Delays, Cancellations -- JetBlue Takes It in Stride

ByABC News
February 26, 2007, 4:25 PM

Feb. 26, 2007 — -- Two weeks after a systemwide meltdown following a Valentine's Day snowstorm, JetBlue once again finds itself in the eye of the storm -- literally -- and preparing to see its new policies put to the test.

Another winter storm raged eastward from the Midwest, causing the airline to cancel Saturday flights out of Chicago's O'Hare airport. Sunday, JetBlue announced the advance cancellation of 68 Monday flights out of major cities such as Washington, Boston and New York, site of numerous delays and complaints just 10 days ago.

"We got in touch with [customers] yesterday to let them know and to offer them a refund or a rebooking," said JetBlue spokeswoman Jenny Dervin. "More than 90 percent of our customers have chosen to rebook with us. We're gratified that our customers are sticking with us and we deeply appreciate it."

An additional 11 flights were canceled Monday, but JetBlue is confident that its decision to "proactively" cancel such a large number of flights was the right move.

"We took some innovative steps that I believe no other airline would have taken," said Dervin . "We're very happy with our plan and our execution of it."

JetBlue has reason to smile. The airline was slammed Feb. 14, canceling 279 of 503 flights, but today only 79 of its 579 flights had to be canceled. The improvement is welcome news for an airline desperately seeking to rebuild its damaged reputation.

"We've made a lot of changes internally to make sure we are better prepared and had a better plan not just to avoid inconveniencing customers from the weather but to recover from it quickly," said Dervin.

However, the changes have not solved all the airline's problems. As part of its new customer bill of rights, JetBlue is already paying back passengers on a flight bound for Raleigh-Durham, N.C., after they remained stuck on the tarmac at New York's JFK International Airport for more than three hours Sunday night. The flight eventually returned to the gate but not before bringing back memories of JetBlue planes that sat on the runway for more than 10 hours earlier this month. Under the new policy, the passengers will each receive $100 vouchers that can be used on future flights. Passengers on two other flights that never took off are also being compensated.