And he thought the ice storm was bad….Stuff keeps falling on JetBlue chief Dave Neeleman’s head and he keeps apologising. Perhaps rightly so, after an operational foul up during a snow and ice storm stranded dozens of JetBlue planes on its New York JFK tarmac for as long as 10 hours, outraging 130,000 passengers and getting the airline five days of non-stop negative media coverage. That’s the sort of thing that happens when you’re in the media and television capital of the US, and the home to every major television network, and that’s the sort of thing that happens when you tick off those mild, mellow, ever-tolerant New Yorkers.
So Neeleman, a devoutly sincere fellow, has been apologising ever since. Repeatedly, anywhere and everywhere that will let him, from cable TV to youtube.com, that online arbiter of taste, and in some six million emails, some of which have been sent out repeatedly. Part of Neeleman’s apology consists of a new offer, refunds of about $10 million plus $16 million worth of vouchers to delayed flyers, plus a promise to do better, a promise conveyed in full-page newspaper ads as well as on the TV. You can see one of Neeleman’s apologies here. The crisis, which lasted for several days as JetBlue “pre-cancelled” some 1,200 flights, could cost the airline as much as $30 million this quarter, Neeleman told investors. Listen to Dave talking with investors and analysts in a webcast. JetBlue is also promising something it calls the Passenger Bill of Rights.