Update: The response to this letter was a form email from customer service crediting my account for the leg of the flight. It wasn’t about the money. Sadly they missed the point.
October 7, 2014
Mr. David Barger
27-01 Queens Plaza North
Long Island City, NY 11101
Dear Mr. Barger,
I have been writing this letter in my head for about a year now. I have been a fan of JetBlue since I started flying your airline in 2009 and it’s my airline of choice when I travel. I have a JetBlue Amex, am a Mosaic member and have always sung your praises. That is, until now.
Being the CEO of a company, I know how important it is to stay highly in-touch with my customers and, if something isn’t working right, I want to know about it. I also know how important a brand mission and promise is – to the company, employees and customers. It creates shareholder value. It makes employees love your company. It makes your customers love your company. It is what makes your company unique and sets you apart from the myriad of choices in a crowded, competitive, commoditized market. It is what I do day in and day out for my clients and it is why I am writing you this letter.
JetBlue has lost its brand.
I couldn’t be more disappointed. You above all. ™ Is brilliant. I use it as examples all the time. Clever play on words and puts the customer first. The sad part is that it’s just words and a bunch of fluff and there’s nothing standing behind it.
Was it me above all when you came up with a way to charge people for the exit seats and then made the most confusing program on the planet? Your own people cannot explain what is Even More Space, Even More Speed, sometimes it’s early boarding, sometimes it’s expedited security, other times, not. Depends on the city, ma’am. Huh? Beyond frustrating for business travelers. Call it More. Make it consistent. I will pay. Make it complicated. I will not.
Still I sing your praises. Until last week.
Last Tuesday night, 10/7/14, you delayed my flight by two hours, then decided to leave on time. I have never had this happen to me in 20+ years of travel. Delayed is delayed. The worst part? I was checked in 1.5 hours in advance of my flight. I arrived at JFK by 6:30 for the 8:15 flight JFK to Boston. Got to JFK: Flight delayed. I call my kids, call my boyfriend and decide to go get some food and do some work. I decided to get something to eat at one of the restaurants at JFK. The gate announcements, come to find out, cannot be heard in the restaurants. What? To make me even more infuriate, you have my phone number. No one texted me. You have my phone number. No one called me. You have my email address, no one emailed me. I had the Jetblue app open, no one pinged me. Even my son said, “Mom, why didn’t they text you?!” Beyond me. Nothing, nada until I arrived at the gate to find out – you changed your mind and left.
Never in my 20 years of air travel have I had a flight be delayed by 2 hours and then changed to leave on time. Never. To make matters worse, I had two sick little kids at home who just wanted their mom. I raced from mid-town to JFK to make the flight so I could tuck them in. To make matters even worse, your “Just Ask” desk was “Just Useless.” Sorry, ma’am, sorry sorry. Nothing to make it right. I was literally crying standing in front of them. One of your people actually had the audacity to tell me it was my fault and said he wasn’t sure if I was actually telling the truth that I was there at the airport in advance. Excuse me? So, wait, it’s me above all, right?
Mr. Barger, I am not here to tell you how to run your business. I am here as a fan. Someone who bought into your brand promise “You above all.” Fans don’t come easy these days, especially with the amount of travel I do and the brands clamoring for my business every day. I choose which brands get my loyalty. I choose which brands get my love. Your brand has lost its way. You are now no different than Delta and United and the slew of other choices. When your tag line becomes simply a line of copy under your logo, I say it’s time to take a good, honest look at the experience you offer your customers and fire your agency. They sold you a bill of goods you cannot deliver on. Shame on them. Shame on you.
I believed what your brand told me. I drank the Koolaid. Your people let me down. Your procedures let me down. Your complete lack of customer focus left me exhausted, deflated and defeated as I arrived home at 1am to two little people waiting for me in my bed because you changed your mind and left me behind (along with 5 other people who had also checked in for the flight.) Your brand must mean more than a tagline and a logo, Mr. Barger. Does it?
Michelle A. Heath
Member since Sept 2009
Founder & CEO, Growth Street Marketing
142 Commercial Street Suite 601
Boston MA 02109 USA