JetBlue’s Awful New Schedule Change Policy

Filed Under: JetBlue

Airlines have greatly reduced their schedules in recent weeks, and one of the challenges for consumers has centered around getting refunds for cancelled flights. One would think that if your flight is cancelled you’d be entitled to a cash refund, but that’s not the reality at many airlines.

Well, JetBlue has just introduced what’s arguably the worst schedule change policy of any US airline.

JetBlue’s new schedule change policy

As noted by @scottsflights, JetBlue has just introduced a new schedule change policy, which for now is in effect through April 15, 2020, for flights through May 31, 2020.

With this new policy, JetBlue won’t provide you with a refund to your original form of payment unless they can’t rebook you another flight within 24hr1min.

In other words, if your flight is cancelled in advance in a market where they operate one daily flight, and if they rebook you on the same flight the following day, then you’re not entitled to a cash refund. Instead you’d just be entitled to a credit towards a future ticket, should you not want to fly.

As a point of comparison, prior to this change, JetBlue would provide you with a cash refund if your schedule was changed by at least two hours.

Why would JetBlue have this new policy?

JetBlue’s motives here are pretty clear, since we’ve seen this from a countless number of airlines. This is an attempt to conserve cash.

Airlines are struggling to stay alive and are having serious liquidity issues, and they’d much rather force you to keep a future voucher with the airline, rather than refund you in cash.

I think it’s especially clear that this is the motive, based on the fact that this is a temporary measure they’ve put in place for the next couple of weeks, as they’re presumably in a real cash crunch.

JetBlue is violating DOT regulations

It’s worth noting that JetBlue is violating US Department of Transportation regulations with this policy, which state the following:

“If your flight is cancelled and you choose to cancel your trip as a result, you are entitled to a refund for the unused transportation – even for non-refundable tickets. You are also entitled to a refund for any bag fee that you paid, and any extras you may have purchased, such as a seat assignment.”

In light of that, how can they get away with this? Well, the reality is that the DOT doesn’t really “actively” monitor airlines for their policies, so:

  • If enough people file DOT complaints, the airline may face a fine (or something) in the future for this
  • The DOT moves slowly, so even if they do try to enforce rules, don’t expect anything to happen soon
  • We could maybe see the DOT issue some exceptions, given the challenging circumstances right now

JetBlue is following United’s lead here

JetBlue is truly following United’s lead in terms of customer-unfriendly refund policies for schedule changes.

United’s policy changed several times, just days apart:

  • The original policy was that in the event that your flight schedule was changed by at least two hours, you could get a cash refund
  • Then United’s policy was that you could only get a refund if your flight schedule was changed by at least 25 hours; this even applied retroactively to previously booked tickets
  • Then United updated their policy to offer refunds on a “case-by-case” basis
  • Then United updated their policy so that you could get a refund if you had a schedule change of at least six hours
  • Then United updated their policy so that if you had a schedule change of at least six hours then you’d receive a flight voucher, and then if you didn’t use it after 12 months, you’d get a cash refund

Bottom line

With JetBlue’s temporary (for now?) new policy, you can’t get a cash refund unless they can’t rebook you on another flight within 24 hours. The airline is clearly trying to conserve cash and avoid refunds as much as possible, instead focusing on giving people vouchers when flights are cancelled.

Comments
  1. JetBlue has been going down for quite some time now. They have completely lost the identity that once made them unique and now seem to be pretty much copying their competitors.

  2. Lucky , did you see Virgin Australia have stopped transfers to KrisFlyer? Doesn’t bode well…

  3. Thanks for quote on DoT regulation. I am now lockdowned in homecountry in Europa and trying to get money back from Air Canada and Frontier. Both are resistant to make refund and happily state voucher as the only option. I wish like-EC261 Regulation would work in North America.

  4. I dumped B6 after they brought in a Police Presence for their 3rd delay announcement at PBI. The Police agent actually removed her weapon as she spoke. I have since been told that such action would be against many regulations in NYC. If B6 wants to act that way, not with me involved.

