A Warning About JetBlue and Why I'll Likely Never Fly it Again

Last Saturday I flew from Provincetown to Boston to JFK. It was a routine flight. Cape Air arrived in Boston about 20 minutes late and my partner Dave and I walked 100 feet from our arrival gate to our JetBlue departure gate. The gates were so close that given the opportunity I could have walked my luggage to our next plane myself. Everyone on our flight had already boarded and the JetBlue flight actually left early. It was clear that the flight had left so quickly that our luggage wouldn't make it on the plane.

JetblueUnfortunately, it's been FIVE days and my luggage is still missing. Every item I wear on a weekly basis was in that bag along with more than a few sentimental items. Dave's was lost too but his arrived 36 hours later.

When I called the JetBlue luggage office in the initial hours my bag had gone missing and asked them if they had logged the barcode tag on my luggage and were tracking it I was told that "JetBlue is too cheap to have a luggage tracking system" and that everything is done manually, so there's no way to track it.

Unfortunately, the manual system doesn't work either. Three calls a day for five days to the JetBlue JFK office and I don't believe I spoke to the same person twice. I also don't believe anybody gave a damn about me or my bag. The standard answer was, 'well, we'll just see if it comes in on the next plane!'

I'm also aware that it could be Cape Air's system (I've placed calls there too, with little luck) my bag could be lost in, but the airlines are partners and JetBlue is ultimately responsible for the follow-up.

Now my case has been transferred to the 'Central Baggage Service'. Oh joy. I get to start filling out a claim form, for which they want original receipts for the items that were in the bag!

I am confident my bag is out there. If there's anyone at JetBlue reading this that knows how to get some action on my lost bag, contact me! Until then, I'll be flying elsewhere and WARNING others to do so as well. Or at least have a good prayer ready when their bag gets lost.

Apologies for breaking from the regularly scheduled programming here, but I'm in a bad way.

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  1. ORIGINAL RECEIPTS? Who the hell keeps and files the receipts for every shirt, every pair of socks, every belt, t-shirt, or pair of boxerbriefs they pack in a suitcase? I'm sure that the lack of receipts will be the half-baked reason why JetBlue tries to get out of compensating you for losing your bag (which, I imagine, contained hundreds of dollars worth of clothes and other effects).

    This is one reason why people hate the airlines' business practices. I defy any of their employees to produce the receipts for the clothes that they are wearing this very moment.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Jul 10, 2008 5:07:35 PM

  2. Andy, that totally sucks, man. I hope the luggage turns up soon!

    (and I do hope JetBlue is reading! It's amazing how decent customer service is a luxury good these days.)

    Posted by: Alex | Jul 10, 2008 5:09:01 PM

  3. Sending some good vibes your way, buddy.

    Posted by: Jeremy/G-A-Y | Jul 10, 2008 5:12:09 PM

  4. Thanks for sharing this. You should send it over to my other favorite blog: Great pro-consumer/anti-corporate news that shames companies into doing the right thing.

    Posted by: Henry | Jul 10, 2008 5:16:59 PM

  5. You can go to Scottsboro, Alabama, and buy your stuff back after it goes up for sale there.

    Posted by: stevew | Jul 10, 2008 5:19:49 PM

  6. This is another thing that airlines inexplicably get away with (in addition to overbooking flights). I hope you get your luggage back soon, but there is no guarantee.

    Because of this, I've never checked a bag in my life. I will only take what I can fit in a carry on.

    There is a place somewhere down South (it was on Oprah once) that is like a humongous thrift store stocked with all of the personal belongings from people's "lost" luggage. It doesn't matter how expensive or personally valuable the items are, they will sell it rather than get it back to it's rightful owner.

    And on that happy note, I wish anyone who's gone through this much luck in gettinmg back what is theirs.

    Posted by: paul | Jul 10, 2008 5:21:51 PM

  7. Much as I loathe to admit it, I actually do have receipts for nearly everything I've purchased in about the last 15 years! Yes, I realize I'm an OCD moron.

    Sorry to hear about your luggage. That sucks.

    Posted by: crispy | Jul 10, 2008 5:23:19 PM

  8. I understand it's frustrating as hell. But it happens to everyone sooner or later. It amazes me that anything makes it anywhere when you consider the volume and complexity of it all. While it sucks that it happened to you, I have to say that was one whiney post. You sound like losing a suitcase full of most likely over-priced clothes is an actual problem -- like the ones that millions of unfortunate people face every day. Again, you're right to be upset, but to put up such an arrogant, waa-waa post seems to me like someone is forgetting they aren't the center of the universe.

