, blah — but the fact remains that PASSENGERS CAN BE DEPLANED and driven or walked to a concourse door. An airline claiming that this can’t be done in any circumstance is lying.

    The truth is that the airline is UNWILLING to deplane passengers. Folks, it’s about the money. It’s expensive to deplane and pay for food and lodging and rescheduling. While passengers are undergoing their ordeal, believe me, JetBlue is NOT thinking about them. JetBlue is thinking about the money.

    Suggestion: Have a policy that a flight parked away from a gate for more than 2 hours is considered aborted and passengers deplaned, and a procedure for deplaning and transferring passengers from the tarmac to a terminal/concourse. Man up, JetBlue, take the hit. Be a mensch.

  • Posted by Common Sense Mom on October 31, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    …power outages….overcrowded tarmac….bus delays….can’t get the jetbridge to the plane.

    Um, you know, human beings can WALK right? They don’t have to be transported like slugs on busses and jet bridges. In extreme situations like this why can’t passengers who are able bodied and willing be allowed to WALK to the terminal? Yea, yea, I know…what if someone twists and ankle and sues (GASP!! the horror!!) I am sure that after a few hours on that cramped, smelly plane most passengers would have gladly walked a mile in the snow to get to the terminal.

    Find a way to let passengers walk to the terminal in situations like this. People can walk Jet Blue. Humans can walk.

  • Posted by Jim_J on October 31, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Some of the comments here totally blame JetBlue for everything that happened on the ground at BDL. I think that you have to imagine a being on the ground in a swirling snowstorm with winds as high as 60 mph. What I do question is why the flight diverted to BDL instead of another airport where JetBlue has facilities. We do not know how much fuel was left in the plane’s tanks after circling EWR waiting to land. If the fuel was low, BDL could have been the only option. If enough fuel was available, why did the flight not divert to Syracuse, Rochester or Buffalo? Those cities had little or no impact from the storm.
    JetBlue is still my favorite airline and I’m not going to let this incident stop me from flying them in the future.

  • Posted by Christopher Budd on October 31, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I feel for you as far as circumstances, but as someone in crisis communications/crisis management, I have to be honest and say you’re not doing great with this so far, and you may be on track to repeat the problems you had a few years ago.

    I wrote about it here: http://bit.ly/twbSaL.

  • Posted by Donna Fosberry on October 31, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    I’m really not surprised after the way Jet Blue handled the Hurricane Irene stranding people for days when all other airlines were operating. Jetblue was completely unhelpful and downright rude. We flew Delta to get home and will never fly Jet Blue again. Certainly an airline needs to have a plan to deal with inclement weather? oh wait that might eat into your profits..never mind.

  • Posted by Morgan on October 31, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Seriously, Jet Blue lost credibility on this issue a long time ago. An ounce of prevention…

  • Posted by lbjack on October 31, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    The northeast is ALWAYS crowded and subject to weather/infrastructure surprises. Sounds like, for the airlines, history begins with every incident like this. I think it’s simply that cost/benefit analysis has shown that it’s more costly to do the right thing than to let the passengers rot and take the temporary p.r. hit.

  • Posted by TM on October 31, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Good thing there’s a bunch of aviation experts on here to pass judgment based on their extensive experience in airline crisis management. And for free!

  • Posted by Monica Blake on October 31, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Good grief, surely someone could have done something to make things more comfortable. Couldn’t the toilets have been attended to … couldn’t a food truck have delivered something to eat. My motto always is “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Jet Blue obviously was fine with this situation; otherwise, they would have done something about it. Shame, shame, shame on them.

  • Posted by bluebell on October 31, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    really? there were employees that worked 29 hours straight trying to facilitate and get through the red tape that allows customers to get off an airplane..at BDL Jetblue has 1 gate yet due to EWR and JFK not accepting planes 8 planes arrived in BDL. their 2 regular planes and 6 diversions. Employees worked hard to assist even though their own families back home had no power and no heat.. Everyones job has rules that govern them. Airlines cannot just open doors on a snowy tarmac and let people run wild to get into a terminal. Air stairs don’t work without fuel and most would assume that customers cannot jump 12 feet from the door to the ground. Have some empathy.

  • Posted by Passengers At Wits End As Plane Sits On Tarmac For Hours | Donald Schwartz on October 31, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    [...] bound for New Jersey but forced by the recent snowstorm on the East Coast to land in Connecticut. JetBlue was quick to give a statement on the company blog saying the event was not entirely its fault. JetBlue says the flight was one of 23 planes diverted [...]

  • Posted by BM on October 31, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Stop hiring friends from your former airline that have a terrible management style, and find people who know what they are doing. Why not send the planes out of the snowstorm instead of to a city that was getting just as much, if not more snow!

  • Posted by TP on October 31, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    This airline is a joke and their management needs to be held responsible. Aren’t there laws about the number of hours on the tarmac?

