JetBlue to Pay $600,000 to Settle Consumer Rights Accusations

JetBlue fineThe U.S. Department of Transportation fined JetBlue Airways $600,000 for allegedly breaking rules designed to protect disabled passengers and not disclosing to consumers that it booked flights for them on other airlines.

After reviewing consumer complaints against the carrier, the federal agency alleged JetBlue didn't provide sufficient assistance to disabled passengers getting on and off planes or adequate written responses to consumer complaints. The agency also claimed JetBlue didn't disclose that flights sold by the carrier were flown by a code-share affiliate -- a practice where a carrier will sell tickets that use its designator code but are operated by a different airline.Under a consent order, JetBlue will pay $350,000 in civil fines and another $250,000 to implement changes it agreed to as part of the case.

"We expect airlines to treat their passengers fairly, and we will not hesitate to take enforcement action when carriers fail to respect their rights," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement.

In the consent order agreed to by JetBlue, the carrier said "it values its disabled customers ... [and] is committed to improving service to all passengers." As part of the consent order to avoid a lawsuit by the Department of Transportation, JetBlue agreed to:
  • Form a task force to identify and put changes in place for its disabled customers.
  • Make its website more user-friendly.
  • Create a Disability Customer Care Center to help with the travel needs of disabled passengers before their flights.
  • Increase training so that the code-share disclosure requirements are met.
Consumer Ally recently warned consumers about how some airlines have been misleading consumers about federal rules that protect consumers when an airline loses luggage.
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