  5. Spirit is not offering refunds at all. It clearly says on the website that they will only refund if there is a travel ban. 6 months to use your credit!

  6. Sun Country is not offering refunds for cancelled flights, regardless of other flight options. Honestly it is not the airlines’ fault for Covid-19, so they really don’t have a better option right now. That being said, the DOT should enforce a requirement for airlines to offer a refund at the end of the ticket credit validity period, in case people are not able to use the ticket credit. However, airlines should not be held to the normal requirement to offer immediate refunds, given the unprecedented force majeure nature of the situation that prevents them from being able to follow normal regulatory requirements.

  7. @Sam. You’re in the minority here. Force majeur applies to the customer too. I lost my job last week because of this craziness, and I don’t have the means to give United airlines an interest-free loan for the next 10 months on the $560 ticket that the airline did not provide what I paid them to do. They are required by law to refund.

  8. Refund for next flight available. People like to play smart and request the money or want to be rebooked for another date which turns to be very convenient of a holiday weekend or when tickets are more expensive. The airlines book your ticket the next available flight because that’s the closest to your original time. People choose flights according to price not need. If is an emergency you can tell by persons demeanor of needing to get to their destination asap. Most airlines won’t refund your tickets. JetBlue gives you options and try to work with you as long as you can be a little flexible. Ancillary fees get refunded to original for of pay and tickets get a travel bank for a year.

  9. Key here is if they canceled your flight. If its a flight change then no compensation is deserved I support JetBlue and any other airlines in this. Sites like this stirring up anger are disgusting. How about let’s figure out how to travel and be safe well doing it. If people are not traveling our entire economy will be destroyed. If you want refunds buy a refundable ticket. And no I dont work for an airline.

  10. Doesn’t the contract of carriage require a refund at passenger request if a flight is canceled, regardless of what happens in terms of rebooking?

  11. That’s what to expect whit s low fare airline eventually they will go out of business or merge whit one off the 3 big cariers

  12. For what it’s worth, I called JetBlue yesterday after this news broke to cancel an upcoming flight. My original flight had been cancelled and I was rebooked on a different flight 12 hours later. They offered JetBlue credit for a schedule change, I clarified I wanted a refund per DoT regulations since my flight number had changed, and they acquiesced without much pushback.

    So you can still get a full refund if your original flight number was actually cancelled–just be prepared to call in, ask specifically for a refund, and quote DoT as they won’t offer it proactively.

  13. @Josef Petrak

    Funny, at this moment, how many follow the DOT law and EC 261 law?
    Air France only gives option for vouchers on my May flight. I have another Lufthansa in late August so I don’t know yet.
    The thing surprising me is that China Eastern and All Nippon refunded me 100% CASH in 3 weeks because China Aviation Authority issued an executive order for every airline to and from China to issue 100% cash refund since Wuhan lockdown. Authoritarian go go go lolllll

  14. Amazing that some haven’t realized yet that panic-mongering and recreating the Great Depression might have some negative consequences.

  15. A week ago I had a future flight cancelled myself, and was rebooked on a different flight number 5 hours earlier. I used Twitter DM to request my refund and simultaneously declined future credit per their own Contract of Carriage and DOT regulation. JetBlue replied deceitfully, stating my flight wasn’t cancelled and could only get credit. My replies clearly but politely stated that my flight was indeed cancelled and I expected my refund, per the contract and law. They replied with the same lie, but advised would process ‘as a courtesy’ – I now have my refund, but I really don’t appreciate the dishonesty.

  16. Why such dramatic title? Isnt this type of policy similar to others or is it first of its kind?

  17. @ Norita — Currently they have the worst policy of any major US airline, so yes, I’d say it’s pretty terrible.

  18. Eric- You may want to re read the article. The new rule means that if you buy a ticket now for travel on Monday at 4pm. and tomorrow they call you and tell you that THEY (repeat THEY NOT YOU) cancelled that 4pm flight , they will not give a refund if they can put you on a flight on Tuesday before 402pm. THAT IS CRIMINAL! Do you really agree with that or did you just read it incorrectly?

