TL;DR: Persistence pays off. Pursue every avenue you can think of, until you’re clearly out of options. Of course, calculate whether the pursuit is worth the effort. And book every flight with a card that has a trip delay benefit…
On 1/6, my husband and I took JetBlue to Las Vegas for the world’s most attended tradeshow, the Consumer Electronics Show. I won’t go into too much detail (maybe do a trip report later), but if you’ve never heard of it or haven’t been and you like gadgets, cars, drones, virtual reality, home appliances, cameras, and basically any other consumer electronic, you should go. It never fails to be one of the most memorable trips of the year, every year, and is the only trip that my husband will not protest going on. (Plus, if you like free stuff, it’s also good for that :P)
Here’s a timeline of what went down:
9:52 AM: We take Uber to SFO before our flight which was to board around 11:50 AM. Wanted to get there early to enjoy breakfast at the Centurion Lounge, of course!
11:27 AM: Receive email that our Jetblue flight is delayed about 1.5 hours. Am very sad.
11:36 AM: Husband says, “Did you notice that this email says Flight departing out of Oakland?” Me: “Uh, no…but our boarding pass clearly says SFO. Should be fine. Probably just a typo.” Him: “Okay, maybe you should check?” Me: “Okay I’ll tweet at them.”
11:45 AM: Jetblue responds:
@esthery Flight #888 will now be departing from Oakland due to weather. Sorry for the inconvenience, Esther.
— JetBlue Airways (@JetBlue) January 6, 2016
I ask if they plan to provide a shuttle for passengers who are already waiting at the boarding gate, and they responded they would check.
11:59 AM: JetBlue is still checking whether there is a shuttle or not. A few minutes prior, we decided not to risk it and leave the Centurion Lounge and the terminal, and call another Uber. Got in the Uber and started driving to OAK.
12:03 PM: JetBlue says there is a shuttle departing for OAK in 10 minutes. Too late, already in Uber and on the highway.
So there you have it, not only did our flight get delayed, but the departure airport was changed and we didn’t know until approximately the time of the original boarding time. I had never heard of such a thing happening, but when I was telling my friends, one said he had a flight out of SJC once and the departure airport was changed to OAK at the last minute. So I guess it’s not all that uncommon.
We were originally supposed to get to Vegas and have a few hours to see the first day of the exhibit halls before it closed for the day. We arrived at 3:33 PM and got to the exhibit hall around 5 PM after a very kind fellow passenger (good things happen out of negative things!) offered to give us a ride in his rental car to our hotel, and got to see an hour of the exhibit halls, which probably was only 1% of the show (that’s how big this trade show is).
The show kept me on my feet and incredibly busy, and I nearly forgot about the departure airport change until after I returned from Vegas.
When I got back, I realized I had booked the flights with Citi Dividend World Mastercard instead of my Citi Prestige, which I was pretty bummed to discover. Looking into the benefits of the Dividend, I found they did have a Trip Cancellation policy. I tried submitting a Trip Cancellation claim, and received this in response:
We are sorry to hear about the delay you experienced on your recent trip. According to the information you have provided, you purchased this trip with the Citi Dividend card. This card does not carry the Trip Delay benefit, only the Trip cancellation/interruption benefit. The situation you have experienced is a trip delay. The Trip Cancellation benefit provides coverage for non-refundable trip costs when you have cancelled your trip prior to departing for a covered reason(such as illness, injury or unfortunate death of a family member). The Trip Interruption benefit provides coverage when you have to return home early from your trip due to a covered reason(injury, illness, death of a family member). We sincerely apologize that there is not more we could do to assist you at this time.
That was a bummer. I decided to submit the claim with JetBlue instead. This was their response, which was received in a very timely manner (within 3 days):
Thank you for contacting JetBlue regarding your recent flight. In situations where a flight is delayed, canceled, or changed, we typically don’t offer reimbursement of consequential expenses;
however we’re happy to review your reservation for possible reimbursement.
In order to do this we require a copy of your transportation receipt. You may reply to this email and attach your documentation as a PDF.
Please include the following information on your submission:
– Contact ID number [redacted]
– Confirmation number [redacted]
– Name, phone number, and a mailing address of where we can send approved reimbursement
We look forward to hearing back from you.
That seemed hopeful. I forwarded my Uber receipt of $65.01, and crossed my fingers.
Today (just 1 day after forwarding the receipt), I received this response:
Thank you for your reply to JetBlue and for providing all of the necessary information. As we explained yesterday, in situations where a flight is delayed or canceled, we typically don’t offer
reimbursement of consequential expenses; however after reviewing your reservation we have determined that in order to help offset some of the unexpected costs you incurred, we’re happy to offer reimbursement for your ground transportation to the OAK airport.
Your reimbursement will arrive in the form of a prepaid Visa card and is being sent to the following address. Please allow up to 30 days for delivery.
Check Amount: $65.01
Confirmation Number: [redacted]
Thank you for allowing JetBlue to assist you. We do hope you will fly with us again.
Thank you JetBlue! I realize that I received a reimbursement as a gesture of goodwill and that they don’t typically offer reimbursements, but I am grateful and appreciate that they did the “right” thing. This was my second flight ever on JetBlue, and after this experience, I’m sure it won’t be my last, because I appreciate what they did for me in the unfortunate event of a trip delay and inconvenience of a departure airport change.
When I think about JetBlue compared with Southwest, I find they have better snacks (blue chips and teddy grahams!), free wi-fi, pre-assigned seating (I hate forgetting to check in for my Southwest flight and ending up with B50), boards from rear of the plane to the front (similar to Alaska Airlines; this is genius, why don’t all airlines board passengers this way?!), and has equally good legroom and customer service.
Share your stories of goodwill gestures that reinstated your faith in a company below!