JetBlue Pilot Refuses To Return To Gate, Fights To Keep Flight From Cancellation

“Hello, I’ve been seeing all these negative stories about airlines on your site, and I just thought I would share 1 positive one. Well, I have been flying jetblue since 2001, even before they had the TV’s installed in their planes For years, I have taken jetblue only, but recently they have been pretty hit or miss, really disappointing.

On June 21st, I was on flight 6 from JFK to Buffalo departing at 5:20 and arriving in Buffalo at 7:12. We pushed back from the gate at exactly 5:20, and started our journey to the runway, as number 20 or so in line. At this point, the weather just got worse and worse, and eventually all flights north were suspended, with us being 2nd in line for take off, bummer.”

From this point, I would say the captain was in contact with us almost every 15 minutes, as we were shuffled around the taxi ways of JFK. He was giving us constant weather updates, trying to find alternate routes to buffalo with the help of ATC, and refused to go back to the gate because our flight would then be canceled. After about 2 hours, they were kind enough to start the food and drink service, even though they were pretty much not allowed to.

All the while, the TV’s were functioning, which was great. Finally, after 3 and a half hours on the taxi ways, we take off and get into Buffalo at about 10:30. 2 days later, without any asking, Jetblue emails me with a $100 refund in accordance with the Customer Bill of Rights

The captain of the flight was absolutely excellent, CONSTANT communication with us every step of the way, from the medical emergency in the plane behind us, to telling us that the engines burn 2 gallons of fuel per minute idling on the runways. Totally restored my faith and love for jetblue.

Even I was knocking them recently. I just felt that this was a great experience (other than the weather)..and hey, $100 back on a $170 flight isn’t half bad.

Now that was jolly good of the captain, and very good of JetBlue for emailing the refund without even being asked. That’s what we like to see, especially considering that the delays would’ve been due to the weather and most airlines only give refunds for non Force Majeur events.

(Photo: Star Trek)


Edit Your Comment

  1. bnet41 says:

    jetBlue really does rock. Yea they had some issues back during that snowstorm, but so did every other carrier. The stuff jetBlue gets in the news for is stuff the other airlines deal with everyday as standard procedure.

    I fly them whenever I can, and always have a better experience then when I have to take the big carriers.

  2. banned says:

    If companies could only figure out that uncontrollable situations can become profitable, then we’d all be better off. If they gave me $100 for this, I would likely be a customer for life. Stories like this are far more effective advertising in my opinion, than some memorable but stupid childish tv jingle, like Cenline Dion’s “You and I” for Air Canada. Which reminds me, you should check out the French version, it rocks lol. Anyway, wtg jetblue.

  3. me thinks the captain had a booty call in Buffalo

  4. tvh2k says:

    I had not realized that the burn rate for engines was as much as 2 gallons / minute. Figure 2 engines in the A320 * 2 gallons/minute * ~ $4/gal for Jet A = $16 per minute!

    Ouch — no wonder the airlines are struggling. If only they’d fix the traffic out of JFK and other large airports. We’d save the environment and pay lower airfares.

  5. Trai_Dep says:

    Perfect, shining example of how business should be done. A company screws up (hey, it happens). They admit it, tell us they’re working on it. Shake up the corporate culture a bit. Make some big, some small changes. Throw it out there and see what sticks.

    Even if the captain DID end up saying, “Sorry, guys, I tried…”, I’d be happy with Jet Blue. So hat’s off.

    Not that there won’t be future mistakes, but they’re trying, which counts a lot.

    Sigh. If only the TSA followed the same example. Guess we’ll have to wait until the Republicans are out of office (being government-haters and all, what’d you expect?). Bet there will be a BIG shakeup, whichever Dem candidate wins.

  6. Amy Alkon says:

    It’s my opinion that people will take a “shit happens” approach much more easily if they’re treated with respect and if it seems the person representing the company actually cares about them and is making an effort to make things work.

    It’s like my neighbors with young kids. Sometimes their kids make noise and bother me while I’m writing or wake me up, but what makes all the difference is that I’ll hear the mother saying to the kids, “Kids, Amy might be sleeping,” or “Shhh, you don’t want to bother Amy.”

    Yes, just caring and making an effort really does count for a lot.

  7. LionelEHutz says:

    Fixing traffic at airports might mean building more airports. The NIMBY’s won’t like that. Aside from that, I think there’s a shortage of air traffic controllers too.

  8. j-o-h-n says:

    @LionelEHutz: The problem is not a lack of airports. There are *plenty* of under utilized airports out there. The problem is the hub-n-spoke model where an airline wants roughly all of its planes to take of and land at the same *one* airport at the same time.

  9. Skyoodpov says:

    “At this point, the weather just got worse and worse, and eventually all flights north were suspended, with us being 2nd in line for take off, bummer.”

    Am I the only one who thinks this article could have also been:

    “Batshiat crazy pilot flies plane through unsafe conditions after all other flights cancelled do so severe weather.”

    I don’t fly very well, but have to often. I would have flipped out on this flight. I could understand if the delays and cancellation were due to BS reasons (like poor takeoff schedule…I am looking at YOU JFK…)

  10. Skyoodpov says:

    …but not due to weather.

    (blech, poor proof reading…)

  11. rolla says:

    @Amy Alkon:

    i agree…at least i take that approach too

  12. LTS! says:


    Booty call in buffalo… ever been there? I doubt he’d be upset missing it.

    On another note.. good job by JetBlue.

  13. JustAGuy2 says:


    Really, what it will take is the expansion of existing airports. Add some additional runways, in parallel to the existing ones, and you sharply increase capacity.

  14. goodkitty says:

    I was less impressed with the pilot’s candor than I was hearing about the drink service and free TV. It sounds like the passengers on that flight had a better experience on the ground than most times I’ve had in the air. Maybe that’s the solution to all these air travel problems… cut the wings off the planes and just have them drive to their destination on the freeway like a big, noisy bus. It’d probably be faster too.

  15. Jay Levitt says:

    I think what’s amazing is that, with exactly the same facts, this could have been a “JetBlue kept me hostage on the runway for 3.5 hours in a storm and refused to return to the gate, even though no flights were taking off.”

    But because the pilot engaged the passengers well, the passengers felt that their interests aligned with the pilot.

    Moral: It’s the communication, stupid.

  16. @Skyoodpov: I’m with you. The last thing I want my pilot doing is trying to find some way to fly in bad weather while all the other flights are being cancelled.

    I’d be ready to pull the emergency exit door just to get off that damn thing.

  17. LandruBek says:

    @Skyoodpov: Same thought crossed my mind. But also I’m keeping in mind that “bad weather” is not really a binary state. IANAP, but if you are just at the edge of an officially demarcated zone of bad weather, if the actual storm is dying down, moving away from you and moving out of your flight path, if the conditions around you are acceptable for flight — then it might make sense to push to take off anyway.

    Then again, I sure hope such judgement calls aren’t basely motivated by Buffalo booty calls, or saving the company’s money. Safety first!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Bottom line, two pilots are working together making “go/no go decisions”. Most likely both have families they want to get back home to and would not jeopardize their or your lives to get to Buffalo. Regulations are written and followed or jobs are lost. These guys were most likely getting weather updates every 15 minutes or so and took off when it was safe to do so. Ask the original poster if the ride was “dangerous/excessively turbulent”; I’m sure the answer will be no.