Union Blasting JetBlue For Making Flight Attendants Commute From New York JFK To Newark

JetBlue was born at New York JFK, with slots gifted like so much manna from heaven by Senator Chuck Schumer. But JetBlue no longer drinks from the New York Kool-Aid, they’ve talked about moving down to Florida and they’ve built up flights at Newark.

Schedule data from Cirium Diio Mi shows that JetBlue is operating 1685 flights to 29 destinations from Newark this month. However they don’t have the infrastructure at Newark to support their current ambitions. For instance flight attendants regularly have to check in at their New York JFK crew base before taking a rideshare out to Newark. The Transportation Workers Union is blasting the airline for this, and for the staff facilities at Newark airport.

Contra the Transportation Workers Union, I understand that the commute between New York JFK and Newark is at the airline’s expense, not flight attendant expense. I actually asked JetBlue about why JFK-based flight attendants working Newark flights must first check in at JFK and then rideshare to Newark back in early April. They promised me a response and then never replied.

Hat tip to Paddle Your Own Kanoo who points out that JetBlue “is currently building a new break room for crew members at Newark” and claims to have received just a “handful of complaints” about Ubering from New York JFK to Newark.

I would just point out that the crux of all of this is that Newark is not New York.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Ahh, such a lovely, stress-free, smooth commute from JFK to EWR. Tunnel(s) and/or bridge(s)? Dodge the crash scene or construction, or crawl through it? Only the traffic helicopter knows for sure.
    Hope the employees are commuting on the clock.

  2. Makes you wonder how many flights are delayed or cancelled due to lack of crew from accidents in the Holland tunnel or on the GW? I am sure this affects a fair number of passengers as well. I am sure there are a number of snippy flight attendants biting the heads off of passengers after that commute and delays to their flights.

    I ask this quite frequently and it amazes me that nobody seems to care…..but how is it that the airlines get away with requiring their employees to do hours and hours of preparations before and after a flight with no pay? This would land any other business in court…..but the airlines seem to be able to get away with anything they want. Sell tickets for seats they know they don’t have, fraud for anyone other than the airlines….why do we put up with it? Why do we not demand that they treat passengers and staff alike better? I guess the American populous is just too lazy to care about affecting change if it requires any effort on their part any more.

  3. Newark and LGA were about equidistant from our last home in NY and I commuted to both for flights for well over 20 years, with JFK being an “only if I had to” airport, almost every week.

    LGA, was of course pretty much a dump (before the new terminal(s)) BUT, was SOOO much better than Newark, which is one of the worst airports I flew in/out of for years… Why? Well, mostly because of TSA since TSA began… Flight crews get to avoid TSA lines, but of course we don’t…

    Nasty, nasty TSA agents with major attitudes and chips on their shoulders… there were few times I didn’t get into some sort of tiff because of poor treatment or agent-made-up rules just because they could strut their power… plus their inability to handle TSA-pre as we would expect. I’d have to call over a supervisor time and time again because of unprofessional attitudes, or some other “because I said so” actions on their part… and I most often was supported by the supervisor, to the point where they “knew” me… and each time I walked into the Admiral’s Club from the TSA line, they would laugh and ask for that week’s “can you believe it” story from me…

    I pitty anyone who has to fly in/out of Newark, including crews…

  4. The whole pay/seniority thing with FAs and pilots is just a mess. I mostly agree with Ryan W.
    The moment you are at work you should be getting paid. Doesn’t matter what they are doing.

    Those photos have been around for a while. I’m guessing a few were likely staged but that doesn’t change my opinion that companies are just constantly trying to screw employees. Amazon does this stuff all the time.

  5. 1) As someone who lives in midtown Manhattan & uses all 3 of NYC’s major airports (JFK, EWR & LGA), I agree that commuting between ANY of those 3 airports for any reason or any mode of transportation, is difficult, unpleasant, time consuming & especially if late at night between JFK & EWR, most definitely is a journey that CANNOT be made via public transportation what with the vastly reduced frequencies on NYC’s subways, Long Island Railroad &/or New Jersey Transit commuter trains, which would increase the travel time for a trip that already takes at least ~2 hours during the daytime when public transit operates frequently to 4 or more hours – *IF* (that’s the key variable in this equation!) all of the trains are operating on time & there’s no SLLLOOOOOWWW moving work/garbage train plodding along on NYC subway line &/or there’s no other late night route changes/diversions for routine repairs & maintenance (let alone emergency repairs to a cracked rail or stalled train!), which as any New Yorker knows, even in the best of times, happens all the time.

