After its recent debacle, JetBlue issued a Passenger's Bill of Rights, which states, among other initiatives, that the airline will deplane customers if an aircraft is delayed on the ground for five hours, and will offer monetary compensation to customers whose flights land but are unable to taxi into a gate within 30 minutes. JetBlue's operations initiatives are said to total $30 million.
ASTA promptly jumped in, saying that passengers should not be forced to remain on aircraft without adequate facilities such as food, water and access to toilets, as JetBlue customers were; and called on airlines to make the necessary investments to effectively deal with such crisis situations.
ASTA said it has approached the Air Transport Association (ATA) to discuss solutions to these issues, and that ATA indicated an interest in starting a dialogue.
The Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA) also said it would throw its hat in the ring. "We are planning to...get involved in some way," said Barry Richcreek, chairman of ARTA. "You just can't have people waiting on an airplane for 10 hours."
JetBlue customers whose flights were cancelled will be granted full refunds, receive JetBlue credit or they may rebook travel through May 22. Visit www.jetblue.com/promise.
—Jennifer Merritt, Joe Pike and Mark Rogers