For those of you who don’t read my other blog, I’ve been in Las Vegas for the past week for the Christmas holiday. I had a blast. At this very moment, I was supposed to be home in Burlington, but my flight home last night was canceled, and now I’m stuck in Vegas for a few more days. I know what you’re thinking: “Poor baby. Stuck in Vegas. What a hardship.” That might be true if I hadn’t been here a week already and done everything I wanted to do, and if I were only stuck here for one more day. But I was more than ready to go home yesterday, and now I’m stuck here until Saturday. Meaning I have to be here for New Year’s Eve. AUGH! THE CROWDS!!!
Here’s what happened: I was out having cocktails with Diana Edelman and Abby Tegnelia last night when I received the robocall from Jetblue about my flight cancellation. I immediately tried calling to rebook, but kept getting the message that basically said “We have an extremely high call volume, please try again later or go to our website.” Abby tried helping me rebook on the website via her Blackberry, but there was no obvious link for rebooking the canceled flight. I was able to book another night at Treasure Island at a casino rate (thank you, TI marketing!) so I re-checked in there and got on my computer in the room. Still, no obiovus link to rebook my canceled flight. In desperation, I tried booking a new flight. The first available flight it showed was MONDAY, six days after my canceled flight.
I texted my friend Chiro, who was also in Vegas with his wife Melinda during the holidays. Their flight had been canceled the previous night, so they were still in Vegas, but had rebooked on a flight out today (on Continental). They were driving up the Strip, and he offered to take me to the airport so I could talk to a live person to see if they could get me on a flight earlier than Monday. Thank God he suggested this, because there was no line at the Jetblue counter at 11pm and the agent there was able to get me on a flight Saturday. Still not great, but better than Monday.
I’m very disappointed with the way Jetblue has handled the aftermath of this storm. I think everyone would agree that Jetblue is not responsible for the weather. How it handles the aftermath of a storm–including rescheduling canceled flights and customer service–is another matter. The first place where it fell down on the job is with the inability for people to reach a live human being by phone to reschedule a flight. “We have an extremely high call volume, please call back later” is unacceptable. People should be allowed to join a queue on hold until they get through to a live human being. By forcing people to keep calling back, there’s no order and it’s a complete crapshoot as to whether someone will get through or not–EVER.
Step two: If your flight is canceled, there should be a link to click to easily rebook a flight at the website, but “easily” wasn’t an option either. In desperation, I booked an entirely new flight (for $600+ one way!). At the Jetblue website, they have issued a notice telling people NOT to go to the airport to rebook a flight. In reality, though, that was the only way I got any kind of customer service (and a flight earlier than Monday).
Meanwhile, I’m stuck in Las Vegas through New Year’s Eve, when hotel prices are outrageously high. The cheapest thing I could find (that I’d be willing to stay at) was Imperial Palace for $332 for 3 nights (a screaming deal by Vegas Strip standards, when you consider it includes New Year’s Eve). Is Jetblue going to reimburse me for the next 3 days of food and hotel expenses I incur here? I doubt it. I’m just glad I had this week off from work, so I don’t have to explain to an employer why I’m missing an additional few days. Imagine all the people who are missing work–or who are trying to book tickets for more than one person on a future flight.
You’d think an airline would have a better plan in place for how to deal with this sort of thing. My situation could have been worse, certainly. I could have been Jason Cochran, who was stuck at JFK for 32 hours, thanks to Virgin Atlantic.`