Stranded by Low Cost Carriers

Tracy Stewart, January 25, 2011
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q. My family and I recently from Aruba to Pittsburgh via New York on Jet Blue.  When we arrived at JFK, we learned that our flight to Pittsburgh had been cancelled, presumably due to weather conditions earlier in the day.

    After waiting in line for 2 1/2 hours to speak to a customer service representative, we were told that there were no more flights leaving for Pittsburgh that evening and the first flight upon which we could get confirmed seats would be on Friday.  Also, since JetBlue does not have arrangements in place with other carriers, they would not be able to get us seats on another airline.  Furthermore, since the cancellation was a result of an "act of god", Jet Blue would not put us up in a hotel for the night.
    As a result, we slept (or at least tried to sleep) at the airport Monday night and waited at the gate as "stand-bys" for the Tuesday morning flight to Pittsburgh.  Since the airport was still a mess Tuesday morning, we got lucky and were able to get on the 8:00AM flight.
    Given the status of the airline industry, I will not be surprised if we experience future cancellations.  Is there anything that we should/could have done differently? And why doesn't Jet Blue doesn't have "arrangements" with other airlines?  Is it because they are a low cost carrier and the other airlines don't want anything to do with them?

    A. In order to cut costs, many of the newer "budget" airlines made the decision not to abide by the old Rule 240, in which the older airlines agreed to fly each other's passengers in such situation.  JetBlue and Southwest both don't have agreements with other airlines.

    Should you find yourself stranded at the airport again anytime soon, try getting JetBlue customer service on the phone while you're waiting in line to speak to the gate agent. People have been known to snag the last alternate flight out by doing this. It's perfectly legitimate and something that not a lot of folks think to do.