JetBlue Defines "Controllable Irregularity" In New "Bill of Rights"

ATTENTION: No JetBlue coupons for delays caused by labor unrest!

Mark Ashley, friend of the blog and travel expert extraordinaire, is not impressed with JetBlue’s new “bill of rights.” Here’s why:

If problems could be blamed — even in part — on anything uncontrollable, such as the weather, they wouldn’t owe you ANYTHING. That has now been codified:

“Controllable Irregularity as used in Section 36, means a delay, cancellation or diversion that is not caused by a Force Majeure Event. For the sake of clarity, if in a chain of multiple events, the original irregularity is due to a Force Majeure Event, the cause of the subsequent event(s) reasonably related to the original irregularity shall be deemed an Uncontrollable Irregularity.”

So by my reading of this, the passengers who were stuck on the taxiways at JFK for hours last month would have been eligible to receive… NOTHING.

Them’s fightin’ words, Mark. Here’s a link to JetBlue’s new Contract of Carriage (PDF) for all of you lawyers and wannabe lawyers to gnaw on for a while. —MEGHANN MARCO

Read the fine print [Upgrade Travel Better]


Edit Your Comment

  1. MarcAnthony says:

    acts of GOD?
    you mean like GOD sending heavy rain, and gusty winds? or GOD sending a plague of something for 40 days and 40 nites? Just curious….

  2. AcilletaM says:

    C’mon people, get it over with. Start talking about how Jet Blue is the bestest airline ever and even though this only appears to suck but really is better than all the other airlines. How this obviously just legalese required by their lawyers but the next time it happens they’ll still apologize because hey, the CEO apologized and that caused all the delayed people to get where they needed to be. Oh, wait…

  3. B says:

    As Dirk Gently would say, it’s an act of God, but which God?

  4. humphrmi says:

    Years ago, the airlines had the heebie-jeebies because several famous tarmac-stuck events made big news. Congress was poised to pass a bill of rights, and only backed down because the airlines promised to police themselves. Which they didn’t do. Things were great (relatively speaking) when passenger traffic was down post 9/11 – planes were empty, plenty of room to rebook people, and we didn’t have any winter seasons like this year.

    Fast forward to this year, and record pax traffic and some horrible weather have exposed that the airlines have done *nothing* to ensure that passengers don’t get stuck on tarmacs for eight hours.

    Now JetBlue has said “No really! We mean it! We’ll self-govern ourselves” and then *specifically* excluded the very situations that are causing passenger outrage to begin with.

    It’s nothing but bluster and BS.

    I say, give it to Congress.

  5. robbie says:

    Actually, the “ground delays” section of the JetBlue Customer Bill of Rights does not say anything about controllable irregularities. They promise to get you off the tarmac or give you vouchers.

  6. averdade says:

    @humphrmi – I agree, except congress won’t take it up unless enough of us start complaining to them. Give it to them with a phone call!

  7. Tallanvor says:

    “F. GROUND DELAYS/DEPARTURES; In the case of Ground Delays, as defined in Section 1, on Departure, regardless of cause, Customers will receive the following compensation…”

    I make no claims to being a lawyer, but they seem to be waiving the force majeure clause there.

    I still agree that the changes, for the most part, are more lip service than real improvement, but this may actually help to keep the ground delays down.

  8. Juancho says:

    Anyone surprised by this, raise your hands. Ok, yes, that means you, JetBlue fans…

    Actually, I would just appreciate if JetBlue flew out of Cleveland.

  9. Kornkob says:

    @Tallanvor: Exactly what I’m reading. Seems to me they are making good on the ground delays while not committing themselves to paying out for flight cancellations and the like that are out of their control.

    However, it seems pretty clear that a ground delay (which is what has been getting all the horrible press) is NOT exempted. They are promising to not keep you on that plane for excessive periods.

  10. geofffox says:

    I am a meteorologist. The weather event which caused all the grief for jetBlue was quite well predicted by me and everyone else. It would be tough to say it wasn’t ‘reasonably foreseen.’ jetBlue made a bad call, whether with or without whatever meteo staff they use.

  11. Mark Ashley says:

    I actually f’ed up here and posted a correction at the bottom of my post. Mea culpa. The airline WILL give vouchers if your plane has backed away from the gate and is stuck on the ground for hours. However, if they DON’T back away from the gate, and you’re delayed, then the controllable/uncontrollable irregularity language kicks in, and there’s still lots of wiggle room there.

    I’m still not overwhelmed, but I’m a little less underwhelmed. I’m just whelmed.

  12. itchy feet says:

    The force majeure statement is practically boilerplate. Check out your favorite airline’s force majeure statement (they’ve all been in place since God’s dog was a pup).

    Where JetBlue differs is where it departs from the standard, i.e., in outlining compensation for tarmac time and overbooking. That’s better than practically anyone else out there.

    Full disclosure: I have never flown JetBlue; they do not serve any airport in my state. I wish they did.

  13. Overturf says:

    I agree 100% with itchy feet. If you have an issue with a force majuere clause, you better rethink just about any legal document you’ve ever signed for any material item or service.

    This are included because PEOPLE ARE LITIGIOUS BONEHEADS. Kudos to JetBlue for stepping up as much as they are.

    Northwest could take lessons but it would be like teaching a pig to sing.