March 13, 2007

Give JetBlue another chance

For the last few years, I have bragged about JetBlue's inovative thinking to anyone who would listen to me. They segmented the flying experience, improved each link in the chain, and created the first real scale breakthrough in people flying since Southwest Airlines.

And then the crash, not of a plane, but a system. Horror stories abound.

For the last few weeks when I mention an innovative JetBlue employee or customer centric strategy, people just roll their eyes and say, "yeah, you heard what happened to them!".

They had a failure to imagine, that is what happened to them. They faced a huge speed bump in their growth. The real issue is how they responded.
1. Hired new operating chief to fix this in the system.
2. Wrote Bill Of Rights and went public with it
3. Cancelled slots to reduce flow and make way for system improvements

Moreover, they are heartbroken about this too. Check out this YouTube clip with their CEO afterwards.

For the last few years they have hired for and promoted human relations between airline and customer. In a dozen or more long haul trips I have been very satisfied, entertained and saved thousands of dollars. It is like Southwest without the cattle call.

I'm taking a stand here. JetBlue thinks differently about their people, their passengers and flying as an experience and not just a delivery service. I'm booked to fly on them later this week and I'm confident it will be fantastic. We have to give the leaders in innovation a second chance. If this happened to Delta (again) or United, we would just yawn. But it didn't, it happened to JetBlue of all airlines. Since they've been seperated as one of the two most profitable airlines, the long knives came out when they had their delay meltdown. I have it on good authority that competitors, posing as customers, piled on to make things worse. And we babbled, blogged and squawked about it. It's time to settle down and give them a mulligan.

Recent coverage:
They Must Keep Thier Promises to Survive on MSNBC

Recommended read: Flying High: How JetBlue Founder and CEO David Neeleman Beats the Competition... Even in the World's Most Turbulent Industry by James Wynbrandt

Posted at 2:18 PM in Travel Tips  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)  |  TrackBack (0)

Comments

Commentor

My girlfriend's brother's entire rugby team got kicked off a Jetblue flight today. Apparently for some questionable reasons. (I wasn't there, so I can't judge that). They are stuck in Boston without any of their luggage in the middle of a major storm for several days. This is a pretty major hardship of lost time and money. Now you have a bunch of mad guys calling everyone they can telling them this horror story. I will NEVER fly Jetblue, something in their culture is apparently broken.

Commentor

I think one of the problems is that people love to get something for nothing. If someone has to wait an extra 15 minutes, or they don't receive a pillow and blanket, or a piece of luggage is lost - they think they deserve a free plane ticket. I am not arguing that what happened to the Jet Blue customers doesn't constitute a free flight, but it seems like the airline industry deals with complaining customers trying to get a handout all the time.

If I get stuck in a 2 hour traffic jam due to a wreck - I don't try and have the cops take away a point on my license, or get a free tow from the tow-truck company b/c they all took so long, and held me up (ok, so probably not the best example...haha). Things happen, and there isn't always a quick and easy solution.

I think that Jet Blue has gone above and beyond to correct the problem, and figure out a way from keeping it from happening again. I would have no problem flying Jet Blue again!

Commentor

Normally I would have to agree with you. However this time I feel differently. I was in the crowds held over and kept on the ground in New York on Jet Blue flights.

It is not the delay that has lost them my business; it is the way that the employees treated the customers. I sat for hours and watched as customers where criticized by Jet Blue employees after they had left the counters with legitimate concerns.

My most memorable one was a single mother trying to get back home to her children, who became stranded in New York, which was a mid point for her. After asking if jet Blue could help her get on another airline to get home, she was pointed to another long line and told to go ask them. After she left the gate attendant turned to her co-worker and said “ I don’t know why they are upset, it’s not like we did anything”. I guess they do not understand that “we” (Jet Blue) had done something, and that the lady, who was very polite but firm, just needed some help.

To top it off I have written Jet Blue several emails since those flights weeks ago and all I get is a form email stating that they are busy and will contact me in 3-5 days, even though it has been weeks.

So with a sad heart (because I was really trying to support them) I take my business elsewhere. Not because their CEO doesn't get it, because I think he does, but because the front line employees didn't get it.

Commentor

I agree. It seems that forgiveness and loyalty have become lost arts in the business world...and especially in the airline industry!

Commentor

Jet Blue, and Southwest will ALWAYS get my business, over any other airline that exist today.

It's not just about their innovatative mindsets either, it's the fact that those who work their "as a rule" will take the time to show you that they are happy to be working their!

I think that Jet Blue could actually turn this potential disaster on it's ear, and I think it's done a pretty good job so far :-)


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