Monday, October 31, 2011

A Nightmare at my Local Airport on Jet Blue -- What a Difference a Day Makes

Last Friday night I flew back on Air Canada from Montreal, where I had given a research seminar at the Desautels Faculty of Management on perishable supply chains in health care.

My hosts there were fabulous and the day went by much too quickly.

The colleagues there in Management Science and Operations Management are trailblazers intellectually and professionally and I had a visit that I will long remember. Plus, I had excellent questions during and after my presentation.

On my flight to Montreal from Bradley airport in Hartford, Connecticut, the nearest airport to where I live, which sometimes feels like my home away from home, since I fly so much, the evening prior I had seat 1A on the Air Canada Beech aircraft and was responsible, if needed, to open the exit door.

On my flight from Montreal to Bradley, I, again, got seat 1A, and I enjoyed feeling almost as if I was in a car since I sat right behind the pilot and co-pilot, who made the announcements, and I could see all the instruments and out the front window. I had been told, when I checked in at the Montreal airport, that I would be the only passenger, which would have been quite the experience but then two gentlemen joined me.

We landed at Bradley at around 9PM on Friday to almost a deserted airport.

The day after, the scene was entirely different and my "hometown" "international" airport made national news when a JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Newark, New Jersey got rerouted because of the freaky October snowstorm that walloped the Northeast and resulted in over 3 million without electric power.

As you may or may not know, Bradley is not an airport that handles JetBlue (whereas JetBlue is now the biggest carrier out of Boston Logan), so when the flight landed at 2PM on Saturday the passengers waited and waited and there was a parapalegic, a crying baby, and a diabetic on board.

The pilot was incredibly calm and professional and was begging to have the plane tugged in and the passengers let off.

According to CNN:

The pilot, though frustrated, offered thanks to Bradley International officials.

"Listen, I just want to put in my two cents worth in for whatever it is worth. Thank you very much," he said. "It's Capt. Thompson over here on (Flight) 504 ... I think we've got more help from you guys than our own people."

The passengers broke into applause when the door finally opened at 9PM, saying "Let us out! Let us out! Let us out!"

JetBlue apologized for the situation and blamed it on a "confluence of events," including intermittent power outages that complicated matters.

"We worked with the airport to secure services, but our flights were six of the 23 reported diversions into Hartford, including international flights (picture big jets carrying hundreds of people), the airline said on its website. "Getting all the flights deplaned at the same time
in a small airport is not unlike trying to get an elephant into a smart car; it's not an easy fit."

And just in, this was not the only horror story at Bradley on Saturday night!