In an industry as complex as air travel, sometimes how an airline handles the unexpected reveals the true colours of their brand.
(Just to be clear, jetBlue is not a LikeWhere client (yet!). This is simply an honest account of our first experience of their service).
Recently, my colleague and I flew with Jetblue for the first time: two domestic flights in the continental US.
Because of our natural propensity to complain or give “feedback”, it’s only right to share moments when an airline is intentional in creating a great customer experience. Or, what we have come to believe should be the standard of air travel.
1) The entire terminal was equipped with reliable and free WiFi, no awkward sign-in process, watch this video, or create an account. Few things are free in this world, but this happens to be one of them.
2) While you wait passengers can quickly download an app called Rockbot that enables the passenger to become the DJ for terminal 5 in JFK. It wasn’t long before my colleague - a once aspiring DJ and an avid Carpenters fan - was creating a playlist.
Nothing says "Vacation" like the Carpenters.
3) The plane was clean, modern and the cabin was awash in ambient blue lighting. The staff were friendly with good eye contact and an appropriate amount of banter.
4) Before we departed the captain emerged from the cockpit, took the microphone and addressed the passengers face to face. He introduced and honoured the flight attendants, and assured us that they would do everything in their power to make our experience on board as comfortable as possible.
5) jetBlue offer free unlimited branded drinks and snacks, and we felt it our duty to rigorously challenge their definition of “unlimited.” Every time, without qualms they refilled our glass.
6) Then for the next three hours, we sat back, surfed the web, watched a new release movie and direct tv - for no extra charge.
Should this not be the standard of air travel?
Our return journey was more dramatic.
Our jetBlue flight was delayed by an hour, this squeezed our turnaround in Boston. On landing, we would have 15 minutes to find our gate and catch our connecting flight to Ireland.
We spoke to our flight attendant asking was there any way they could contact the ground crew to inform them that we were coming. Because our international flight was with another carrier there was no way to liaise effectively. However, she assured us that when we landed, she would get us off the plane as quickly as possible.
As we taxied to our jetway, sure enough, our flight attendant informed the other passengers that there were two handsome gentlemen (her words) in the last row of the plane who were trying to catch the last flight that evening to Ireland; could passengers remain in their seats and let them disembark the plane first.
The plane stopped. Everybody remained seated. We grabbed our bags. As we walked from the back of the plane our fellow passengers began to wish us luck. This sentiment grew and crescendoed into the entire plane applauding us.
We were overwhelmed by how genuinely invested the passengers and staff were in helping us make it home. We did hear a few people yell “Run Forrest, run!” (good banter)
The basic brand promises of any airline are price, safety, punctuality and luggage. If the airline is not competitive on pricing or if they are known for losing luggage, arriving late or crashing their planes, they have a fundamental gap in the quality of their service that needs attention before all else.
jetBlue were the cause of our drama by arriving 70 minutes late. And, because of the quick turnaround they were unable to transfer our luggage. Two of the four basic principles of airline quality were not executed: punctuality and luggage. Looking at their company statistics, this is a rare occurrence.
Nevertheless, how their staff were empowered to connect and attempt to solve the problem was so engaging, we arrived home lighter from a lack of luggage, but enriched from our experience of a brand evidently born of a people-centric culture, where every travelling detail was carefully considered.
jetBlue and the passengers of flight 170 to Boston, we salute you.