The situation described in “JetBlue Airways: Regaining Altitude” is one that,
unfortunately, more than a few people have experienced. The many problems that unfolded in
the course of only a few short days, were all caused by one main issue, a lack of communication
and communication training in a crisis situation.
What once was a vision has now become a reality that defines JetBlue as a company.
Neeleman envisioned the ultimate flying experience for his customers.
Every seat would come equipped with a television that featured dozens of free channels
provided by satellite signal. Finally, to keep costs down, JetBlue would offer a virtually
unlimited supply of appealing in-flight snacks instead of soggy meals that no one really
wanted. (Argenti, 2009, p.100)
It is obvious that David Neeleman and JetBlue set out to exceed customer satisfaction and in
general, tend to go above and beyond what the average airline has to offer. However, it seems
that their goal of excellent customer service was higher in importance than teaching their
employees how to communicate in emergency situations, such as the one presented to us in the
case study. It is essential for companies to find a competitive advantage to set themselves apart
from other companies in their industry, however it is also crucial for these companies to find a
balance and continue to value the basic fundamentals of communication.
JETBLUE AIRWAYS CASE STUDY ANALYSIS
JetBlue went from startup company to powerhouse of the sky in 2007 with overall growth
in terms of destination and size. Run by CEO David Neeleman’s expertise and experience in the
industry, the company boasted in customer satisfaction and provided practical and luxury
amenities to all passengers. “Neeleman envisioned treating JetBlue’s customers…to comfy
leather seats, paperless ticketing, and exceptional service by flight crew members” (Argenti,
2009, p.100). Soon after 9/11 JetBlue and airlines worldwide went through mandatory alterations
in order to comply with safety demands and hypersensitive flying customers. In the months
following the horrific event “only three airlines managed to turn a profit…-the low-cost carriers
Southwest, AirTran, and JetBlue” (Argenti, 2009, 100). In the following years the bond between
customer and airline continued to strengthen. JetBlue seemed to be at the top of its career,
ranking “highest in customer satisfaction among low-cost airlines in 2006 and among all major
airlines in the United States in 2005” (Argenti, 2009, p.99). The size and continuity of the
JetBlue brand helped it endure changing markets and adapt to demands set by the industry.
It seemed JetBlue could do no wrong until winter weather conditions got the best of them
on Valentine’s Day 2007. Officials at JetBlue made a false accusation that the winter storm
weather forecast would change. After the break in the storm failed to appear and the company
declined to make cancellations they ended up paying for it in reputation, integrity, and
reimbursement vouchers. With planes backed up from all directions, passengers, luggage and
cargo were stuck for 6-9 hours. Some customers waited to board planes that would soon be
cancelled, while others waited for a take-off that would never happen. JetBlue failed to
effectively communicate the message to the customers. According to Argenti, “Nine of the
airline’s jets sat idle on the tarmac for more than six hours before passengers were successfully
JETBLUE AIRWAYS CASE STUDY ANALYSIS
offloaded and taken to the terminal” (Argenti, 2009, p.101). Things continued to get worse on
the days following this heart breaking system failure.
On February 15, airport personnel had to call police to help control the crowd at Newark
Liberty International Airport....