How JetBlue Got Its Wings Back
For JetBlue, the ice storm of 2007 was a nightmare come true. Thousands of passengers were stranded, many of them locked for hours in planes on runways. How the airline handled the public relations damage, fixed the problems, and rehabilitated its image is a model of disaster control. Here’s what JetBlue did right and what you can learn from their experience.
For JetBlue’s more than 100,000 stranded passengers, the February 14 ice storm of 2007 was the Valentine’s Day Massacre: a bloodbath of endless lines, waiting in airports for days on end, or--even and--being held hostage for as long as ten and a half hours in grounded airplanes. The ice storm hit JetBlue’s operational center, JFK airport, but delays soon spread to all 56 of its destinations. It took six full days to get back to normal. More than 1,000 flights were canceled, in excess of 100,000 passengers were stranded, and 2,500 bags went astray--many of them piling up in a huge mountain at JFK. Media coverage was relentless.
JetBlue, which had soared from its founding to become the nation’s eighth largest airline in just eight years by providing top-flight service as well as low fares, immediately flew into action. Its founding CEO, David Neeleman, flagellated himself on a media tour of mea culpas.
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