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February 22, 2007

JetBlue – Words and Action

I flew JetBlue right after the Valentine’s Day blizzard. Couple of my flights were late but this seemed to be a Kennedy Airport rather than a JetBlue specific problem. One flight was posted ontime but left half an hour late which was annoying but not infuriating.  On one flight the little TVs didn’t work and the crew said we should call JetBlue and get a $10 voucher. I promptly forgot about it.

CEO and founder David Neeleman’s YouTube apology for the many passengers seriously inconvenienced impressed me. Too many CEOs would be hiding behind their flacks rather than taking direct responsibility.  But words are just words.

Yesterday I got an email from JetBlue which begins:

“Dear Tom,

“Thank you for flying with JetBlue Airways on flight #11 from New York's JFK on February 18, 2007. We apologize that the DIRECTV programming was inoperable during your flight.

“To thank you for your understanding, we have issued you a $10 JetBlue electronic voucher…”

Actions speak louder than words.  Usual practice would be issue the vouchers only to those who complain.  JetBlue went out of its way to reach those affected.

The airline has had a honeymoon with travelers in its first few years.  But a company shows its true grit when it has a mistake – particularly a big one – to cope with.  JetBlue didn’t handle the storm well.  Obviously passengers stranded on runways for eight hours and huge numbers of flights canceled are more important than TVs not working. The real test will be in how they handle the next storm. But the proactive attention they’re paying to all of their problems is a good early indicator.

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