JetBlue Fails Their Own Digital Savvy Test

This morning I read about how JetBlue used Twitter to try and test the agencies pitching for their business.   I think it caught my attention as I had a Jet Blue flight booked for later in the day …  Well fast forward a few hours to that time and suddenly I’ve got a reason to reach out to JetBlue about my family’s experience today.  It wasn’t great.

On the way down to Florida, we were booked in 4 seats in row 1 and our last seat in row 18.  Not exactly stellar and something only a computer would do.  We had to actually forfeit the row 18 seat and checked our car seat once on the plane in order to make sure the whole family stayed together.  Traveling with three small kids can be stressful and not being together only amplifies the potential challenge of keeping everyone calm.  JetBlue has said (via the flight attendant) that they’d be looking to reimburse us for the lost seat … I guess we have to wait it out on that one.  I didn’t tweet it, but I’m posting it now.

Today was our return trip and while our seats were booked together, we were in the back of the plane.  Not ideal, but certainly acceptable -being together was the most important detail.  While waiting around for the boarding call, I tried to see if we might move forward a bit (we were booked 2 rows from the back).  I waited patiently and politely and stood quite when a passenger was called up from the back of the line to be helped first.  Her issue was apparently far too complicated and used up any available time for me.  Instead we got a gruff, there are no seats to move around (after the passenger ahead in line moved).  OK …

About 5 minutes later the pre-boarding call was announced and we immediately made our way over to the gate door.  The JetBlue attendant looked at our boarding passes and gave us an earful about not coming over sooner for the pre-board even though she had literally just announced it.  Instead of letting us on the plane, we were asked to stand to the side while other rows for main boarding started.  There were at least 3 other families who also found the same experience and all were surprised to find that there wasn’t a pre-boarding and that we were being scolded for not respecting the call (that had just happened).

I’ve traveled far too much to know getting angry with the person behind the desk never leads to anything good for you, but man the families were livid.  We all have small kids and definitely need more time to get on the plane, deal with car seats unpack etc.  Not today …   My family was cool.  We got on board eventually and I was able to get the car seat belted for my son, but one of the other families ran into an issue and started to get quite nervous about securing their child safely.  Joe (real name) from JetBlue came over to help but got testy with the nervous parent who was certainly pushing to get things resolved.  We heard Joe scold the dad by saying “I don’t come to your office and tell you how to do your job, so don’t tell me how to do mine.”  I can’t help but think that extra time we all wanted during pre-board would have been exactly what we needed right then.

Back to the original tweet test … I tweeted this as it was happening today – twice.  JetBlue?  No comment today … tomorrow won’t matter.  Let’s not forget this social media stuff is a two-way street, JetBlue.  Looking at you, @martysg.  Comcast and Zappos don’t need #sneaky hashtags, they pay attention and respond within a reasonable amount of time – sometimes surprisingly fast.

2 comments for “JetBlue Fails Their Own Digital Savvy Test

  1. 2/19/2010 at 3:18 pm

    Hi Jonathan,

    My name is Morgan Johnston and I manage JetBlue's Twitter account. I hope you'll allow me to address some of your concerns presented here.

    First I want to apologize . We take our commitment to customer service seriously and count caring as one of our core values. The events in PBI as you've described them shouldn't have happened and will be addressed with the team in our West Palm Beach station.

    Secondly, I'd like to take this opportunity to discuss how we manage our Twitter account, and why you may not have received a reply from @JetBlue on Twitter. Crewmembers from several different departments volunteer their time outside their normal duties to help monitor and act upon things seen on Twitter. We see an average of three to four hundred mentions a day and each merits it's own consideration for action and response.

    For a number of mentions, yours included, it's important to recognize that a situation may be affecting more than the individual Tweeting. In those instances it's often of greater utility for us to reach out to the station to advise of what we're hearing, and potentially see resolution in the moment for all the customers involved.

    In addition, your Tweets while certainly of concern to us, did not indicate a request for reply nor outright reference our Twitter account name @JetBlue. We approach replying to such mentions cautiously, as such actions have been seen as overbearing and 'big brother'ish in the past. We might also often look for an opportunity to direct message a user who raises a concern to update them, or gather additional details, but as you weren't following @JetBlue, those direct messages were not possible.

    So while I hope the above will help explain our rationale for not posting a reply to you, I also hope you understand your comments are no less important to us. Customer feedback, both positive and negative helps us to deliver a product and service that we have all come to expect from JetBlue.

    Thank you again for your comments, and I hope your next experience on JetBlue will restore the faith you've placed in us for superior customer service.

    Morgan Johnston
    Corporate Communications
    JetBlue Airways

  2. 2/22/2010 at 8:57 am

    Morgan –

    Thanks for the response!

    I absolutely realize that any travel related issue is likely to impact multiple parties. In fact I noted the other families who also found the PBI experience to be frustrating.

    I don’t actively follow JetBlue on Twitter and did not have the opportunity to look up your handle on my phone in the moment. Instead I chose to use the brand name and a hashtag which I hoped would get through. Clearly social media feedback is not the ideal method for providing input … but it was quick and enabled me to share my thoughts at the time they were happening. I chose to write this post as a follow-up since the day was far more stressful than it needed to be and your marketing team had decided they were savvy publicly and I interpreted that to mean you monitored the brand in a more realtime fashion. I do find it interesting that @jetblue offered no response directly, but do appreciate that you’ve read and responded here.


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