“We lost control.”
—David Neeleman, CEO, JetBlue
I have sat in jet airliners on runways, but never for more than an hour.
The weather outside the cabin may have been clear and sunny, but as the pilot explained over the public address system, no incoming traffic was able to land at the destination airport because of fog or snow.
So we sat—grateful to be safe on the ground—rather than endlessly circling O’Hare or Metro Detroit in soup, waiting for a break in the weather and for the planes ahead of us to land.
In 2006, some 60,000 fully loaded planes, were stuck on the tarmac for one to two hours. Out of 7.1 million flights, only 36 planes were pushed back from the gate and were stuck for more than five hours.
This past Valentine’s Day, nine JetBlue airliners filled with passengers, sat on runways for more than six hours each. The passengers on several of these planes were trapped for more than 10 hours with no water, few snacks, toilets fouled and overflowing, and the cabin so hot and smelly that doors were opened to allow fresh air in.
JetBlue wound up canceling more than 1,000 flights over a period of five days with flight crews stranded all across the country and unable to get in touch with headquarters.
In Inc. Magazine’s 25th Anniversary issue in September 2006, JetBlue’s founder and CEO David Neeleman, was interviewed as one of “America’s 25 most fascinating entrepreneurs.”
Neeleman told the Inc. writer that he was not in the aviation industry. “We’re in the customer service business,” he said.
No, he’s not.
David Neeleman is in the business of being a world-class jerk.
Memories of a Winter Long Ago
My second job out of the Army in 1961 was selling children’s books to bookstores and wholesalers in the non-major cities of the East and Midwest.