Update: a few hours after this post hit the internets, I received a very kind and apologetic phone call and email from JetBlue. Debbie C. at JetBlue Corporate really understood my concerns and took the time to address each one thoroughly. This is the kind of customer service that I had grown accustomed to receiving from JetBlue, and I’m glad to see they still care about their customers. As I said to Debbie, I’m going to chalk this one up to technical difficulties and (perhaps) a newly trained ticketing agent. Thank you, JetBlue, for doing the right thing!
My daughter has been flying coast-to-coast as an unaccompanied minor for more than three years. In those three years, she has flown roughly 15 round-trip flights. This means she has boarded a plane alone at least 30 times. As a parent, this can be nerve wracking, but I have learned to trust the airlines to be very diligent with her care and their records regarding her flights.
We pay an additional fee for the JetBlue Unaccompanied Minor service and I expect perfection. Lizzy has flown with JetBlue for more than half of her flights, and we didn’t have any issues until last week.
When I arrived at the airport to pick-up my daughter, I went to check-in at the ticket counter to get my gate pass like I always do. After providing the ticketing agent with the flight number and confirmation number, she looked in her computer and immediately called over a supervisor. They explained to me that there was no pick-up or drop-off information in their computer. Somehow, they let my child board a flight with no information in their system about who was to pick her up on the other side.
For security reasons, they could not issue me a gate pass since my information was not in their computer. I was told I would have to meet my daughter at baggage claim, and that I could call customer service to complain.
Before I start my rant, I will say that each unaccompanied minor boards the plane with a necklace containing pick-up information (a carbon copy of paperwork filled out by an adult at drop-off). That said, what if she dropped it in the toilet by mistake? Spilled a bottle of water on it?
My eight year old daughter was expecting me to meet her at the gate like I always do. She (of course) got nervous when she didn’t see me waiting there and had to walk through the airport with a flight attendant. I got nervous too! How can I expect a flight attendant to be totally responsible for my child walking through a crowded airport? It was JFK for crying out loud! Children get abducted when they are with their parents… am I supposed to feel completely comfortable with a stranger walking my child through the airport? It’s one thing when I am the last one to see her when she boards the plane and the first person to take her hand when she deplaned, but this is a whole different level that I didn’t sign up for!
I called JetBlue while I was waiting in baggage claim. The telephone agent was very nice, but told me the best way to get a response would be to contact JetBlue via SpeakUp on their website. So, from my phone, I emailed my complaint immediately.
I got a canned reply! An automated reply for something that is a serious issue and completely negligent on their part. I responded with another strongly worded email, respectfully requesting that they work on their unaccompanied minor policy so this doesn’t happen again, and a refund of my $100 unaccompanied minor fee.
Their reply? Basically this: Sorry lady. Minor Issue. We don’t really care that much. No big deal. Not all complaints result in a full or partial refund.
I don’t know about you, but that is not okay with me. I expect someone at JetBlue to be a horrified as I was. I ask the executives at JetBlue, how would you feel if this was your child?
Do you have an experience to share regarding JetBlue or any other airline and your unaccompanied minor? Did you have any success with a serious acknowledgement from the airline? Tips on how to get a reply from JetBlue that acknowledges the seriousness of this matter?
In the meantime, I guess I’ll be booking all of her flights with Virgin America from now on…my daughter thinks their cooler anyway!