“We lost control.”
—David Neeleman, CEO, JetBlue
* Much of JetBlue’s passenger reservations department is comprised of over 1,900 women, many of whom work from home in the Salt Lake City area—basically on their own and unsure how to cope.
* One passenger described the scene at a JetBlue departure gate as disgusting. “The noise was deafening. People were screaming. There were police officers in riot gear. JetBlue employees were crying. There were piles of luggage and no control over what was going on.”
* In all, JetBlue canceled 1000 flights and failed to get back on schedule for nearly a week.
David Neeleman Falls on His Sword.
In the days following the catastrophe, CEO Neeleman was all over the media like a cheap suit—being interviewed by any and all that would have him. In a phone interview, Jeff Bailey of The New York Times wrote that Neeleman, “his voice cracking at times, called himself ‘humiliated and mortified’ by a huge breakdown in the airline’s operations.”
He promised a serious upgrade in JetBlue’s utterly inadequate infrastructure.
“We love our customers and are horrified by this,” Neeleman said in an interview. “There’s going to be a lot of apologies.”
In an attempt to head off congressional debate and a possible bill protecting passengers from airline abuses, Neeleman broke the story or his Passengers’ Bill of Rights on NBC’s Today Show with Matt Lauer. Included would be payments of $25 to $100 on up to free round-trip tickets, depending upon the amount of time spent on the ground in an airplane.
Neeleman promised to retro-compensate aggrieved Valentine’s Day passengers based on the new payment schedule and suggested to an interviewer that it would cost the airline $20- to $30 million.
However, most of the payments are “vouchers”—funny-money scrip—redeemable only as discounts on JetBlue travel.
One paragraph in the company’s Bill of Rights would cause me to swear off JetBlue forever: