Dear JetBlue, Wednesday, February 17, 2016 was the last day I ever consider using your airline.
I was booked on Flight 682 traveling from Fort Myers to Washington, DC. The flight was scheduled for 6:40 AM. I arrived at the airport bright and early, made it through security and sat patiently waiting for us to take off. The first sign of trouble occurred when they told us at 6:10 AM that they were restarting the plane computer. Then, we were not notified about the change in time. 6:40 came and went. Finally, we received an email saying the flight time was now 7:30 AM. No big deal, just delayed 50 minutes. 7:30 came and went. Finally at about 7:45, we were notified to go to gate D6 (we were at Gate D4). Afterwards, they told us to go to Gate D8. They gave us the option to rebook or get a connecting flight which eventually would get me to DC. The flight was finally cancelled at 8:15 AM. No information was provided about why the flight was cancelled.
Today was a special day as I was being honored by the Veterans Health Administration. The award ceremony was scheduled from 12:30-2:30, so I booked the earlier flight so I could make it in with time to spare.
I understand the whole safety angle (that is a no-brainer). What was very frustrating was the fact that by the time the flight was eventually cancelled, any chance of trying to make it to DC for my award ceremony evaporated - An American Airlines flight at gate D10 could have gotten me to DC by 12:30. No dice as the doors closed at 8:10 AM. Another flight on Southwest could have worked ($256) and flown me to Baltimore but it was in a different terminal - 15 minutes to go walk out of D terminal and B terminal with security wouldn't work.
Jet Blue does not have a relationship with any other airlines in the case of flight cancellations. In this day and age, that's bad business. Secondly, if you are going to cancel a flight, please do it earlier rather than later. Waiting almost 90 minutes to cancel a flight is inconvenient to everyone,especially those on a time crunch. If there was a problem at 6:10 AM, perhaps a notification to consider alternatives would be beneficial for your passengers (especially those on a time crunch)
Trying to rebook my flight became a cluster because 90-plus people were trying to rebook their flight. The best option I could get was - "we can put you on a flight to Boston at 11:25 and connect you to DC by 2:30 , but you could try to fly stand-by for a 9:50 flight and get you to DC by 1:15 PM. With my luck today, I would be stranded in Boston and miss my flight back to Fort Myers.
Thankfully, I was able to get a refund of my fare. Unfortunately I missed out on my award ceremony and also had to eat $125.00 for my return flight on American Airlines. I also spent 4 hours at the airport for nothing, and also there $8.00 for parking. They offered me a $75.00 credit but after this whole experience, I do not want to fly with Jet Blue ever again.
We live in a world where information is available at the tips of our fingers (using computers and smartphones) - this accessibility may make people less enthusiastic about attending a professional conference. Why spend hundreds (and potentially thousands) of dollars on traveling, hotel, and registration fees when google.com can do all of the hard work for you, and spit back results in 0.02 seconds.
Personally, I've had the opportunity to go to 3 conferences in the past 4 months. In October of 2015, I travelled to Nashville, Tennessee for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (#FNCE). I also attended the Greater Seattle Dietetic Association's Fall Conference. Last month, I traveled to Baltimore, Maryland for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention/US Youth Soccer Workshop (#bmorenscaa) to speak on nutrition as well as learn as a soccer coach.
Afterwards, I began to think about the different ways that attending a professional event can impact your life in positive ways:
The truth of the matter is that there are so many local, state, national and international conferences to attend. Set a goal to attend at least one event a year (if possible) and work to see if your job-site will cover you. My payment back for attending FNCE is that I develop a presentation for my co-workers. It's a win-win - I learn new things, I develop a presentation (covering multiple topics), and I eventually present this information. This improves my skills as a speaker, and also keeps me up to date with the latest and greatest information.
Are there any other ways that attending a conference can have a positive impact? Leave a comment and let's hear it
Angel Planells MS, RDN CD is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist residing in Seattle, Washington. He specializes in lifecycle nutrition, sports nutrition, and weight management.