Come Fly the Friendly (ahem) Skies

I recently booked tickets for my family to escape the frigidity of never-ending winter in beautiful New England.

Image courtesy of PlanetWare

Traveling with a three-year-old and a one-year-old, of course we want to fly non-stop. Two airlines offer non-stops between Boston and our destination in the Sunshine State – JetBlue and AirTran. Online booking is supposed to be easy, but it always takes me at least an hour to compare all the options and flight times and go through the booking process. I actually find myself missing the days when I could just call the airline and talk to someone without paying an extra fee.

All that aside, the cheapest (really not an appropriate word here since there’s no such thing as a cheap flight to Florida in March) flight I could find was on AirTran. There I was, ready to push the button to purchase, and I thought maybe I should just ask Adam to check it before spending thousands of dollars – just to make sure I had the dates and everything right.

“Why are we going on AirTran? Isn’t there anything on JetBlue?” he asked.

And the search began again. After another hour had passed, he confirmed that the flight I found was indeed the best one, and we resigned ourselves to flying on AirTran.

Why would we prefer to fly on JetBlue? Flying with JetBlue is a great experience – leather seats, TVs, friendly flight attendants, on-time flights, more leg room (key for a toddler with busy feet)…the list goes on. We’ve never had a bad experience on JetBlue, and I certainly can’t say the same thing about any other airline.

I Googled JetBlue, and the first three pages of results were all positive, with the exception of a few links to articles about an emergency landing and a flaming aircraft. No customer complaints, no negative blogs, no anti-JetBlue pages. Instead, the links include answers to customer questions like: Can I bring my surfboard? Can I fly with my parakeet? They include a link to JetBlue on Twitter, a link to a YouTube video in which JetBlue’s CEO conveys “Our promise to you,” a few positive media articles and some financial pieces.

In 2000, JetBlue launched with the aim of “bringing humanity back to air travel.” While its low-priced tickets are harder to get (you can still get low fares if you book when tickets first go on sale or fly at off times), it still has a strong following and, as airlines go, a pretty good reputation. What is JetBlue doing right? Communicating – openly, consistently and through every channel available. JetBlue works hard to maintain the reputation it has built, and its reputation reflects that.

Fast forward a few weeks. I have the opportunity to interact book tickets for another trip on a different airline. I had trouble booking seats online, so I tried to call and was greeted by a recording that said they were experiencing long wait times due to the storm in the Northeast, but thank you for your patience…a few seconds later I was disconnected. And the same thing happened the second, third and fourth time I called. So, I resorted to sending an e-mail, to which I received a response back stating that they would “do their best to respond to my inquiry” but could make no promises due to the volume of e-mails they receive (no joke). I finally received a response a week later.

Customer service has become a rarity in the airline industry, leaving an opening for an airline to make that its hallmark, and JetBlue’s doing a pretty good job of it. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how would you rate JetBlue compared to other carriers?

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