“We lost control.”
—David Neeleman, CEO, JetBlue
* An aside to illustrate the sleaziness of JetBlue’s business practices is this Oct. 26, 2006 story from The Wall Street Journal:
Last year, thousands of JetBlue Airways passengers became unwitting participants in a highly unusual test of pilot fatigue. Without seeking approval from Federal Aviation Administration headquarters, consultants for JetBlue outfitted a small number of pilots with devices to measure alertness. Operating on a green light from lower-level FAA officials, management assigned the crews to work longer shifts in the cockpit—as many as 10 to 11 hours a day—than the eight hours the government allows. Their hope: Showing that pilots could safely fly far longer without exhibiting ill effects from fatigue. The results of the test haven’t yet been made public—they are expected to be published by the end of the year—and JetBlue executives say even they don’t know the findings. But the experiment has landed JetBlue in hot water while fueling a fierce debate within the airline industry about how long pilots should be allowed to stay at the controls.
* Finally, JetBlue canceled half of its 279 regularly scheduled Valentine’s Day flights, which meant that a significant percentage of its aircraft and 1000 flight crews were scattered across the country. The department that locates and schedules pilots and flight attendants was woefully understaffed.
* “We had so many people in the company who wanted to help who weren’t trained to help,” CEO Neeleman told The New York Times. “We had an emergency control center full of people who didn’t know what to do. I had flight attendants sitting in hotel rooms for three days who couldn’t get ahold of us. I had pilots e-mailing me saying, ‘I’m available, what do I do?’”
* The New York and New Jersey Port Authority, which operates Kennedy Airport—JetBlue’s main hub—has busses and staff at the ready 24/7 to deal with emergencies. Yet JetBlue management failed to call for help until mid-afternoon—even though these fully loaded planes had been stuck on runways since early morning.