Business

JetBlue Cancels More Flights Into Monday

Posted February 18, 2007 1:19 p.m. EST
Updated February 19, 2007 8:25 a.m. EST

— JetBlue called off almost a quarter of its flights Monday but hoped that would be the last round of cancellations as it struggles to recover from the snowstorm that saw some travelers sitting on grounded planes for hours.

Among the flights canceled were those in and out of Raleigh-Durham International Airport. The news sent passengers scrambling to deal with the disruption to their plans.

The airline had scheduled 600 flights for President's Day, more than the 550 to 575 flights it has on a normal Monday, but 139 of them were canceled.

The latest cancellations were needed to make sure all flight crews had gotten the legally mandated amount of rest before returning to service, JetBlue Airways Corp. spokesman Sebastian White said Sunday. "Canceling one more day's operations will really help reset our airline."

Beyond the cancellation at RDU, all flights to and from the following cities have been canceled through Monday:

  • Austin, TX
  • Bermuda
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Columbus, OH
  • Houston, TX
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Nashville, TN
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Portland, ME
  • Raleigh/Durham, NC
  • Richmond, VA
Flights to other JetBlue destinations may be impacted as well. All customers are advised to check their flight status online on JetBlue's Web site. Passengers on canceled flights also obtain a refund or JetBlue credit through the Web site or by calling 1-800-JETBLUE.

JetBlue's problems began Wednesday when its operations at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport were overwhelmed by the snow and ice storm. With dozens of grounded jets and not enough gates to unload passengers, some flights were stranded on the tarmac for up to 10 hours.

The airline said it tried to get its system back to normal by selectively canceling flights Thursday and Friday, but long delays continued because of constraints.

The cancellations followed hundreds of other canceled and delayed flights since Wednesday, when the snow and ice storm that had plowed across the Midwest struck the Northeast, grounding the company's airliners at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Maria Arbelo and two companions had been ticketed for a JetBlue flight to Houston on Saturday morning to get on a cruise. That flight was canceled, as were all flights to Houston on Sunday. The airline put the three women up in a hotel for the night, and had them on a Sunday evening flight to Cancun. From there, they would have to find a driver to take them on a four-hour trip to meet their ship.

"Oh my God, horrendous," Arbelo, a teacher from New Haven, Connecticut, said of her experience. "It's been a terrible ordeal, I tell you. We've been from line to line."

Arbelo said JetBlue staffers had been nice but seemed confused about what to tell passengers.

"I laugh about it because there's nothing we can do," she said.

White said JetBlue has been using several methods in efforts to reduce the backlog of passengers stalled by the storm, including charter flights, adding flights in certain regions, rebooking passengers who had some travel flexibility to later dates, and booking seats on other airlines.

He said the airline attempted to warn passengers of the latest cancelations by telephone and e-mail.

The disruptions also meant JetBlue faced mountains of luggage checked by would-be travelers. Some passengers complained that after their flights were canceled no one could find their bags.

White said the airline had teams out in the New York City area on Sunday delivering luggage to customers.