Tuesday

JetBlue Experience - Sick Passenger Policy

Quick shot taken from my camera on our return flight from our recent Disney trip

Update 3/12: I received a response to my email that simply said JetBlue relies on passengers to monitor their own health and that hopefully next time I travel with them the other passengers will be a bit more courteous regarding traveling when sick. Really? Well, there you have it. Apparently that's how they roll. Given our immune issues we'll have to explore other airlines and their policies, but regardless, we'll definitely be traveling with masks next time. 

I have to preface this by asking you excuse any run-ons or slightly incoherent thoughts. I'm super sick, but wanted to address something while we're in the midst of it.

We are a family of experienced flyers. Patrick has been flying around the world since he was a kid and I've literally been flying my entire life. We are well aware of the risks of exposure to illnesses while traveling. Having had 2 children with weak immune systems, and having issues myself, we take this very seriously. We've mentioned some of our germ-preventing techniques in past travel posts. No matter how hard you try, however, sometimes you can't help but pick things up--especially when inconsiderate fellow travelers make no efforts not to share their lovely germs.

We've come across it time and time again with the general public, friends and even family. We try our hardest to steer clear of unnecessary exposure to sicknesses because what's not so bad to someone else, could land someone here in the hospital. Yet, people who don't have the same concerns expose us without thinking. It happens, we get it.

However, I feel that while individuals may not take personal responsibility for spreading their illnesses, certain companies should in as respectful a way as possible.

On our return flight home we flew with JetBlue. We've actually booked 2 getaways with them in the last year and while there were some bumps here and there, we've been generally content--until now. On our return flight as we waited to board, a family sat near us and one of the girls was visibly incredibly sick. Her face was flushed, her nose was running and she had a really harsh cough that wouldn't quit--she coughed every 1-2 min it was that bad.

If you have immune-compromised children you know exactly how we felt. Our backs stiffened, we looked at each other and instantly looked for a new place to sit. We did move and hoped we wouldn't end up on the same flight as we had seen the family do nothing to prevent spreading what it was they had (including asking the girl to cover her mouth while coughing or not wipe her nose on her hands).

We were called to board in our rows and sure enough, the family boarded as well. We were dismayed to see they were seated right near us as well. We waited to see if JetBlue would take notice of this obviously sick girl. Nothing. We sat through 3 hours of flying while this poor sick girl coughed her way home.

We understand the airline has to be tactful in the way they handle things with passengers and while we absolutely weren't asking they not allow her to fly, it only makes sense they'd at least offer her a face mask or move the family away from other passengers.

Anyway, we're now all 4 sick with something that looks very similar to what this girl had. Again, with asthma and weak immune systems in the family, it's always a concern. I decided to call JetBlue to find out exactly what their policy is in situations such as this. I wanted to know if they failed to uphold their own policy. I thought they certain must have a policy for situations such as this, especially given the issues we've had in the last year with the spread on flights of very serious communicable diseases.

I called and spoke with the general customer service. I explained our situation and concerns and asked what the protocol was. She told me because I had booked a getaway I had to speak with a supervisor in that department and transferred me. The supervisor who picked up was prickly from the moment he first answered. He was curt, offered no answers and offered no apologies. I was told getting sick is "part of flying" and that he was unaware of policies/procedures for sick passengers. I told him I couldn't find anything online (I'd done some research prior to calling hoping to avoid a conversation such as this). He told me if someone is super sick the crew may determine they can't fly, but I had to understand this person may have just been trying to return home. I reiterated that we understood and weren't expecting anyone to be kicked off the plane, but simply wanted to understand why no measures were taken to prevent the spread of illness from this obviously super sick girl. Especially for future flights, we'd like to know that our well-being is as much of a concern as the next person's. I explained that if JetBlue doesn't have a policy in place for scenarios like this that they simply weren't the airline for us. I was told I could go online and submit a request for info, but that's pretty much it. After that he roughly asked me if he could help me with anything else (ironic he implied he had helped me with my first issue) then hung up.

I submitted an email to JetBlue and have yet to hear back. I also tweeted them and received an equally curt and unhelpful response. You can view it HERE.

I'm surprised JetBlue does not list a policy regarding people with communicable diseases or the prevention of the spread of spreadable sicknesses on their site. As a courtesy, it would be nice if passengers took responsibility for preventing the spread of their illness as much as possible, but as a paying passenger, I also expect JetBlue to take my health seriously as well. I don't think we should kick passengers off flights simply because they have the flu, but I do think measures should be taken to delicately at least make an effort to prevent the spread to other passengers in cases like this.

I haven't heard back yet from JetBlue, but given the responses so far my expectations are low. Unless they can turn this around we won't be using them as our go-to airline for flights to destinations they go to.

My word of advice to anyone with special needs kids or family members with compromised immune systems considering flying with JetBlue (based on my experience only) is to go to every length possible to prevent catching anything. I suggest carrying sanitizing wipes, changing clothes right after flights, showering right after flights and wearing a mask if airborne illnesses are a concern.

While these may be extreme measures for those that don't struggle with immune issues, they are well worth it for those that do. We practiced all of the above on all of our lights on our recent sans the masks. I wish we had worn masks, but I naively assumed that if someone was sick to that degree JetBlue would respond differently.

Regardless, I wanted to share our experience in case you have similar concerns or had similar experiences to share. Some of you shared on instagram that you had family members that had experienced similar issues with JetBlue in the past. Please feel free to share here as well and also share any airlines you've come across that handle things better in this area. I'll update if/when we receive an email response.

Fly safe, ADHDers!

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