Controllable Irregularity – Defined and Legit

Customer Service, Delays/Cancellations, JetBlue

Good news for JetBlue fliers, I think. The mystery surrounding “Controllable Irregularity” has now officially been solved. Thanks to Flight Wisdom for noticing that JetBlue has put up their new contract of carriage (PDF) which not only includes the Customer Bill of Rights but it even defines Controllable Irregularity. So what does it mean?

Controllable Irregularity as used in Section 36, means a delay, cancellation, or diversion that is not caused by Force Majeure Event. For the sake of clarity, if in a chain of multiple events, the original irregularity is due to a Force Majeure Event, the cause of the subsequent event(s) reasonably related to the original irregularity shall be deemed an Uncontrollable Irregularity.

Oh man. Now we have to define Force Majeure Event and Uncontrollable Irregularity. Here’s Force Majeure Event.

controllableForce Majeure Event mean an event(s) outside of JetBlue’s reasonable control and includes, but is not limited to, weather conditions; acts of government or airport authorities (e.g., Air Traffic Control Delays, runway closures, airport construction); acts of God, U.S. military or airlift emergency or substantially expanded U.S. military airlift requirements, as determined by the U.S. government; grounding of a substantial number of aircraft as a result of activation of the U.S. Civil Reserve Air Fleet; strikes or labor unrest; civil commotions, embargoes, wars or other hostilities, whether actual, threatned or reported; government regulation, demand or requirement; damage to aircraft caused by a third-party; emergency situation reuiring care, protection or response to protect person or any event that is not resonably foreseen, predicted or anticipated by JetBlue.

And if you can still see straight, here’s Uncontrollable Irregularity, which is mercifully short.

Uncontrollable Irregularity, as used in Section 36, means a delay, cancellation or diversion that is caused by a Force Majeure Event.

Soooooo, what does that mean again? Basically it’s what we thought it meant. The good news is that I don’t have to change my graphic. I think military coups are covered under “wars or other hostilites” or possibly “civil commotions” whatever that means. Dinosaur attacks, well, they aren’t specifically mentioned in there, but it’s definitely out of JetBlue’s control so that would also be a Force Majeure Event – meaning you get no moolah from the Blue people.

Remember, the whole Controllable Irregularity thing only applies cancellations and departure delays. The whole ground delay thing that occurred at JFK on Valentine’s Day would be covered regardless of cause, just like any other long ground delay.

Looking at the official Customer Bill of Rights, there are a couple subtle changes here from the original doc. One in particular is disturbing. If you are entitled to a refund, you don’t get any taxes and fees back. That can add up to a pretty significant chunk of the ticket, so it’s going to be a nice slap in the face to the inconvenienced customer.

In general, JetBlue has kept their legal obligations pretty light here. Whether people are satisfied or not will lie completely in the execution of the agreement. My guess is that JetBlue is going to be overcompensating since that’s their culture and they know they have a lot riding on their customer service right now. If that’s not the case, the media will be sure to let us hear all about it.

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11 comments on “Controllable Irregularity – Defined and Legit

  1. Corret me if I am wrong, but has JetBlue acutally taken on more obligations than any other carrier?

    In my flying history, I have found that airlines generally do compensate for cancellations, etc. caused by their own incompetence (ie technical issues with planes, overbooking, lack of personnel). They have just never been willing to compensate for weather delays and the like. Can you describe for me a few scenarios in which JetBlue is ACTUALLY more liable than another carrier?

    And, just to be clear, I don’t think their new language would obligate them to refund passengers in the future for another VD disaster. The underlying cause to all of that was weather, which JB is still not taking responsibility for.

  2. Actually, yes they have taken on more. Here’s the difference:

    *Cancellations – Airlines will rarely compensate you for cancellations. Yes they will refund the price of the ticket if you’d like, but you won’t get anything above and beyond that. JetBlue will match the other airlines, but when a cancellation is their fault, they’ll also give you a voucher.

    *Departure Delay – Again, I haven’t seen many airlines hand out compensation for a simple delay, even if it is their fault. JetBlue will give vouchers when it’s their fault.

    *Ground Delay – Regardless of whether it’s a departure or arrival, if the plane is stuck on the ground away from the gate, you will get compensated. No airline compensates for this (unless pressured by the media, like American in Austin). JetBlue will compensate customers regardless of fault. That means that all customers stuck on airplanes over VD would have been compensated under this plan.

    *Overbooking – If you are involuntarily denied boarding, you will get $1,000. This is kind of irrelevant since JetBlue doesn’t overbook, but it’s still more than double what you’d get on another airline.

  3. That is all fine and nice, but it is all predicated on a non Force Majeure event.

    How many delays, cancellations and what not really occur that cannot be easily tied to WEATHER or the GOVERNMENT?

    If you can describe to me (which, if anyone can, it is you) the scenarios under which my JB flight is delayed or cancelled that THEY and THEY ALONE cause, I’ll buy that they have actually stepped up and done something special for their consumers.

    As of now, I think they made a big show with a big trapdoor to escape through.(and you thought you were cranky!)

  4. Let’s put aside ground delays which they’ll compensate for regardless of cause.

    For delays and cancellations, they do leave it up to interpretation and they could screw people if they want. My guess is that they’re going to overcompensate because they know the media will be waiting in the wings to jump all over them if they don’t.

    My guess is that they leave it so vague in their contract of carriage so that nobody can sue them if they don’t compensate. That may be a cop-out, but all I care about is how they actually do perform. If they leave people high and dry, I’ll be happy to jump on the dogpile!

  5. I agree – only what they do counts, but don’t give them extra credit for writing this bit of fluff. It doesn’t seem like they have committed to much more than any other carrier.

    And, why do you assert all ground delays are covered? Ground delays can be caused by weather and ATC too, no? The Force Majeur carve out would cover there too, no?

  6. ignore my last comment. I actually read the damn contract (pretty exciting stuff) and I see that there was a whole other clause (36 E and F) about ground delays getting compensation ‘regardless of cause.’

    I now agree that they have done something different, espeically as they have promised to get you off the plane after five hours, which would open them up to a suit it they didnt.

    Not as bad as I thought.

    Less cynically yours…

  7. though, it is interesting that they exclude non-rev passengers from these rewrds.

    if they hose you while you are on a miles ticket, no moolah for you!

    slightly more cynically yours…

  8. Actually, mileage passengers are not non-revenue passengers — they are revenue passengers who paid a revenue fare of $0. (I know, I know). Non-revenue passengers are staff adn eligibles of the airline or of other airlines.

  9. At least from my reading of the Conract of Carriage, that is not the case for JetBlue. Per the language below, non-rev passengers include rewrad passengers.

    “passenger… who is traveling on a JetBlue travel certificate, a employee pass, a travel pass issued to JetBlue employeres…, a JetBlue frequent flier program award (known as TrueBlue Award or TruePass)…

  10. Meaningless – their customer service response indicates they don’t take responsibility for their agents actions or non-action, reservation system or boarding system.

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