Lose your job? JetBlue will refund your plane ticket

With the economy in the toilet, JetBlue is looking to give some people the confidence to book flights even if they fear that their jobs might soon be on the cutting block.

The airline is introducing what it’s calling “The JetBlue Promise.” It states that if you lose your job, JetBlue will refund your fare and wave its normal $100 cancellation fee.

What’s the fine print? You can find all of it here. But the highlights are:

  • Refunds are good for flights purchased between Feb. 1 and June 1 2009
  • You must have involuntarily lost your job on or after Feb. 17, 2009
  • You must have paid for the trip yourself (rather than have had corporate pick up the tab)
  • You must send in your refund request at least 14 days before your flight
  • You must allow 30 days for your refund to process

There is paperwork that you’ll need to fill out, which is available at the above link as well. JetBlue reserves the right to refuse your refund request. If it does, it’ll still cancel your flight, and charge you $100 for the cancellation.

Hot or not? JetBlue decides for flight attendant

JetBlue may not comment on litigation, as it told USA Today, but clearly flight attendant attire is fair game. The airline is being sued by Karin Keegan. In what appears to be the friendly skies’ version of “put out or get out,” Keegan was not allowed to board a JetBlue flight because she wasn’t dressed provocatively enough. After ditching her threads for something she felt would be more consistent with JetBlue’s unusual “standards,” Keegan was told that she had missed her flight … and that she should have dressed the part of a sexy flight attendant from the start.

Keegan was flying JetBlue because of an agreement the airline has with her employer (Delta), under which Delta employees are ferried among locations. The altercation occurred in October 2007. The flight attendant complained to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, which gave her a “right to sue” letter late last year. Though not an employee of JetBlue, the law gives her the right “sue over workplace harassment even when they are not directly employed by the alleged harasser,” according to reporting by USA Today.

JetBlue’s recent spanking in Connecticut small claims court is nothing compared to this debacle, which is headed for federal court. If the airline is looking for some form of precedent to cite, it may want to consider France’s advances in attire and accommodation.

Maybe a scantily clad workforce is JetBlue’s way of making a nine-hour stint on the runway more bearable for passengers, but c’mon guys, there has to be a better way.

[Via USA Today]

[Picture via The Sun]

Keegan wasn’t provocative enough. Check out the stories from these women — who were all too provocative!

Lawsuit leaves airline feeling blue

Bill Baker was mad. This crotchety blogger was so pissed at JetBlue that he took the airline to small claims court. On January 16, 2009, victory was sweet, to the tune of $494. The money, he says, will be donated to charity.

Clearly, one lone nut blogger can make a difference.

JetBlue delayed Baker’s red-eye flight from Portland, OR to New York for five hours, before announcing the cancellation of the flight. The passengers were offered flights out three days later. Meals, accommodations and earlier flights were not offered. So, Baker took JetBlue to Connecticut small claims court. He asked for damages of $722.50 (per his blog, $687.50 per the court record). The airline apparently took the lawsuit seriously, actually sending a representative to the hearing. This was not enough, however, to sway the events to JetBlue’s favor.

The airline has developed something of a reputation for canceling flights and pushing passengers days into the future. When I went to the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, JetBlue canceled my flight and simply said that I wouldn’t be able to get into JFK for another two days. I pushed, asking about the many other airports in the New York area – small spots, like LaGuardia and Newark. Finally, I got them to put me on a flight for the next day. Like Baker, JetBlue offered nothing to make my trip easier.

I just sent a letter to JetBlue, which garnered a very weak response from the airline. Baker aimed high, and it worked.Litigation was not his first choice. In fact, he offered to let JetBlue donate the $722.50 for which he was suing to the ASPCA or the Humane Society of America. The airline did not respond to his offer. They did offer some vouchers as compensation, which he refused to use. But, the judge seemed to consider them in his final award, as they account for the difference between the damages requested and those rewarded.

