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JetBlue hopes for few blips in reservation switch

Traveling on JetBlue this weekend could get messy.

The Forest Hills-based discount airline is transferring to a new reservation system.

Passengers will be unable to check flight status, check in at or make changes to an existing itinerary online for 24 hours beginning at noon Friday. They also won't be able to book travel at all.

In addition to those inconveniences, JetBlue is warning of longer lines at Kennedy, LaGuardia and other airports and is urging passengers to arrive early.

For JetBlue, the biggest concern is ensuring a smooth transition and avoiding any customer service nightmare.

The carrier says it is ready for potential delays and slip-ups after preparing two years for the switch. However, other airlines have attempted to switch reservation systems in recent years with less-than-stellar results, including widespread delays, baggage problems and help-center backups.

To help prevent delays, JetBlue recommends travelers arrive at the airport early Friday, Saturday and Sunday - two hours before a domestic flight and three hours for international trips.

The company has removed 56 flights from the weekend schedule. Remaining flights will only be 30 percent to 60 percent full - another move to ease stress at the airports.

The airline said it chose one of the slowest travel weekends of the year to make the switch. Fewer people book flights on the weekends, JetBlue said, so the shutdown will affect fewer passengers.

During the transition time, part of the old system will stay active at airports for customer check-in and boarding. Spokesman Mateo Lleras said passengers won't likely see any change "except for slightly longer lines."

JetBlue said additional staff will be on hand to help customers. If a customer does miss their flight because of long check-in times, the airline said it will rebook the customer on the next available flight.

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