After a snowstorm that hit the Northeast and led airlines to cancel over 5,000 U.S. flights in two days, an unlucky group of JetBlue passengers is stuck in Barbados.
Some of them may not get back to New York for a week.
Passenger Lee Cochran told Business Insider that after her Friday afternoon flight to JFK was cancelled, JetBlue rebooked her on a January 9 flight. Her sister got a January 12 trip home.
Cochran asked about the possibility of flying to another city or being rebooked on another airline, but nothing worked out.
She gave credit to the JetBlue employees she worked with — “they did try to look for alternative options, but were limited in resources” — but ended up booking a Monday afternoon flight on another airline, for an “exorbitant” price.
“JetBlue won’t pay for anything,” Cochran said. She’s spared the cost of a hotel, since the rest of her family is staying on the island a bit longer.
Cochran added that she was in line behind a family rebooked on a January 10 flight, who were considering chartering a private plane home.
A JetBlue spokesperson explained that part of the problem is that the New York to Barbados route is served by only one Airbus A321 plane, which seats just 120 passengers. Because many customers had booked trips home after the New Year’s holiday, there isn’t a lot of extra capacity to absorb passengers whose flights were cancelled.
The airline may be able to run an extra flight if a crew and aircraft are available, but that’s not guaranteed. The storm left passengers stranded all over, and new FAA rules that limit the number of consecutive hours pilots can fly go into effect on Saturday.
If customers are stuck without a flight for three days, the airline will “prioritise” getting them home, the spokesperson said. While it’s “not likely” that some will be stuck in Barbados for as long as a week, it’s not impossible, either.
And like most airlines, JetBlue usually doesn’t pay for accommodations for passengers stranded by weather events.
Not everyone was so unlucky, however. Freddie Darzi told Business Insider he was supposed to fly to New York on Friday, but moved his trip up a day (he had booked a flexible ticket). “JetBlue,” he said, “were fantastic.”
After a few hours delay, he got to JFK around 8 p.m. — in the midst of “horrendous weather.”