Jan. 08--JetBlue Airways said it will compensate thousands of passengers hit by flight cancellations and expects to rebook all those left stranded by severe winter weather by week's end.
"We own it ... and I think we have to make it right," chief operating officer Rob Maruster said yesterday.
After a 17-hour shutdown at Logan International Airport and three New York-area airports, the discount carrier said operations were almost fully restored yesterday afternoon, and it was adding flights to get passengers back in the air.
"We expect all customers will be rebooked for travel by the end of the week, but possibly sooner," spokesman Anders Lindstrom said via email.
More than 150,000 JetBlue customers were affected by flight cancellations since Jan. 2, according to Lindstrom. That included 49,000 Monday when JetBlue canceled 430 flights -- 45 percent of its total -- and 25,000-plus customers yesterday, when 226 flights were canceled.
JetBlue extended the period in which it's waiving change/cancel fees and fare differences for customers traveling from Jan. 2 through today. It also established a compensation plan for those hit by cancellations, offering TrueBlue points or "Customer Good Will" credit.
Servulo Pires of New Bedford said a JetBlue worker went to bat for him after his 7 a.m. flight to Jamaica from Boston was canceled yesterday.
"If it wasn't for one of the guys at JetBlue, we wouldn't be leaving," he said. "He called ... to help us get a ticket to leave tomorrow. They told us we wouldn't leave until Sunday."
Airline industry experts yesterday credited JetBlue for announcing the suspension of flights, while other airlines offered the standard "check on your flight before leaving for the airport."
"What (JetBlue) did was a smart thing," said analyst Bob McAdoo of Imperial Capital. "A lot of airlines in times like this will end up canceling a substantial portion of their flights and won't necessarily make a formal announcement."
The larger carriers also canceled a significant number of flights Monday, said Robert Mann, of aviation consultancy R.W. Mann & Co. About half of the larger carriers' domestic flights are operated by regional carriers such as American Eagle and Chautauqua.
"If you're trying to preserve the large aircraft operations ... you tend to cancel your regional partners' flights," Mann said. "The difference is you won't see that in Delta's stats. JetBlue doesn't have that option. They're all operated by JetBlue."
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