Of all the myths I've heard covering business -- and I've heard many -- the looniest may be that cut-rate airlines like Southwest (NYSE: LUV ) and JetBlue (Nasdaq: JBLU ) are built better than their legacy counterparts.
Witness yesterday's debacle at New York's Kennedy Airport. As winter weather caused delays and cancellations, 10 JetBlue flights stranded passengers for hours on taxiways or in front of gates. In one extreme example, a flight from Ft. Myers, Fla. that arrived at 10 a.m. didn't deplane till 7 p.m. That's -- count 'em -- nine hours stuck on board with screaming kids and no food.
JetBlue isn't completely to blame, of course. Blizzards across the Midwest and along the eastern seaboard chilled the warm feelings leftover from Valentine's Day. As many as 900 flights were cancelled at Chicago's O'Hare airport, which is a hub for United Airlines parent UAL (Nasdaq: UAUA ) .
Still, JetBlue, by failing to get its customers off its planes in a timely manner, made an already bad situation worse. Shocking.
Please understand, I'm not writing to mock JetBlue. Rather, I'm writing to point out that weather affects all airlines and that -- low-cost or not -- every airline makes customer service gaffes that cost millions.
So, please, can we finally stop sneering at legacy carriers? I realize they're often easy targets. But so are their low-cost peers.
Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know.
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Fool contributor Tim Beyers, who is ranked 1,554 out of more than 22,600 in our Motley Fool CAPS investor intelligence database, no longer flies frequently. But he still enjoys the occasional first-class vacation. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. All of his portfolio holdings can be found at Tim's Fool profile. His thoughts on affinity programs, Foolishness, and investing in general may be found in his blog. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is always on time for departure.