    They are luring you into buying a ticket so that they can keep your money. In civilized countries, management would be put in jail for this.

  19. Just do a chargeback for fraud. I’m done messing around with these guys.

    ~ The Honorable Reginald

  20. So far, I have a ticket on Alaska. They are not going to arrange a refund also, and only give out a credit to be used within 12 months. Anything I can do to get a refund?

  21. I bought a ticket on Jet Blue for a function in NYC. My flight was cancelled and they rebooked me on a later flight 3.5 hours later, which would have gotten me too late for a meeting, if that meeting was actually going to take place. Since I have no need to go to NY and JB does not fly to any place I normally travel, a voucher will do me no good. My options are give them the money outright, get a voucher for 18 months in which I will not use, give the value of the voucher to someone else, travel to NYC in the middle of a pandemic or travel to some destination in the next 18 months in which I have no need to go. There are government travel rules for a reason. Airlines simply do not follow rules, the law or common decency. Let’s not forget the US taxpayers are giving these airlines Billions of dollars and yet they still feel the need to grab a few hundred dollars from each passenger that they know may never use the voucher. In the future I will not fly these airlines that are not doing right by their passengers. Airlines like Delta that are offering refunds are the airlines I will fly in the future, even if it may cost a bit more.

  22. This would might make sense if it were true, but if the schedule change is 2 hours or more you’re able to get a refund with JetBlue. You should really make sure you know what you’re talking about before making such a long post like this ..

  23. Pres joan should take her own credit from her jet blue micky mouse bank and fly to the land of oz and ask the wizard for a heart and then fly back to reality and with her taxpayer bailout give all her loyal customers our money back to be used now in this time of national crisis for food and bills and not for some future flight that we mite never use

  24. The airlines should do the right thing just as airbnb and vrbo has in refunding all monies regardless of when one cancelled. Give all our money back now and if it causes them to go out if business then so be it Pretty sure other people will take over those airlines and treat their new customers with some humanity.also seems disgusting that are still even flying 90% empty airlines everyday and bringing who knows what sick people across America to Spread the virus because the To cancel us and then have to pay all those 90% who cancelled But if yu do fly now to florida from Boston only 17$ So get em why the last

  25. I am kicking myself for being a good citizen and cancelling my flight a few weeks ago when it became clear that we were not going to be making the flight across the country to New York City at the end of May. At that time of cancellation Jet Blue only offered a credit for future flight.

    In the ensuing days, the flight we were on was cancelled with no other flights within 24 hours and 1 minute of the original flight. According to the Jet Blue policy, my flight would now be eligible for a full refund to my credit card EXCEPT for the fact that I had cancelled my flight. I called Jet Blue and spoke with an agent who said that they have been able in the past to undo the cancellation and issue a refund but that it is not possible at this time. I spoke to the supervisor as well who reiterated this same point that in the past they have been able to override a cancellation and issue a refund.

    I wish that Jet Blue would recognize that people who are trying to do the right thing by cancelling a flight they know they will not take would honor the changing policies they are making as an airline and allow for an override and refund. A cash refund would really help everyone right now. I hope that someone in the airlines sees this and that collectively people begin to push and take action to influence the airlines to do the upright thing and refund for flights that have been cancelled.

  26. Thanks Ben! My flights with Jet Blue in May from LA to NY had been cancelled and reassigned with significant time changes. I called and said I would like to cancel, I was told I qualified for a credit. I read the young Lady the quote from the DOT and she said “of course, I was just about to mention all your options, no problem” and she issued me a refund.

  27. Envy you, Paul. I made my request for refund to Alaska Airlines but they denied. Just filed a complaint with the DOT. Hope this can help.

  28. During the virus their shouldn’t be any difference between of who’s doing the cancelling , jet blue or the customer as refunds are concerned. No question at all but pres Joanah just doesn’t get it.

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