JetBlue Takes Forever To Give Me Near-Useless Travel Voucher

Several months ago, Matthew booked a flight to take his family and in-laws from Rochester to Disney World. Then he discovered JetBlue was canceling the flight he had planned. The airline offered him a voucher but made him drive 75 miles to another airport to get a direct flight. It took too much back-and-forth to actually claim that voucher, and Matthew feels mistreated.

He writes:

A few months back, our local news station broke the story that JetBlue was discontinuing the direct flight service, but would include a voucher for a future flight. When we contacted JetBlue, they informed us that they had not intended to officially announce this for 3 more weeks. We took no chances due to our party size and re-booked to the “closest” airport offering a direct flight… Buffalo, NY.

So, our efforts to avoid having to travel to another city to fly direct went up in smoke and we would now have to be traveling 75 miles with 2 cars (gas, tools, mileage) to Buffalo and then pay a week’s worth of parking for 2 cars to catch a flight first thing in the morning. At the time, my sister-in-law spoke with a rep from JetBlue (I could provide his contact info, if that means anything) who verbally promised her a voucher per person (we also have this information via email) due to the inconvenience of the cancellation.

As time progressed, no sign of the compensation appeared. My sister-in-law was forced to make several phone calls after waiting the appropriate amount of time following her submission using the official JetBlue complaint form online (she did not receive a response to the online submission). The phone calls always had my sister-in-law having to recount the entire story each time she spoke to someone, including the contact information of each of the JetBlue representatives she had previously communicated with. Responses varied from “No one is getting any compensation from JetBlue’s decision to pull the direct service from Rochester to Orlando” and “Just because so-and-so offered you verbal compensation doesn’t mean we have to honor it.” My sister-in-law fought the good fight and did so with a lot of patience and professionalism in her phone calls. No cursing, no threats, no grandiose expectations of compensation, no comments on how JetBlue had lost us as customers… she was simply asking for compensation for the inconvenience of taking 2 vehicles 75 miles on a toll road and having to pay for week-long airport parking for both. She asked for this only because the “voucher for a future flight” was previously promised.

Remember, if the direct flight from JetBlue had not been in existence, we would have just chosen a different airline. We only went with JetBlue because they offered the direct option from our home city at convenient flight times.

On 12/7, JetBlue extended a $50 credit for each person in our party due to my sister-in-law’s efforts. Of course, JetBlue made a point to my sister-in-law that “no one else was getting this sort of deal.” To quote the email, “This credit, which expires 365 days from the date it is issued, is available for use on future travel with JetBlue and is non-transferable.” So, now we have a $50 credit to use in the next 365 days for an airline that serves no convenience to us.

I write you folks at the Consumerist just to see what the general consensus is about how this situation was handled. Is JetBlue (or any other airline) obligated to compensate customers who have been booked on flight services that the airline chooses to cancel and more importantly, commits to providing something and then retracts? Should have we expected more? What else could we have done realistically?

If you’ve been offered a travel voucher, how long did it take you to get it?