JetBlue problems at JFK Airport draw ire from passengers

QUEENS, NY (PIX11) — JetBlue issued an apology Monday morning amid reports of massive delays, flight changes, and hours-long wait times on the tarmac at John F. Kennedy International Airport following this weekend’s snowstorm.

Complaints against the airline began to pile up on Twitter Sunday night but continued into Monday morning. Passengers reported long delays that turned into cancellations, rebooked flights that were scheduled to take off at different airports, being forced to stay in the airport overnight, and waiting on the tarmac for hours and not being allowed to deplane.

Ronnie Jacobs, 61, was headed home to Bonita Springs, Florida on Sunday after a weekend of wedding dress shopping with her daughter when her travel plans began to unravel. She told PIX11 News her 2:30 pm flight appeared to be on time right up until boarding, then the delays started rolling in.

Jacobs said they eventually boarded the plane, only to sit on the tarmac for about two hours before they were told they had to get off. She said first they were told they were waiting on a pilot, then later it was because they did not have anyone to put the baggage on the airplane. Jacobs waited in the airport for nearly 12 hours before the flight was finally canceled around midnight.

“Someone came over and said the flight was canceled. They (JetBlue) never told us. We turned around and there were no gate attendants,” Jacobs said. “It was sheer ridiculousness.”

However, that was not the end of her order. Jacobs said they were directed to a customer service line where she had another long wait to find out her flight had been rerouted to depart from Newark Airport in New Jersey.

“I’m not going to Newark at one in the morning,” she told PIX11 News, adding that she was then told the only other option was to cancel without the offer of an immediate refund and book a flight on another airline.

Jacobs said she was appalled by the lack of customer service. When she asked about reimbursement for traveling to Newark and hotel expenses, she was told that was not JetBlue’s responsibility.

“That was the worst part. They were so inept at customer service,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs ended up canceling her flight with JetBlue and booking with another airline. She said her new flight out of JFK Airport Monday morning went smoothly without any issues. She also said she expects a refund from JetBlue.

“There was no I’m sorry. Never did they apologize… They didn’t offer us anything,” Jacobs said. “From start to finish it was horrible.”

A spokesperson for JetBlue told PIX11 News that Saturday’s massive snowstorm, which affected much of the Northeast, was to blame. The National Weather Service confirmed more than a foot of snow fell at JFK Airport.

“We have made good progress in ramping up operations in Boston, LaGuardia and Newark. At JFK, we started operations on Saturday as planned but faced a number of conditions that have slowed the operation down. We have combined some flights today to ease those constraints and are working to rebook customers,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “It normally takes a few days to fully recover when a storm of this size significantly impacts our two largest markets of New York and Boston, and our first priority continues to be restarting safely. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and we are working to get them on their way as quickly as possible.”

The nor’easter that slammed the Northeast on Saturday dropped more than 2 feet of snow in some parts of eastern Long Island. Massachusetts also bore the brunt of the storm, with some towns reporting more than 30 inches of snow.

However, Jacobs pointed out she was able to rebook with another airline and continue to her destination without any trouble. And she was just one of many customers who expressed similar outrage on Twitter.

Video posted by Annie Stoll on Sunday showed a crowded baggage reclaim hall at the airport. She said it looked like “an ocean of luggage.”

Stoll documented her attempt to fly from JFK to Buffalo on her Twitter account. After what she said was a five-hour delay she was eventually allowed to board a plane. After sitting on the tarmac for an hour the passengers were removed and the flight was eventually canceled, she tweeted.

As of Monday morning, 64 flights had been canceled at JFK Airport, according to FlightAware.com. Some 341 were canceled the day before.

This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press and Storyfuls Laerke Christensen.

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