***Update on 07/19/2021 at 13:09 UTC – Inserted details from JetBlue***
The Dominican Republic has summoned representatives of JetBlue to discuss concerns over the mistreatment of passengers and delays to the carrier’s operations. Marte Piantini, President of the Junta de Aviacíon Civil (JAC) of the Dominican Republic, is concerned about recent reports of passenger mistreatment and delays on JetBlue flights.
The Dominican Republic summons JetBlue
The Civil Aviation Board (translated into English, abbreviation JAC) of the Dominican Republic has summoned JetBlue’s manager for Latin America and the Caribbean. Marte Piantini is seeking to learn more about JetBlue’s plans to avoid delays to air operations in the Dominican Republic and avoid putting passengers in uncomfortable situations due to the delays.
Mr. Piantini stated the following on the development:
“The JAC, as the institution in charge of ensuring the facilitation of civil aviation in the country, as established in Law No. 491-06 on Civil Aviation of the Dominican Republic, has received repeated complaints from passengers who express dissatisfaction with the JetBlue treats Dominican passengers. In this sense, we are taking action in this regard, in order to guarantee that the ICAO guidelines are complied with, as well as to provide the good treatment that all Dominican passengers deserve.”
JetBlue under scrutiny in the Dominican Republic
JetBlue is one of many carriers flying into the Dominican Republic, but it has faced some operational issues. For example, looking at RadarBox.com data from flight 1568 from Punta Cana (PUJ) to New York (JFK), which has flown daily since July 5th, has landed on time (defined as within 15 minutes of scheduled arrival time) on only five occasions.
Another flight, B6173, from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Punta Cana, landed on time in Punta Cana only ten times since the start of July, according to RadarBox.com data. Another flight, B61830, from Santo Domingo (SDQ) to Boston (BOS), has not landed on time even once since July 1st, according to data from RadarBox.com.
Another set of operations, from Santiago (STI) to Boston, has arrived late seven times since July 1st and faced a diversion to Miami on July 10th, according to RadarBox.com.
This is just a small sampling of flights, and like many other airlines, sometimes operational disruptions do occur, which can be a big deal for customers. However, JetBlue’s operations seem to have picked up the keen interest of the Dominican Republic’s government over complaints from passengers.
The Dominican Republic is a significant part of JetBlue’s operations. The country is a hotspot for leisure tourism, and JetBlue typically offers multiple flights per day to those destinations. In the general course of operations, not every airline will operate on-time 100% of the time, save for some of the smallest airlines.
JetBlue offered details regarding its operations in the Dominican Republic. Two major challenges the carrier noticed were bad summer weather, and additional paperwork due to the testing requirement. A spokesperson for JetBlue indicated the following:
“Several weeks of severe weather and thunderstorms on the U.S. east coast did result in flight delays at many airports, as the bad weather required runway closures, airport ground stops, and diversions. In the Dominican Republic, our service primarily connects to east coast cities in the United States where the weather has created problems.”
Moreover, regarding the document checks, the airline issued the following statement:
“Along with weather impacts, every customer leaving the Dominican Republic requires additional COVID document checks due to U.S. mandate. Our crewmembers are responsible for verifying documents for each customer which has extended the time of our check-in process.”
JetBlue also highlighted the changes it was making to improve the experience in the Dominican Republic:
- Actively hiring new crewmembers and adding staffing to assist customers
- Working with the Airport Authority to improve lobbies, creating an easier check-in process
- Working to secure additional kiosks to expedite the check-in process
- Moving to cashless purchases to expedite transactions
- Working with a security business partner to implement technology to speed up the COVID document and attestation process at check-in
JetBlue is also committed to continuing to serve the Dominican Republic:
“JetBlue is proud to have served the Dominican Republic for more than 17 years, connecting friends and family, and enhancing the economy. As we work through this new travel environment, we appreciate our customers’ patience and apologize for any inconvenience.”
JetBlue’s history of delays
JetBlue also typically operates from some very congested airports, like New York and Boston. Delays can easily stack up in these airports, and additional complications like air traffic delays or weather issues can wreak havoc on airline operations.
According to data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), JetBlue had an on-time arrival rate in May 2021 of 81.5%, making it the third-worst airline in the US (also considering regional branded operations). The two airlines operating below JetBlue in terms of on-time flights were Southwest Airlines and Allegiant Air.
Looking at more data from the BTS, JetBlue had the following on-time percentage in the US and its position (out of ten possible places) in terms of delays from best to worst:
- January: 77.6% (10th place)
- February: 66.2% (10th place)
- March: 87.8% (fifth place)
- April: 81.9% (seventh place)
- May: 81.5% (eighth place)
Overall, JetBlue has an 80% on-time year-to-date rate. This places it in the ninth position. In tenth place was Allegiant at 79.4%, and in eighth place came Spirit Airlines with 83.1%.
Of course, JetBlue’s on-time percentage varies based on geography, weather, airport operations, and other factors that may be outside of the carrier’s control. However, many other airlines have reached better on-time percentage rates than JetBlue while managing some of those same issues.
For example, Delta Air Lines has notched a year-to-date on-time rate of 91.2% Alaska Airlines has hit 87.8%, and American Airlines has notched 85.7%. JetBlue is not too far from the pack, but it is certainly starting to raise some eyebrows. Delays can be frustrating for customers, and some delays can start to stack up.
Have you faced a JetBlue delay going to or from the Dominican Republic? Let us know in the comments!