A couple of days ago, we bought tickets on JetBlue to travel to New York City later this summer. I have to go to a conference, we both want to see some friends — five days should cover it, right? Well, it’s a six-day trip now, because after I made our on-line reservations I called back to add Chloe to my ticket (as I always do), and learned that our outgoing flight already had its full complement of in-cabin pets (all airlines, except Allegiant, have a limited number of available spaces; only four in-cabin pets are allowed on JetBlue flights). That has never happened to me before — perhaps too many people have been reading Dog Jaunt!
I was dismayed for a couple of reasons. Although it’s not a tragedy to be forced to spend an extra day in NYC, it made the trip more costly and required some schedule juggling — and the customer service rep charged me $100 per ticket to change flights to a day earlier.
A second call a day later solved half of my problems: JetBlue will not charge you a change fee if you make your change within four hours of your original booking. Be sure to ask for that perk — the first customer service rep didn’t tell me about it, and I only learned about it because I called back specifically to express my concern that I’d been charged the change fee even though there was no way to tell, on-line, that we wouldn’t be able to get Chloe on our chosen flight.
The original problem remained, though, since we still have to travel a day earlier than planned. If I had known our chosen flight was full-up on pets, I might well have opted to fly on United instead. Here’s what the JetBlue customer service rep told me to do, and it’s good advice for any airline. Either (1) call the airline just before you make your on-line reservation, confirm that there’s space for your dog, make the reservation, then call back instantly to add your dog to your ticket OR (2) make your entire reservation, including your dog’s reservation, over the phone.
I know what you’re going to say — airlines now charge you a fee for making reservations over the phone. It turns out that JetBlue doesn’t, in this situation, so when you call, tell the rep that you’re calling because you’re traveling with an in-cabin dog and remind them that you shouldn’t be charged the usual fee. If you’re working with another airline, call and explain the situation and ask if they’ll waive the fee.
Your second objection is that some airlines, including JetBlue, give you extra frequent flyer credit if you make your reservation on-line. In this situation, however, JetBlue will give you that extra credit even if you make your reservation over the phone (but remind them to, so it doesn’t get overlooked). Again, if you’re working with another airline that has a similar incentive, call first and explain the situation — they too might give you the extra credit, but if they don’t, you can factor that in to your decision-making early on.
This series of phone calls has made me even more appreciative of Continental’s system, which allows you to stipulate that you’re traveling with an in-cabin dog when you search for flights and make reservations on-line.