Spinning JetBlue's Woes

ruthanne terreroYou have to hand it to JetBlue. They took their disastrous week of canceled, delayed and abandoned flights and spun it 360 degrees by suddenly announcing last week that they had established a "Passengers' Bill of Rights." As such, they got to be the first airline to righteously state that they feel that consumers actually have certain ethical privileges when they board an airplane. 

Before I go on, let's get one thing straight. Being forced to sit in a long tube of metal for 12 hours without proper food and bathroom facilities with several hundred strangers is a betrayal of human rights, not of "passenger" rights.

With that in mind, you won't be surprised to learn that I was threatening to scream last week if I heard yet another network news stations gush about this amazing Bill of Rights that JetBlue was issuing. It got the same amount of play last Tuesday as the court coverage of who has the rights to Anna Nicole Smith's remains, and fell just short of the many mentions of Britney Spears' shaved head. The PR spin was amazing. The media couldn't get over the bountiful awards that JetBlue was offering to passengers who would be locked up in their planes in the future. Imagine, you get $100 for a three- to four-hour ground delay upon departure, or if you got stuck for more than four hours on a plane, you get a free trip! (But it can only be worth the same amount of the ticket that got you stuck on the plane in the first place.)

JetBlue is clearly missing the point. This money has little value to those who cannot rebook a trip because they've already missed their vacation. Time has become a commodity that cannot be replaced. So has the right to be treated properly as a human. I would much rather have heard more PR spin last week about how the airline was investing its money in its infrastructure, which was clearly not prepared to handle the crisis.


Letter to the Editor

I was so excited to see your wonderful report on New Orleans in the February 12 issue! Just last week, Carnival Cruise Line announced that they would not be sending us the Triumph for seven-day cruises out of New Orleans. The reason was because there just is not enough business requesting New Orleans.

The local travel agents in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas have been supporting the four- and five-day Carnival sailings and the seven-day NCL sailings, but Carnival felt that we just couldn't support another ship without help from the rest of the USA.

I feel that the national media is finishing what Hurricane Katrina started with the devastation shown daily on the news. Nobody will believe that the "tourist" area is alive and well and functioning; those merchants and people not only need your sympathy, they need your tourist dollars!

Please continue to encourage travel agents to send us some people. Some of the best times to visit New Orleans are for the French Quarter Festival in early April, and then for the famous Jazz Festival during the last week in April and the first week in May. Why not combine any of these things with a cruise out of New Orleans? Anything the travel media can do to help rebuild this business will be appreciated by all of us.

Jane S. Hebert, MCC, President Lafayette Area Association of Travel Agents Lafayette, LA