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Friday, April 20, 2007

Trip from Hell

UPDATED: JetBlue has responded.

UPDATED AGAIN: Air Canada has responded, sort of.

UPDATED YET AGAIN: Air Canada has responded.

I am still arranging my thoughts before I start to write really snotty letters to the airlines, but trust me, I'm plenty angry.

Our trip home from the Philosopher King's wedding was supposed to take a day and a half. We were to leave Bangor on Monday morning, catch the JetBlue Portland-JFK flight at 3:10 that afternoon, stay at the Ramada in New York City on Monday night, and catch the Air Canada direct flight to Calgary at 7:40 the next morning. This would bring us back to the Canadian Arctic around 2:00 on Tuesday afternoon.

I thought this was the perfect plan.

On Monday morning, a storm was in full swing over New England. Two people had already died. The power was out at some of the gas stations along the interstate. We kept going.

I returned my rental car and discovered that the power was also out at the Portland airport. All flights were cancelled and the computers at the JetBlue counters weren't working. The agents told me to call JetBlue and rebook.

This turned out to be hilarious advice. The phone number took me to a recording that said there were a LOT of calls coming in (I can't imagine why) and I should go to the website. I went to the website. It took me to a page that said there were a LOT of people trying to log on (I can't imagine why) and I should call the phone number.

At this point, I had booked myself into a hotel room in Portland. I still thought that JetBlue had some sort of obligation to rebook me. They had no flights available that day and only one seat on the Portland-JFK flight for the next day. This might have worked for me, except that I have a legal obligation to look after my six-year-old son and couldn't leave him behind. I went to the JetBlue website and bought new tickets for Wednesday evening's flight to JFK.

I also thought that JetBlue had some sort of obligation to refund my money for the flight they cancelled. I found a WEATHER-RELATED CANCELLATIONS link on their front page. It took me to a page that explained that flights from Portland were cancelled and that I should enter my information to get a refund. I entered my information. It produced a web page that said I couldn't get a refund because my flight had already left. In case there is any confusion, my flight had been cancelled by JetBlue; it had not already left.

I rebooked my Ramada room to Wednesday night. I rebooked my Air Canada flight to Thursday morning. I extended my Portland hotel room for a second day. I booked another rental car for Tuesday and Wednesday.

At this point, JetBlue had cost me:

  • $85 for the hotel in Portland (I got the distressed-passenger rate)
  • $165 for the new flight to JFK
  • $170 for the rental car
  • Meals for two people for two days
  • Two days of work
The Wednesday flight actually did go to JFK. Our hotel stay was uneventful.

On Thursday, I got up at 3:30 Eastern time. We were to be on an Air Canada direct flight from JFK to Calgary. Yes, "were to be". Actually, make that "would not be". There was a problem with the on-board computer. We waited on the plane for three hours before Air Canada decided the plane would not be able to leave. All passengers were individually diverted. We were rebooked on a LaGuardia-O'Hare-Calgary flight. Yes, LaGuardia. As you might imagine, this is not the same airport as JFK. The agent told me to get a cab. I told her I did not have any money, so she gave me $25 in cash. She also said that my connection would be rebooked and someone would meet us in Calgary to book us into a hotel.

The cab did not cost $25. It cost $31.70. As you might imagine, this was more than the amount of cash I had. I paid the cabbie with my credit card, and there was a $45 minimum charge. Nice.

We caught our connection in O'Hare and arrived in Calgary. I can't believe it, but I was actually surprised when nobody met us to book us into a hotel. I was even more surprised when the Air Canada agent told me that there were no hotel rooms available anywhere in the city. Their solution was to book us onto a flight to Edmonton, find us a hotel room here, and rebook our connection to the Canadian Arctic. Our bags were drenched in sleet when they arrived. I thought that was a nice touch.

We did have a hotel room in Edmonton. We got there at 1:00 AM, which, considering the time changes, was almost exactly 24 hours after our day had begun.

Air Canada did have the decency to pay for our hotel room, so they cost me:
  • $20 for the cab ride to LaGuardia (over the $25 they gave me)
  • Meals for two people for one day
  • One day of work
Air Canada diverted us onto a Canadian North flight that left Friday morning at 10:00. I've decided that I love Canadian North. The flight left on time. They didn't let my bags get wet. They didn't try to reschedule me. They served quiche for breakfast.

Oddly enough, Canadian North did not cost me any extra money at all.

Including meals and the three missed days of work, I am out at least a thousand dollars. I expect JetBlue and Air Canada to make this right.


Amy H, said...

Good Luck with getting reimbursed. *snicker*

Cin said...

Pull out the big guns, honey. Threaten to call Marketplace.

Glad you're back!

The Blueberry Princess said...

I'm really sorry you had so much trouble getting back home. It was great meeting you and Michael, though! I had a lot of fun. I'm so glad that you were able to make our wedding. I'll be sure to not fly JetBlue or Air Canada when we come to visit you (whenever that may be)!