JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines passengers struggled to reach their destinations over the weekend as the airlines canceled hundreds of flights due to staffing issues and bad weather in Florida over the weekend.
Flight woes come as airlines enter merger talks in wake of JetBlue surprise auction for the low-cost airline on Tuesday. The spirit said it would to entertain JetBlue’s offer while not abandoning its prior agreement to merge with fellow low-cost airline Frontier.
The two airlines, which were among the most heavily canceled carriers A week ago as Florida weather issues disrupted nationwide travel, canceled 254 combined flights on Sunday after cutting more than 300 flights on Saturday, according to flight tracking FlightAware. That’s more than half of all flight cancellations in the United States every day.
JetBlue canceled 18% of its Saturday flights and canceled 13% of its Sunday flights as of 2:30 p.m. ET. Spirit canceled 14% of its Saturday flights and canceled 13% of its Sunday flights.
Spring break travelers are scrambling to find new flights, in many cases the next day or later because weekend flights are full, leading to their destination or canceling the trip.
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JetBlue’s misfortunes prompted the airline’s president to send an apology email to employees on Saturday night.
“We had some big news at JetBlue this week, and while it has rightly been the subject of a lot of buzz, I want to assure you that our #1 priority right now is the operation,” said said Joanna Geraghty. “You have been nothing short of amazing in very difficult circumstances, and we want to thank you for all you do to take care of our customers. We are failing you and our customers and that is not what we represent.
Geraghty said bad weather and air traffic control (ATC) delays caused “cascading problems” this month. Flight cancellations and delays have displaced planes and flight crews, compounding a staff shortage. this year, but it’s still short, Geraghty said.
“We are working around the clock to cope with some of the toughest operating conditions we have ever faced as a business,” the memo reads.
Spirit spokesman Erik Hofmeyer said the low-cost airline was still struggling with flight cancellations as it recovered from bad weather and ATC issues on Thursday and Friday in Florida.
A quick fix is not expected as the airline industry adjusts to post-pandemic travel.
JetBlue plans to proactively reduce flights for the rest of April to reduce last-minute cancellations that are stranding travelers, Geraghty said, and it also plans to reduce its summer flight schedule by at least minus 8% to 10% despite the forecasts of a increase in travel.
Are flights refunded in the event of cancellation?
Travelers whose flights are canceled by an airline for any reason should receive a refund, not just a travel credit, in accordance with U.S. Department of Transportation regulations.
With respect to the reimbursement of hotel stays, meals, flights on another airline and other charges accrued in the event of a flight cancellation or delay, however, there is no US government regulations. Airline policies vary in these cases, dictated by a legal jargon called “contract of carriage”.
Late Saturday, for example, Spirit was handing out $21 food stamps at Florida’s Orlando International Airport after canceling a number of late-night flights. The airline was directing travelers to a website to rebook hotels and recommending travelers get refunds through customer service.
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