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JetBlue shows Amazon how to behave during a hurricane

As Hurricane Irma bears down on the southeast coast, residents are fleeing Florida. JetBlue is trying to help by capping ticket prices so that desperate residents can hopefully afford a seat as the planes fly out.

The prices for direct flights are capped at $99, and connecting flights are $159 — both prices include tax. In addition, the airline is waiving all cancellation and flight change fees. Other airlines, including Delta and American Airlines, told Yahoo Finance they planned to follow suit.

Up to this point, last-minute tickets for flights out of Florida were reaching four-figure prices. At least on person notice a jump from about $160 to $1020 on the same flight from one night to the next. It’s a common enough occurrence when you’re booking last-minute tickets, which is why almost anyone would recommend booking in advance. But in this case, booking in advance would be well-nigh impossible.

It’s a gracious gesture to make for residents who might have little other hope of safely escaping the path of the Category-5 storm. Unfortunately, it seems other outlets aren’t making it as easy for hurricane victims.

Amazon is facing complaints from worried Floridians who are trying to buy water after grocery stores have sold out. Upon turning to Amazon, they have discovered that the price of bottled water is substantially higher than what they’d have to pay in the stores — even more so when they factor in the shipping charges on non-Prime options.

The prices seem to be the same regardless of region. For example, I’m seeing relatively high prices for a 24-packs of bottled water — $20-$30 depending on the brand. By comparison, a 24-pack of Ozarka is selling at my local grocery store for $4.

When I contacted Amazon and asked for comment about the water allegations, a spokesperson said:

We are actively monitoring our website and removing offers on bottled water that substantially exceed the recent average sales price. Prices have not widely fluctuated in the last month. Lower priced offers are quickly selling out, leaving higher priced offers from third party sellers. If customers think an offer has substantially exceeded in price we encourage them to contact Amazon customer service directly and work with us so we can investigate and take the appropriate action.

That does offer at least some explanation for why the prices have gotten as high as they have. But it still doesn’t explain why $23 isn’t considered as substantially higher than the average sale price.

Meanwhile, Amazon has a Storm Preparedness page on its site, with links to items the average person might need to weather the storm, no pun intended. While bottled water isn’t featured on the grocery subpage, it is selling water purification tablets at a third of the usual price, so that’s something.

The two situations are different, as one involves swiftly moving cargo out of the path of the hurricane, and the other involves swiftly moving it into the path. Still, it seems like a bit of a kick to Hurricane Irma’s victims.