  • Posted by Blue it again on October 31, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    I hope that someone high up in Jetblue management loses their job over these constant failures every time there is some weather. Why reinvent the wheel, why run at absolute minimum staffing, why are your employees so disgruntled? The buck needs to stop somewhere. I say it stops at the top, with the CEO. JetBlue’s last CEO was fired for the exact same incompetence as this one is demonstrating. The employees and the public need to demand that someone takes responsibility and that change happens. This incident must only scratch the surface as to the poor operational control at Jetblue. How long till it causes an accident or a death? I commend the pilots for trying, to no avail, to get help from anyone because Jetblue was doing nothing! Shameful, disgraceful, and incompetent!

  • Posted by Lisa on November 1, 2011 at 12:00 am

    Yikes, doesn’t JetBlue realize they are making things WORSE with these completely uninformative BS excuses?

    “Getting all the flights deplaned at the same time in a small airport is not unlike trying to get an elephant into a smart car; it’s not an easy fit.”

    What BS. It does not 7+ hours to deplane 23 planes, even under highly unfavorable conditions. Even though the airport’s ineptitude and power outages were contributing factors, I hope Jet Blue gets hit with the whole damn $6 million fine. I like JetBlue and fly it regularly. But there is clearly a major failure of accountability here.

  • Posted by Lisa on November 1, 2011 at 12:07 am

    Honestly, whoever wrote this blog entry should be relieved of their duties. Dozens or even hundreds of people were made to suffer — largely to to YOUR poor planning — and your response is humor?! To make light of it?!

    Bad call.

  • Posted by EK on November 1, 2011 at 1:11 am

    This blog post just confirms everyone’s sense that JetBlue’s management is clueless and incompetent.

    How could you possibly respond to this incident in this way? Does no one at this company take any responsibility?

    As a (previously) frequent JetBlue customer, I find it terrifying. The Hartford incident was already very bad, but JetBlue’s response since then has been disastrous. I can imagine business schools teaching this as an example of how NOT to do crisis management or public relations.

  • Posted by Bob on November 1, 2011 at 2:12 am

    Here’s what the JetBlue COO tweeted that morning:

    JetBlueCOO Rob Maruster
    Despite calls for doom, we’re planning to operate a full schedule today. Expect delays this evening as rain turns to snow in NE.

    You guys ignored the changing forecast. You gambled and lost. Again.

  • Posted by you people are a joke on November 1, 2011 at 4:57 am

    HA HA HA!!!! This is very funny reading these posts. None of you have any facts as to what happened, yet you pass judgement on the JetBlue. Overly anxious to give your uneducated opinion without having any knowledge on the subject or in aviation as a whole. But I do understand that after years of ridicule and overeating, you need to take your anger out on somebody. This must be a great opportunity for you. And by the way, YES you do look fat!!!!

  • Posted by John on November 1, 2011 at 8:40 am

    When JetBlue first came to Boston, I thought about applying for a job with the company, as I had read so many great things about it. Thankfully, I didn’t. This has to be the worst case of ineptitude on record. I only hope the pilot who pleaded for help isn’t singled out by the company. If I were one of the passengers, I’d have pulled the emergency slide and gotten off after the first few hours. Sure, I’d have gotten arrested, but at least there would be a bathroom and some food at the jail.

  • Posted by Live Chat Lessons for Dealers from Jet Blue’s Crisis in Connecticut on November 1, 2011 at 9:08 am

    [...] Blue’s operations and customer service nightmare at Bradley International Airport near Hartford, Connecticut this past weekend will most likely [...]

  • Posted by hello we exist too on November 1, 2011 at 11:15 am

    I’m not sure why this is happening. I am one of the passengers from an American flight that was diverted to BDL and we were stranded as well and I’m only reading about Jetblue! There were a bunch of us sleeping in cots in the terminal being told there was nowhere for us to go with no hotel rooms. Why is this airline getting all the press! How about us?! It’s so frustrating.

  • Posted by Paul on November 1, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    I was recently issued an alternate airport that did not have fuel available for the times the alternate would be used. This is emblematic of Jetblue dispatch and leadership as a whole. Why would you dispatch an aircraft with an alternate in the path of the storm which only had 1 gate available. NEVER in my career have I worked for an airline so completely incapable of operating in a weather event. We are absolutely pathetic.

  • Posted by MikeS on November 1, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Jetblue – nice explanation, unfortunately, the problem was of your own making. You picked a diversion airport that was a) directly in the path of the storm and b) ill-equipped to handle diversions. Your own pilot said that he was getting no support from his company (in ATC communications). Good thing that my two young kids were not on board – I would have been the one getting taken off the plane by the police. 7 hours is unthinkable and your ops staff needs to review their irops playbook. Did you not learn anything from the last time this happened?

  • Posted by Lt on November 1, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Jet Blue. Never again. Here’s a clue. Open the doors deploy the slides. Get a catering truck. Tell pax they can walk. Let pax sign a waiver. Stop hoping people against their will. You guys are pathetic. And likely to be out of business if this ever happens again.

  • Posted by Crisis Control | Adventures in PR on December 6, 2011 at 3:50 am

    [...] be doing too much in terms of damage control, other than a lone blog post. On Sunday, it posted a blog to address the weekend’s issues, entitled “Dreaming of a White Halloween? Information [...]

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