    Posted by: Dan | Jul 10, 2008 5:26:01 PM

  9. common curtsies and good business practices sometimes slip when an entire industry is struggling. I travel jet blue every time and will be flying on them next month. loosing luggage is never fun, but getting cheap tickets has a draw back apparently. condemning an entire company because they cut corners on tracking so they can offer cheap tickets is pointless. you get what you pay for.

    Posted by: Steven | Jul 10, 2008 5:27:34 PM

  10. I've been there Andy. I'm so sorry, I know how frustrating it is. All I had was a call centre in India who kept telling me the same thing every morning," we have located your bag in MOntreal and arranging its delivery to you in Toronto". Seven days of that, and there are 16 flights a day between Montreal & Toronto. I have flown around the world to various middle-of-nowhere towns and always got my luggage, but in North America, it's a crapshoot.

    Posted by: secretagentman | Jul 10, 2008 5:29:51 PM

  11. Damn, sorry Andy! I know how frustrating that can be. I hope you're able to get it resolved without much more hassle. I'll send some positive thoughts in your direction.

    Posted by: John | Jul 10, 2008 5:31:55 PM

  12. I love JetBlue. I just jetted with them yesterday. Great service. It was probably Cape Air's fault.

    Posted by: Jetter | Jul 10, 2008 5:34:02 PM

  13. Wait... isnt the center of the universe?

    Seriously, no matter that there are people suffering in the world, when you pay for a service, there's nothing wrong with getting pissed when the service isnt rendered as it should've been... and warning your peers about who was responsible so they might not get screwed as well.

    Posted by: Jim | Jul 10, 2008 5:37:23 PM

  14. I sympathize with you, Andy. I've been dealing with customer service hell at another large company myself, DirecTV.

    I thought I'd switch away from my cable TV to DirecTV so I established a new DirecTV account 2 days ago and my credit card was charged $368.86. Before installation I wanted to make a simple (ha ha) equipment change and after speaking with several different DirecTV representatives who couldn’t figure out how to do this thing, they told me it would be simpler to just cancel the new account and re-order what I want in a new account.

    So I said sure. DirecTV cancelled the new account and told me I would receive a full refund of $368.86, but my credit card was only refunded $210.94. I called DirecTV to ask why but nobody I spoke with could find out what is going on or had the power to refund the missing $157.92, not even the billing department (which apparently is located in India).

    I spent at least 2 hours today being shuffled around from one DirecTV department to another. The first DirecTV representative transferred me to another department, which transferred me to billing, which transferred me to hardware/equipment, who said they would transfer me to a supervisor but instead I was sent back to the main menu, where I had to start all over again. At each point I was placed on long holds listening to the same recorded sales pitches over and over and over again, and then had to re-explain my problem to a new clueless, powerless person.

    Dealing with DirecTV customer service has been the most incredibly frustrating experience I have had in a long while. In my opinion their entire Customer Service system is broken. I think I have all of their recorded announcements memorized and will be hearing them in my sleep tonight.

    Maybe JetBlue and DirecTV are run by the same conglomerate.

    Posted by: Sam | Jul 10, 2008 5:39:53 PM

  15. Andy,

    I'm an avid reader and comment very infrequently; however I couldn't help but reach out to you here:

    I work for a company called Luggage Forward ( and we prevent exactly this sort of problem. We provide door-to-door luggage delivery service to every zip code in the U.S. and over 200 countries abroad. You can check out the website for pricing - I'll save you the rest of the elevator pitch - but with all the lost luggage and baggage fees to check even ONE bag on some airlines now, it's really becoming a viable option for most people who absolutely need their bags guaranteed, on time, and, most importantly, not lost!

    I can also sympathize with you regarding traveling this weekend. I had a horrible experience with AirTran this weekend going from D.C. back to Boston. They put our bags aboard another delayed flight that arrived behind us, so we got into Logan after being delayed 5 hours (it was midnight when we finally got to Logan) and our bags were on the plane behind us, due to land at 2:30 a.m. Of course, we did not want to wait until 2:30 a.m. to collect our bags from the flight.

    Luckily, AirTran had a system in place where you filed a claim and they delivered them to an address of your choosing the following day. They did as promised (my bags didn't get to my office until 6:30 p.m. though) but it was still very frustrating after a long day of travel and a mistake which could have been fixed very easily from the get-go.

    Luggage Forward has a relatively new Yellow Tag program you can sign up for. Once you do, we provide you with small Yellow Tags to attach to your luggage at all times while traveling. If your bag is lost, the person who finds it calls the number and we'll ship it home for you free of charge. A representative from AirTran actually called the office on Monday morning when they saw the bag and identified it as mine using the Yellow Tag I had attached. Since it was already being delivered to my office by AirTran we didn't have to take any action, but it's nice to know that the Yellow Tag worked and someone called once they found the bag!

