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QUEENS, N.Y. — Kisha Spencer was angry and frustrated that she and her daughter were removed from their JetBlue flight to Cancun after getting into a dispute with the flight crew.
“I feel terrible,” Spender added. “They kicked us out. They canceled our flight, and now we don’t know what to do.”
Long lines and complaints were easy to find among other JetBlue travelers at JFK Airport this week.
JetBlue said recent severe thunderstorms throughout the northeast are primarily to blame for the schedule disruptions.
According to a company statement sent to NY1, “Summer is always a difficult time with July in New York typically seeing about 50% of the days in the month being placed into an FAA ATC Severe Weather Avoidance Program (SWAP). This year, our northeast focus cities – where most of our aircraft fly – have seen some of the wettest weather in recent memory, with 75% of the first two weeks of the month being placed in an ATC SWAP program. These difficult weather patterns resulted in flight delays, diversions and, unfortunately, downline flight delays.”
However, officials for the union that represents its flight attendants said the airline is simply understaffed and workers are paying the price.
“They brought back more flying, but they haven’t necessarily brought back more employees, and so they’re overworked and they’re being treated very badly,” said Tom McDaniel, international vice president of Transport Workers Union of America. He says crews are being pressured to meet the demand at the expense of service and safety.
“The vice president of our department has started sending out intimidating emails to flight attendants, encouraging them to come to work no matter what. Obviously, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. If somebody is experiencing symptoms or if they’re infected, we don’t want them at work,” McDaniel said.
A JetBlue spokesperson said the company lost staff though the pandemic and is now actively working to hire 4,300 crewmembers.