JetBlue: Walking the walk

JetBlue: Walking the walk

It’s become a habit for companies in their marketing to acknowledge the state of the economy today.  It’s as if they believe that if they acknowledge that times are tough, then immediately they’ll bond with their customers and all will be well.  Because, you know, customers will get that these companies understand.

There’s more to it that that.

Saying something and backing that up with corporate behavior are two vastly different things.  One costs nothing, the other can get massively expensive, exposes the company to risk, and requires buy-in from a culture level. And that’s where JetBlue walks the walk instead of just paying lip service to a saturated meme.

 jetblue promise

Basically, JetBlue promises that if you lose your job, they will refund your fare.  This is to help customers feel safe when booking flights, as JetBlue noticed customers were waiting longer and longer to book flights:

A spokesman said JetBlue launched the program not because customers were asking for refunds, but because the airline has noticed that passengers are waiting to the last minute to buy tickets, a sign of nervousness about their finances.

The discount carrier said it initially will offer the program for U.S.-originating travel booked between Feb. 1 and June 1, but that could be extended. JetBlue said a low-fare U.K. regional carrier, Flybe, recently announced a similar policy.

JetBlue said that if the person is listed on the itinerary and personally paid for the ticket, he or she can apply for a refund no less than 14 days before the scheduled departure of the outbound flight. Normally, JetBlue tickets are nonrefundable, and passengers are assessed a $100 change fee to use the remaining ticket credit for a new trip.

JetBlue accomplishes two things with this:

  1. Makes its customers feel safe spending money with JetBlue, because there is a safety net.  Unlike other companies out there nickel-and-diming their customers to death, JetBlue is demonstrating that it understands the money is tight, people are apprehensive, and buying behavior can’t be treated as business-as-normal.  JetBlue just doesn’t say it understands, it shows it.
  2. Wins enormous positive word-of-mouth.  Jason Averbook, one of MiPro’s partners and colleagues, said it best when he heard the news: “I will fly JetBlue whenever I can based on reading this.”  Amen.  If a company will actually refund cash to me should I lose my job when technically and legally it has no reason to do so, that’s remarkable.  I’ll give my money all day long to companies who are innovative and brave enough to stand up and do something like this.

Why aren’t tons of companies doing stuff like this?  Because it takes outright commitment to the idea and organizational bravery.  And today, like it or not, most companies are sitting around trying to figure out to hold on to their cash, not disburse it to would-be customers on whom negative personal circumstances fall.

Bravo JetBlue.  And to the other airlines: are you watching this?

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