3 reasons you should love a customer service meltdown

Marco Prati/Shutterstock
Marco Prati/Shutterstock
Spectacular customer service failures are the grist of my consumer advocacy mill.

But some of the loudest implosions are off limits to me. Like the young blogger who was reportedly booted from a United Airlines flight. His crime? Taking pictures of his seat in apparent violation of the airline’s photography policy.

Even though colleagues urged me to come to his assistance, I couldn’t. He didn’t ask me for help, and I have a strict policy of staying away from cases where I’m not invited.
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“The good guys won!”

Today’s award for most creative definition of an airline cancellation goes to JetBlue Airways. Back in February, after canceling Judith Ganz’ flight from Dulles to Boston — that’s right, canceling — it redefined its action as a “schedule change” in order to pocket her money.

But the airline split hairs with the wrong passenger. Turns out she was uniquely qualified to question JetBlue’s claim.
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JetBlue says customer service “embedded in the core” leads to airline profits

t5A few weeks ago, I asked Michelle Hansen, JetBlue’s director of customer support operations, if I could interview her about customer service issues. She later asked Morgan Johnston, JetBlue’s manager of corporate communications, to field my questions. Here are their answers.

JetBlue is one of only a few domestic airlines that doesn’t charge for the first checked bag. You’ve also gone easy on other fees. I’m a little confused. I thought passenger had embraced a la carte pricing. Why are you holding back, when you could be making more money?

You can’t put a price on customer loyalty and creating a unique travel experience. That’s what we do here at JetBlue by providing amenities we think of as standard and core to your travel experience. We’ve created a value product where our customers can experience 36 channels of DirecTV, 100 channels of XM Radio, unlimited drinks and [without] paying extra. However, should a customer choose to upgrade their experience, for an additional charge, we offer our Even More Legroom seats, first run movies with JetBlue Features, or specialty beverages.

For the majority of our customers, checking a bag is a normal part of their flying experience and one we feel it’s important to protect. Those customers who do request to check more than the one standard checked bag, we will accommodate with an additional fee. In the end, we believe that offering these free amenities will result in greater dividends than if we were to nickel and dime our customers.
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Which airline kept passengers trapped on the tarmac nearly six hours?

blueThat would be JetBlue Airways, according to the latest Transportation Department figures.

Flight 12 from New York to Syracuse was delayed on the tarmac 328 minutes on June 26, which makes it the tarmac delay winner — or perhaps it’s more accurate to say loser — of the month.

The overall number of flights with excessive delays remains small. In June, which is the most recent month for which numbers are available, .0499 percent of scheduled flights had tarmac delays of three hours or more, up from .0064 percent the previous month. There were 42 flights with tarmac delays of four hours or more in June.

Here’s the breakdown:
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JetBlue Airways

http://www.jetblue.com
11829 Queens Blvd
Forest Hills, NY 11375-7212
(718) 286-7900

Customer Relations
PO Box 17435
Salt Lake City, UT 84117-0435
(801) 365-2470

How to get through to an operator: press “0.”

Overview

JetBlue’s customer service reputation trends toward the extremes. It’s either really good, with friendly flight attendants, superior onboard amenities, generous legroom and many other customer-friendly practices. Or it’s really bad (think passengers stranded on the tarmac during an ice storm or grandmothers being threatened with arrest for videotaping other passengers). More often than not, though, JetBlue does right. Hopefully you won’t have to use these names.

If you have a customer complaint, please read this before contacting the company.

Customer service resources

Contract of carriage
Customer bill of rights
Email form

Primary e-mail

(A JetBlue insider notes: “We are all best reached by emailing [email protected] through our email management software.”)

Primary contact

Sharon Evans
Corporate customer support
(801) 993-6726

Debbie Castleton
Corporate customer support
(801) 365-2406

Shauna Seymour (personal injury claims)
Specialist customer support
(801) 365-2493

Jenna Peterson (ADA concerns)
Specialist customer support
(801) 365-2361

Secondary contacts (*)

Michelle Hansen
Director, customer support operations
(801)365-2491

Rob Maruster
Executive vice president and chief operating officer
(718) 286-7900

Chief executive (*)

David Barger
Chief executive officer
(718) 286-7900

What others have to say about JetBlue

Aviation Consumer Protection Division Air Travel Consumer Report
Consumeraffairs.com
Epinions.com

This information has been collected from publicly-available resources and is believed to be accurate at the time of the last update. If any of this information is inaccurate, please

* Executives should only be contacted when your letter or email has not been acknowledged within six to eight weeks.