Were you one of the chosen ones?
Were you one of the brave tarmac pioneers who endured 10 hours trapped in a JetGlue–oops, JetBlue–airplane at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport last Wednesday?
Were you the stranded guy who called the New York Daily News on your cell phone to report your airplane’s toilets were overflowing and the “blue chips” were making you sick?
If so, the once and future discount jet setters of America thank you. Unless ticket prices go up, in which case you are all a bunch of whiners.
After a week of disruptions, cancellations and downright horrible headlines, New York-based discount airline JetBlue announced it’s new Consumer Bill of Rights on NBC’s Today Show…er…today.
JetBlue CEO and Founder David Neeleman told Matt Lauer that under the protections now afforded his airline’s passengers, departure and ground delays will earn affected passengers travel vouchers ranging from $25 for an hour delay to round trip tickets for delays of four hours or more.
Under this new passengers-get-paid paradigm, the real question is not whether JetBlue customers will stick with the carrier, but whether the discount segment of the industry will survive? After all, Neeleman estimated the cost of last week’s snafu alone cost JetBlue $20 million and $30 million.
JetBlue and its competitors, Southwest, Frontier, etc. are surely on solid footing and should survive, but if popular consensus forces them all to institute similar programs the discounts may not. If you buy a ticket on a discount airline doesn’t the price imply that you might receive a little less than stellar customer service? Where else would the “discount” originate? Hopefully not in the pilot-quality or airplane-maintenance ledger lines, anyway.
Is the assurance that you will receive $25 bucks for an hour delay or a round trip ticket for a 4 hour-plus delay mean more to you than paying an extra–oh, I don’t know–$15 to $50 a ticket?
If ticket prices aren’t affected by the new emphasis on passenger protections, than I’m all for this bill of rights. But after being forced to walk around in my socks and having a gloved guard rifle through my undies on my way to the gate…well my rights aren’t exactly my priority in air travel. Just get me there and get me there safe. And for crying out loud, can I please have the whole can of soda?