    So, for sure, expecting crews to use public transit to travel between JFK & EWR is patently ridiculous.

    As in full-on bonkers.

    Frankly, even a taxi/ride share trip between much closer LGA & JFK is best avoided – unless you’ve been amply rewarded for giving up your seat because your original flight was overbooked & the airline is paying for the ride between the two airports!

    2) I’m just guessing – but I would imagine that the horrible conditions at the EWR crew rest area are partly explained by the airline hoping to avoid spending money to renovate existing (or lease/build out new) facilities at EWR’s decrepit & dilapidated Terminal A, which will close & be torn down when the now under construction, $2.7 billion, 33-gate, NEW TERMINAL A* opens next year (1st phase “early 2022”; completion by year end).

    *EWR Terminal 1 now OFFICIALLY renamed “New Terminal A” by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

    Just the same, *SERIOUSLY* JetBlue – too few (broken down) chairs or other reasonably comfortable & usable furniture?!?!

    Yeah, yeah, I know the explanation is going to be something like “it’s the 3rd party contractor’s fault”… [ cue: bigly eye rolls]

    Rent some usable furniture if you don’t want to buy anything that “won’t work” with that big, beautiful crew base you’re also probably going to say is planned for New Terminal A when it opens next year!


    3) For the union haters out there:

    I hereby offer “Exhibit A” as to why – hate ‘em or not – unions exist.

    Don’t like/hate unions & don’t want them at your companies?

    Then don’t treat/abuse your employees like JetBlue (*allegedly*) has at EWR Airport.

    Because, if this situation for JetBlue’s EWR crews, as alleged, is true, then not only should JetBlue be embarrassed and ashamed, it has more than proven why unions are needed at companies that disrespect and undervalue their employees.

    Just sayin’ 😉

  6. As long as the staff are paid their normal pay rate while transferring that they would make while flying, they shouldn’t care much. If that’s not the case, they’re getting hosed.

  7. Newark is grim, but at least you can get there by train without traffic . . . not possible at LGA (which is also still grim and the lipstick the renovation put on that pig does little to alter the reality that you are now walking 3 times as far to get to the same ugly gate areas (after a worse trip to the airport). The ability to take the subway to JFK and avoid the schedules of NJT and the horrible third-world monorail make that the best Hobson’s Choice for now.

  8. “Newark is not NY” – neither in JFK, both roughly equidistant from midtown. Granted, Newark sucks, but no more difficult to get to than JFK (and often easier, esp by train).

  9. Menashe: Learn some basic geography before you stick your foot in your mouth even further. New York is not just midtown Manhattan….and JFK is in Queens, a borough of NYC.

  10. For once I take the side of the union. Being from NY, JFK to EWR is a nightmare if you have to do it as a flight attendant taking public transportation. I stopped taking the subway (despite carrying pepper spray and a knife which is problematic to use) because of too many incidents in recent years. The express bus takes 2 hours from 34th street sometimes because of traffic. Metro north is the only decent thing with reasonable on time performance and safety.

    If Jetblue needs these flight attendants to do a co-base, it needs to pay for a taxi or Uber that increases the level of safety.

    If it weren’t for unions protecting the worst rated flight attendants and protecting worst in the world service, good flight attendants would fairly negotiate a fair wage structure directly with airlines that takes into account that workers ought to be paid when they are required to be there. $4 Standby pay is unacceptable. If you have to wait in a room for 4 hours, you should be paid for it.

    We want flight attendants to be sharp/friendly/up to standard. Making them ride public transportation for 2 hours and wait in a small room for 5 hours is not helping that.

  11. But this finally aligns crew and passenger interests nicely. If a flight is delayed, we all suffer. I just say I kinda like that.

  12. While not a fan of NY politicians, they did get the Department of Transportation to grant Jetblue 75 slots at JFK.

    JFK at that time was underutilized during all the morning and early afternoons.

    Allowing a new domestic competitor in to that airport most would agree was a good thing?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *