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Craptacular (non-)standby experience at JFK

Craptacular (non-)standby experience at JFK

Old May 10, 11, 8:52 am
  #1  
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Craptacular (non-)standby experience at JFK

Last week I flew JFK-BOS to position myself for a MR. My efforts to fly standby were quite frustratingly unsuccessful.

I arrived at the airport expecting to just relax a bit before my flight, not even thinking about flying out early. That was before I got the notice that my flight was going to be an hour late and likely cause me to miss my dinner in Boston. With a bit of motivation and luck that the TSA line was pretty quick I was through to the gate 20 minutes prior to the earlier flight’s scheduled departure time. Surely it would be no problem to get myself on a standby list and, with any luck, up to Boston in time for dinner. The gate agent was busy so I stepped over to the service center right next to the gate.

"Sorry, but you cannot be added to the standby list. The flight is closed."

Mind you they were still boarding the flight and they had a dozen or so folks standing around waiting to see who would clear off the standby list into one of the few empty seats still available, but they guy I was speaking with insisted the flight was "closed." I tried with the gate as well and couldn’t even get a word in before I was dismissed by the agent. At this point it was pretty clear I was not getting on the flight but I was also curious to see how the event would play out as there were a number of non-revenue passengers also waiting for seats and I was curious how many of them would get to fly ahead of a revenue customer. The answer was at least 5.

I waited 90 minutes for a supervisor to show up and explain the policy to me and clarify my inquiries regarding the priority for the list. They never showed. Eventually I had to go catch my actual flight.

VERY disappointing experience with the ground crew in JFK.

Oh, and if you plan on flying standby make sure you're at the airport entirely too early or they may just decide to skip you, too.
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Old May 10, 11, 8:54 am
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So B6 wanted to get its employees and friends on the plane before a revenue passenger? Is that what basically happened?
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Old May 10, 11, 9:15 am
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Originally Posted by magiciansampras View Post
So B6 wanted to get its employees and friends on the plane before a revenue passenger? Is that what basically happened?
To my untrained eye, yes. They put a couple crew in jump seats but they also assigned several to regular revenue seats. In fact, two of the crew originally assigned seats by the GA insisted on being put in jump seats to accommodate more passengers. But they still wouldn't take more revenue customers. I wasn't the only one turned away without proper consideration by the GA.
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Old May 10, 11, 6:29 pm
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While your experience certainly sounds unpleasant, how can you be sure that the non-revs weren't, in fact, deadheading?

As you know, deadheaders take precedence over revenue pax, since without crew at the out-stations, those flights could not be operated.

Also, as a side note, to me the most unpleasant aspect of T5 is the virtually constant epic line at security, which, interestingly, was rarely a problem when B6 operated out of T6.
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Old May 10, 11, 7:13 pm
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From the JetBlue website "...If you are not checking bags, you must check in no later than 20 minutes prior to scheduled departure..." There was no mention as to when you showed up to the gate, but you did mention that they were boarding so you may have been within that 20 minutes for the flight you were trying to get checked in onto. Keep in mind "flight is closed" has a few meanings - closed for check in - closed for further boarding. As you get closer to departure time the agents have lots of things to worry about and adding one more stand by to the list will not help them get the flight out on time.
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Old May 10, 11, 8:36 pm
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Originally Posted by kennedytower View Post
As you get closer to departure time the agents have lots of things to worry about and adding one more stand by to the list will not help them get the flight out on time.
I'm afraid this is true. As you pointed out, you arrived to the gate 20 minutes before departure. 20 minutes before is when check-in is closed off and standbys begin to be cleared to unoccupied seats. The service center would not be able to add you to the standby list, as once the flight is set to closed for check-in, they would not be able to add that segment to your reservation-the gate agents for that flight would be the only ones able to modify the manifest at that point.

Originally Posted by sbm12
Oh, and if you plan on flying standby make sure you're at the airport entirely too early or they may just decide to skip you, too.
You don't have to be there entirely too early, but before check-in is closed for a flight and boarding begins (30 minutes before) is a good rule of thumb, in my experience. I'm sorry you didn't have a more positive experience, but the gate agents are indeed quite busy (not with solely clearing standbys, either), and it's possible there was more going on than was immediately apparent.
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Old May 13, 11, 3:33 pm
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Originally Posted by TWA Fan 1 View Post
While your experience certainly sounds unpleasant, how can you be sure that the non-revs weren't, in fact, deadheading?
I know the difference. They were non-revving. Several were OAL passengers.

Originally Posted by TWA Fan 1 View Post
Also, as a side note, to me the most unpleasant aspect of T5 is the virtually constant epic line at security, which, interestingly, was rarely a problem when B6 operated out of T6.
There was no line in my case.

Originally Posted by kennedytower View Post
From the JetBlue website "...If you are not checking bags, you must check in no later than 20 minutes prior to scheduled departure..." There was no mention as to when you showed up to the gate, but you did mention that they were boarding so you may have been within that 20 minutes for the flight you were trying to get checked in onto.
It was right around the 20 minute point. They did not start to clear the non-rev standby customers until 10 minutes prior to departure. In the meantime they were mostly chatting and gossiping. Maybe there was also real work going on but it wasn't obvious. And I see no reason to not add folks to the list until you're ready to actually process the list. Just doesn't make sense to me.
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Old May 14, 11, 7:47 am
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
I know the difference. They were non-revving. Several were OAL passengers.
I'ts really not important, but a little information would be helpful (your response reminded me of a child telling his parent "because" when asked for an explanation).

Also, some OAL deadheading may also take precedence over revenue pax.
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Old May 15, 11, 7:37 am
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Originally Posted by TWA Fan 1 View Post
I'ts really not important, but a little information would be helpful (your response reminded me of a child telling his parent "because" when asked for an explanation).

Also, some OAL deadheading may also take precedence over revenue pax.
I know they were non-revving because:
1) Many were chatting about it during the wait, including a couple discussing whether they'd have to take a cab to LGA to get seats instead.
2) The GAs filling out paperwork confirmed that they were non-rev customers.
3) The supervisor who never actually appeared but whom I spoke with also stated that, while reviewing the Sabre information that he was seeing, some were non-revs.

The OAL employees were not deadheading. One was a ground-crew employee for VX who was just going up to BOS for leisure. A couple others were DL employees headed home after working a turn.
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Old May 18, 11, 2:14 pm
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I just had the exact same issue in BUF.

I left afternoon meetings to get on the afternoon flight to Boston because the evening flight (1218) is always delayed at least an hour. I get to the airport, confirm that while the afternoon flight is sold out, I'm #1 on the standby list. While I realize this doesn't guarantee me a seat, when I used to fly USAir, and being in the Top 3 on standby for a sold out (50 person) CRJ flight all but guaranteed you a seat. As such, I loved my odds for the 100 person ERJ JetBlue flight.

Fast forward to the end of boarding, where a guy who works for JetBlue on the ground crew (and was on vacation) somehow gets on the plane but I don't. And to further clarify, the gate agent even said "the jumpseat is taken, put him in the front row" right in front of me. Then, after waiting a few more minutes, I was told "sorry flight is completely full." I said "you're saying that 100 out of 100 people showed up for this flight?" and he nodded his head.

I was (and am still) extremely ticked off. It's bad enough that I lost the benefit of priority standby (although that wouldn't have made a difference today) when I switched from US Airways elite to JetBlue, but to have a non-rev employee get my seat (leaving me stuck in the terminal for the following 4+ hours) is crazy. If that's JetBlue policy, then so be it--but they need to say so. Of course JetBlue would lose business customers (who rely on standby) with that move. Instead, we're told one thing, while in reality, the 'buddy policy' is implemented. I have loved JetBlue for many things, but I'm on my last straw with them. I'm missing all the elite perks I used to have, but was willing to drop them in lieu of: a) great customer service & b) free satellite tv. It now seems that the customer service has been spotty as of late & about 25% of my flights have an issue with the tv system nowadays.

I never thought I'd say this...but I may actually return to the legacy carriers.
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Old May 18, 11, 9:06 pm
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Originally Posted by moulder3 View Post
If that's JetBlue policy, then so be it--but they need to say so.
It's not (unless they were a must-ride or something, which I doubt). You should write into customer commitment.
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Old Jun 3, 11, 7:00 pm
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A different standby experience

I once booked an afternoon JFK-IAD flight since it was about $100 cheaper than the AM flight I wanted to go on. On the day of departure, I showed up at the airport 2 1/2 hours before the AM flight was scheduled to leave and asked to standby for the AM flight. I received the priority verification card and proceeded to the gate. After all revenue pax were boarded, my name was the first standby to be called. A few B6 and OAL jumpseating crew were accommodated after me as well and we left on time with a few open seats. That afternoon, summer t-storms hit the northeast and my original flight was cancelled. YMMV.
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