If you’ve been trying to get into or out of Northeast airports including Boston Logan International Airport or any of the three New York City-area airports in the last few days on JetBlue, you’ve likely had a tough time of it. On the heels of heinous weather, JetBlue canceled almost all of its flights yesterday out of those airports, saying the airline needed to rest its crew members before sending them out.
JetBlue says the cancellations were in part due to the airline’s effort to comply with new Federal Aviation Administration rules on pilot duty time, and that the gnarly weather didn’t help. Starting earlier today and ramping up toward the afternoon, a spokeswoman said the airline will be “100% operational by 3 p.m. ET.,” reports CNN.
This will allow for 17 hours of rest for crews as well as time to service the aircraft, JetBlue explained, which is causing a bit of a backlog.
Some customers “aren’t seeing available seats for nearly a week,” and it’s not like the overwhelmed call centers can help much amid the current cancellations. JetBlue suggests travelers instead rebook or request refunds online.
“Delays or cancellations disrupt those handoffs placing crews or planes ‘out of position’ for their flights.”
“In the midst of us repairing those schedules disrupted by this week’s winter storms, we’re facing an additional challenge as new FAA rules went into effect for crew rest,” the spokeswoman explained in an email. “These rules further impact our ability to operate an already disrupted schedule, causing our pilots to ‘time out’ even sooner. As a result, additional cancellations are likely to occur as we work to reset the operation.”
But one pilots union is a bit skeptical of the excuse of the FAA’s new rules — those rule changes were announced back in December 2011, ostensibly giving the airline plenty of time to sort things out before they went into effect on Saturday.
“They had two years to anticipate this (work hour rule) and to adjust accordingly,” said the vice president of the Air Line Pilots Association. “So I think it’s overly simplistic to suggest that they could ascribe this disruption — which happens to coincide with this major, major winter snowstorm — and just hang it all on that rule-making change.”