I have been flying JetBlue for almost a year. And, as I sit in an airport terminal, having missing my JetBlue flight, I feel it’s the right time to vent about my problems with JetBlue.

In March of this year, I posted a review of JetBlue on Yelp, describing my issues. I have encountered the same issues multiple times, and yet a search on Google will turn up next to nothing about these problems. Here’s my review:

My favorite airline without a doubt. Friendly crews, comfortable accomodations, relatively inexpensive fares.

My only complaints are IT-related. They seem to have serious reliability issues. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they are publicly a Microsoft-only IT shop. Twice that I know of this year, their systems have gone down.

I was in Columbus, and the plane was seriously delayed. They didn’t know when the plane would be in. They were able to tell me that my connecting flight to San Jose was going to be late, because its plane was still on the ground elsewhere. Before we boarded in Columbus, I asked them to check the status of my connecting flght. They couldn’t as their terminal had stopped working. I called the airline’s main number, but the automated system said that they were under heavy call volume and to try again later. It then hung up on me.

The JetBlue website told me that my flight didn’t exist. Seriously. All flights that I looked up on their website came back with an empty list and a message that such a flight was not happening on the date I provided.

I ended up taking my flight to JFK. When I landed I found out that my flight out of JFK had left on time–they had found a different plane to take the flight. Wonderful.

The evening was spent in the JFK terminal, which was standing-room-only. The Wi-Fi didn’t work, apparently because there was too much load. (It wasn’t giving out addresses, so either the Windows server that runs it had crashed, or it didn’t have enough addresses to hand out.) It worked later, after most of the people had gotten on their flights and I was one of 30 people left in the terminal.

I got rescheduled for the next flight to San Jose, which was, amazingly, 24 hours after the one I missed. They weren’t willing to give me a hotel room because they said the delay was weather-related. (Note that the delay was weather-related, but my being stuck in New York instead of near home was because of them.) It wasn’t until later that night that I realized that they could take me to Oakland and SFO. All I had to do was rent a car in Oakland and take it back to San Jose, which cost me a hundred bucks.

I continue to fly JetBlue, even though I fly into Columbus and rent a car to get to Cincinnati, which is my second home. It’s cheaper than flying Delta into Cincinnati, and it’s a nicer flight.

I have also realized that Winter is a problem for JetBlue. Both of their hubs are in the Northeast US, and when bad weather strikes New York, it’s likely to strike Boston. I considered flying another airline until Winter was over. I was almost caught in the infamous ordeal in February where JetBlue customers were stuck in planes at JFK, but I got re-routed at the last minute to Boston the night before instead. According to what I’ve seen, the problems at JFK were also IT-related.

What would make the airline better? Get some reliable systems! Standardization on a single platform can save you money…pick a RELIABLE platform on which to standardize!

Here’s my update: In May 2007, JetBlue changed their flight schedule and essentially eliminated me. They only flight I could take to get to San Jose left at 6:00 AM. This meant I would have to be at the airport at 5:00. This meant I would have to leave home at 3:00AM to make the flight.

I’ve been flying Delta for the last six months. None of their systems crashed. Their flights were always on time, with only one exception, which they handled with ease.

So today I’m taking my return flight for my first JetBlue flight in six months. I arrived late, which was my fault. I watched them pull the Jetway back after I had been there for 5 minutes, banging on the door.

Apparently their policy is to allow the flight to leave early as long as everyone has checked in. So even though I wasn’t on the plane, they could leave early because I had checked in online. Despite the fact that this policy is not documented anywhere, including at the gate, where it says “Arrive 10 minutes before the flight leaves”.

So after finding out that there’s not another connecting flight today, I resigned to find another flight back. After doing a little research I found that I can get a JetBlue flight to a nearby airport (SFO instead of SJC) and that it will leave today! Great! So I called 1-800-JETBLUE to book the travel (because you can’t apply a travel credit online). After waiting on hold for 10 minutes, I’m told that their “booking system has crashed”, and they’re asking customers to call back in 30 minutes.

How can an airline run on sub-par systems? While IT failures probably occur at all airlines, JetBlue sure seems to enjoy far more of them than any other airline with which I’ve dealt.

JetBlue is publicly a Microsoft Windows-only operation. They are apparently proud of this fact.