I guess the moral of this story is that airlines should realize that even the smallest complaint can snowball. I found out about Bill Baker’s story on his blog, which was linked to his Twitter account, went to his blog and was entranced. That’s all it takes, sometimes, for one company’s bad news to gain a hell of a lot of attention. One person cruising a series of links at the right time can turn a small story into a big one.

For travelers, the message is that we need to continue to talk to each other. Start your own blogs. Use sites like Twitter. As we saw earlier this week, with the use of the Hudson River as a runway, citizen journalism has become a powerful force. Let everyone know about the best and worst you see on the road. We’re all in this together. Also, the airlines and hotels are starting to pay attention. One tough tweet will be noticed.

And, Baker leaves us with his battle cry, “Ask not how airlines can screw you; Ask how you can screw the airlines back!”

Read about Bill Baker’s lawsuit against JetBlue >>

View the official results of the Connecticut Small Claims Court >>

Learn about blogging, microblogging and travel >>

Read about a suit against Easyjet in Europe >>

Start your own airline lawsuit >>

[Thanks, Bill]

Arabic T-Shirt incident comes to a close with a $240,000 check

It has been 3 years since we reported about Raed Jarrar. This US citizen passed through security at JFK in 2006, got a secondary security search, and was then apprehended at the gate by an airport cop and a JetBlue employee.

See, Raed committed the “horrible” crime of wearing a T-Shirt with some Arabic words. The words on his shirt did not translate to “terrorist,” nor did they warn people that he was going to hijack their flight. The T-Shirt merely said “we will not be silenced,” in Arabic and English.

JetBlue eventually allowed Raed to board his flight, but not until he agreed to cover up his T-Shirt — and to sit in the back of the plane.

Passengers had reportedly complained to the gate staff that the T-Shirt made them feel uncomfortable, and they compared it to someone walking into a bank with a T-Shirt saying “I am a robber.”

Raed finally got some justice, when the TSA and JetBlue awarded him $240,000 in damages. Raed was assisted in his case by the ACLU.

In a day and age where people get paranoid for all the wrong reasons, I’m hoping this incident reminds everyone that not everyone who looks like a Muslim is a terrorist, and not everything in Arabic is warning of impending doom.

You can read more about the case, including a video clip with more details of the incident on the ACLU web site.

JetBlue crew has woman arrested over video of fighting passengers

A Las Vegas woman was hauled off a JetBlue flight in handcuffs last week for shooting video of two other passengers having a loud argument.

Marilyn Parver of Las Vegas says that after settling the altercation, started by a male passenger arguing with the mother of an unruly kid, JetBlue crew members combed the cabin asking for witnesses. When Parver told crew members that she had filmed the fracas, they brought her back to the galley to view the video. They then asked Parver to delete the footage.

She refused.

As she recounts what followed to a Las Vegas area newspaper, the crew accused her of intending to put the film on YouTube. They said she had illegally operated an electronic device during the flight (though the plane was at cruising altitude).

Crew members then said a directive had come from the captain ordering her to delete the film.

Parver, 56, asked to speak to the captain. The crew refused. They said if she didn’t delete the video, federal agents would be waiting for her when the plane landed in Vegas.

They were. Declining to give in, Parver was taken into custody and led off the plane. Somewhere between the plane and the arrivals counter, Parver says, the charges against her had ballooned into taking video footage of the cockpit (because those doors are always open), the galley and other parts of the plane.

The Feds, the TSA and a JetBlue representative looked at the video and decided it was harmless. Still, the JetBlue rep demanded that the video be deleted or Parver would be banned from future JetBlue flights and her name circulated among other airlines as a undesirable passenger.

It all ended pretty badly for Parver. The authorities were about to let her go when she made the mistake of demanding people’s names. A Vegas police officer told her to leave or be arrested. She said, “Arrest me.”

Parver went to jail — though it looks like she wasn’t arrested — before her husband arrived and sprung her.

JetBlue Airlines says it is looking into the incident. Parver has sent angry letters to the airline, the TSA and a host of other agencies.