How to Win Friends and Influence People … Not! No Answers Coming From Jet Blue

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go here Back in February, Jet Blue Airlines CEO David Neeleman undertook an ambitious effort to rescue the brand from crisis following a week of hellish treatment of its customers. I wrote a post praising Neeleman and Jet Blue, saying the airline had set an example in proactive crisis communications by apologizing to its customers and promising to lead the industry in customer satisfaction. I believed that the airline and its CEO had acted wisely in seizing a moment of intense external scrutiny to reaffirm a commitment to excellence and that, in doing so, may well have propelled its brand reputation to a higher altitude.

should homework be banned debate Others were clearly skeptical.

One regular Force for Good reader, a pilot for another airline as it turns out, wrote this scathing comment:

here Nonsense. If this blog is about PR being more than just “spin,” then Neeleman and Jet Blue have to be asked tougher questions. For instance, why did they shut down for almost a week? Because if the answer isn’t about “timely information” or “tools and resources for crew members” or even “improved procedures for handling operational difficulties in the future” than all of this is mere spin.

They shut down because they have structured an airline that flies crews (and works ground ops people) at absolute limits. So when an event like this occurs they “run out of legal time.”

While other airlines can bump up against this wall no one has ever had to shut down for several days to get enough crews “back on the clock.” So the question that needs to be asked is what is Jet Blue doing about this problem?

The answer is spin.

So in early March I sent an e-mail to Jet Blue’s media relations department, identifying myself as the author of a PR blog who had recently lauded the company’s crisis communications but had a tough question for them. I included the question from the comment word-for-word. Recognizing that any media relations department will prioritize mass media ahead of a niche blog, I gave them a week to respond.

No response came. I waited longer. Then I did what many blog-writers do when dealing with so many different topics — I forgot all about it. And undoubtedly that’s what Jet Blue hoped I would do.

Two months after my request for information, I remembered. So I wrote Jet Blue repeating the question: What reforms have you put in place to address the underlying issues of very tightly scheduled crews leading to cancellations because there is no margin for error? I generously gave them 48 hours for a simple reply.

Again, no response came. That was seven days ago.

Neeleman is no longer CEO, having resigned May 9. Or “was replaced.” Take your pick. You can read Neeleman’s version on his blog posting from May 11. Yes, up until May 11 Neeleman had a blog. If that’s what you call an on-line journal which doesn’t allow reader comments.

Jet Blue apparently doesn’t think enough of blogs to bother to respond to an inquiry. Or the airline has no good answer to a pointed question.

Take your pick.

- Jon Harmon

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