    I'd be happy to offer you a friends and family discount for your next trip!

    Here's hoping you find the lost bag... remember, they lose one every 9 seconds!

    Posted by: Matt | Jul 10, 2008 5:40:15 PM

  16. Jetter,
    True enough. But it's out of the norm for what I usually find on here -- and he seems to take it so seriously. I mean it's clothes? I'm all for keeping businesses accountable, but the tone of the post was so "how could this horrible thing happen to me!" That's what I found annoying.

    Posted by: Dan | Jul 10, 2008 5:41:39 PM

  17. Matt,
    So for a charge you'll put a Yellow Tag with a phone number on it for me. As opposed to a yellow tag with my own phone number that I could put on it? And you work for a company that does luggage yet you checked yours on AirTran? Sorry-- am bored today and have too much time to post. I wish your business the best, but not sure the yellow tag sounds that helpful to me. But the actual luggage forwarding could be I guess. Kind of like FedEx, but for bags. Seems like it might be expensive.

    Posted by: Dan | Jul 10, 2008 5:46:48 PM

  18. Man! People sure do get mad because Andy posted something personal. Apparently it's so horrible Jim wished him DEAD.

    I have to say, I am shocked.

    Posted by: Jeni | Jul 10, 2008 5:55:26 PM

  19. I would recommend emailing the kids over at the blog Consumerist. A lot of companies watch the consumer advocacy blogs and will swiftly deal with complaints that are posted through there.

    Posted by: Casey | Jul 10, 2008 5:57:44 PM

  20. I'm sorry, but isn't this "Towleroad" written by Andy? This isn't the a newspaper you've gone out and paid for. This is a personal blog with news and opinion. I appreciate the personal perspective.

    I also hope that at some point Andy has said to Jet Blue, "Well I write a blog with 100,000 readers and I'm going to tell them all about this horrible experience." And then did just that.

    Posted by: jim | Jul 10, 2008 5:58:08 PM

  21. ew Jim- I think he's entitled to use his blog to vent about whatever he chooses. Go read queerty or some other staid blog and leave us alone.

    Posted by: astro | Jul 10, 2008 5:58:29 PM

  22. Two things:
    Thing one - Is Dan insane? Nobody holds his eyelids opens and forces him to read Towleroad. Get a grip Dan. This is a BLOG and Andy gets to say whatever he wants on it.

    Thing two - My understanding of the lost luggage regulations is that pretty much no matter how much the stuff in your bag was worth, the airlines will not reimburse you for more than $250 in most circumstances. Fortunately (maybe?) virtually all homeowners and/or renter's insurance policies cover for lost luggage. There is usually some sort of deductible, depending on the policy terms and such, but if you had lots of stuff that gays with jobs tend to have (eyeglass frames that make you look fab but cost an arm&leg, jeans with prices north of 200 bucks - my grooming products even add up pretty smartly when I schlepp back to Kiehls to restock...) then the net might be worth looking into. I learned the value of renter's insurance the hard way when a too-ridiculous-to-repeat lost luggage story came home to roost at my place.
    Hang in there and try to go Buddhist on it; attachment leads to suffering, objects are only as meaningful as we make them, blah blah blah. Still sucks.

    Posted by: Sean | Jul 10, 2008 5:59:36 PM

  23. Dan,

    If your bag ends up in some airport luggage closet in CA and you're in MA I would challenge you to find an inexpensive, fast, and convenient way to have your bag automatically delivered to your home without going through the claims process etc. with the airlines. The Yellow Tag program is more of a contingency plan that one can pay for to ensure peace of mind while traveling (especially if their bag is lost), not the main focus of our business. All I know is that it worked.

    And yes, I did check my luggage on AirTran. Admittedly, I am not a great candidate for the serivce in most of my personal travel cases, nor do I think I need to be to sell it. I have used it in the past and it works perfectly; however for this trip I had no connections on either leg and was unfamiliar with AirTran's unreliability (despite their claim that they are the "#1 Rated Airline").

    Posted by: Matt | Jul 10, 2008 6:00:56 PM

  24. My bad. I meant Jim not Dan. Eyeglasses thing.

    Posted by: Sean | Jul 10, 2008 6:02:07 PM

  25. I think Dan and Jim (especially Jim) would do well to remember that this is, after all, Andy's blog.

    Posted by: Jeff | Jul 10, 2008 6:04:09 PM

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