Archive for the ‘Jet Blue’ Category

I came across this blog post by Jonathan Fields today. It provides some insight into how Jet Blue is using Twitter to build stronger relationships with its customers. It’s amazing to see how one individual in a large organization can make such an impact by using a simple tool such as Twitter. What isn’t surprising to me is that Jet Blue would go to these lengths to this level of service.

I’ve always had good experiences with Jet Blue even when things haven’t gone quite right. Back in September, I flew across the country with my 18 month old daughter. When we landed at 10pm, we were disappointed to see that they had broken the handle off her stroller. We notified a person at the gate who apologized and directed us to customer service. At customer service, we were given the option to use one of their brand new stroller or purchase a new one which they would obviously pay for. Since it was so late, we decided to use their stroller and purchase a new one when we got home. Despite how difficult this situation could have been, Jet Blue made it as simple as possible for us by dealing with the problem quickly and efficiently.

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United Airlines doesn’t stand a chance in the new world. They don’t have a clue how to do the little things.

I recently returned from vacation where I flew United from Boston to Honolulu. With the exception of the last leg of my trip, Chicago to Boston, I couldn’t help but feel like everyone that worked there had given up a long time ago. Perhaps I’ve been flying Southwest and Jet Blue too much. But after this trip I’m avoiding United the same way I avoid Delta and US Air and here’s why.

Reason #1

You can’t switch your seat from Economy to Economy Plus even if there are several open seats. On one of my flights, all of the economy seats were completely full while there were completely empty rows in Economy Plus (Economy seating with a couple more inches of leg room). The guy next to me tried to move to one of these empty rows (before even sitting in his assigned seat) and was kicked out by an flight attendant. Apparently, they keep track of what seats should be empty. Now I can kind of see the logic, since I’m sure United wants people to pay more money to sit in these seats and I’m sure they don’t want to upset the higher paying customers. However, if the row is empty and the plane is about to take off, you should be able to spread out and use the empty rows. Futher, if they want to be fair about pricing, then everyone should pay the same price for a seat in a particular section. It’s entirely possible that the guy trying to move from economy to economy plus paid more money for his seat then some people in the more expensive seating section. Where is the fairness there?

Reason #2

If you’re going to charge people for food, you should tell them when they buy the tickets not after they get on an 8 hour flight. I obviously haven’t flow United for a while or else I would have known this. I got on the plane for an 8 hour flight thinking they would actually serve a meal or get this, maybe two meals. Instead, I was treated with the option to buy 1 of 2 meals or 1 of 4 snack boxes for $5. Well I don’t like roast beef and an airline salad is not a meal. I looked through the snack options and decided one of those would get me through until we landed, barely (had I’d of known, I could have purchased a decent meal at one of many places at the Chicago airport). I don’t have a problem with charging for meals but the limited options need to be stated before you get on a plane for 8 hours. Also, I don’t see why there should be a charge for the snack boxes which Southwest and Jet Blue give away for free and basically add up to a bunch of random bags of goodies that are probably given to United for free in exchange for advertising them to their captivated (captured) audience.

Reason #3

My flight from Chicago to Honolulu was manned by flight attendants that gave up on customer service a long time ago. Drinks were served about an hour after take off and the drink cart was not seen again until 45 minutes before landing. In between, you had to get up and serve yourself. And if you had any trash you had to get up and throw it out on your own. I’ve never seen so many people getting up to serve themselves and clean up the plane. If United paid these flight attendants its ridiculous.

Reason #4

United’s system for updating you when your flight time has changed is pathetic. Now I fly enough to know that flight time changes are part of the industry. I didn’t think anything of it when I printed my tickets the night before and saw that the my flights had changed. It was after I got home from vacation and listened to my messages that I noticed one from United. They decided to call me 2 hours after my flight left to tell me that the flight time had changed from 7:45am to 7:00am. Thanks!!

What can United do?

    Look at what Southwest and Jet Blue do to make you feel appreciated and copy it! Better yet, IMPROVE upon it. I like Southwest and Jet Blue but there is plenty of room for improvement in the industry.
    Improve employee morale they’ll pass this new found happiness along to the paying customers. Hire people who want to work at United, know how to put the customer first, and treat people with respect.
    Communicate with your customers. Tell them when the flight times change. Tell them you are charging for meals on an 8 hour flight. They may already know, but if they don’t, they’ll appreciate the notification.
    Find a way to differentiate yourself. Right now, people’s mental model of United is “behemoth airline that lost its way, is losing money, tries to do more with less, and just wants to fill seats”. Why not try to be the “airline that treats people as people and makes a long journey seem like part of the vacation”.
    The most important part, have fun!

There is still hope for United but it’s fading fast. I’m hopeful that someday this airline will turn things around but until that happens, I’ll stick with Southwest and Jet Blue whenever possible.

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