Monday, May 5, 2008

Watching a Train Wreck


It's hard to watch a friend make poor decisions and take themselves down a self-destructive road. You watch the train wreck thinking "If you had only LISTENED to me! You FOOL! You could have been so much more!" Which happens to be the exact words I yelled at my computer screen last night while trying to re-schedule a flight on JetBlue.

Oh JetBlue, how you have fallen! When the genius David Neelman was your CEO you were the end all be all of airlines in my eyes. Now, with out the man genius at your head, the company has made a series of fatal business decisions which has made your stock tank and has turned loyal fans into hardened critics. Jetblue has evolved from the low cost airline focused on customer experience, to an airline that feels entitled to nickel and dime it's customers because it has direct tv and leather seats. Jetblue has turned me from a dedicated customer into a trueblue hater. The main source of my current discontent- $100 change fee. You book your flight yesterday for $109. Today you realize that you booked the wrong time and try change your flight to the earlier one which costs $99- and Jetblue charges you $100 to make the change. You would actually save a dollar by purchasing a second ticket.

The problem with loving a friend or a company is that when it betrays you- you aren't just ticked off you become angry. I don't just dislike JetBlue, I now hate JetBlue- from supporting the DailyKos conference to charging extra for the exit row seats. This company I once loved is now on my "companies that suck list" right behind Delta. It's hard to see a company with so much potential slowly self-destruct.

However let me continue to pimp Southwest- yes their boarding procedures are annoying, and their flight attendants think themselves cleaver lounge singers, but here are the reasons Southwest Airlines is going to be the last airline standing.

1- No change fees. If you're running late for your flight and want to post pone it, you can call in change your flight and only pay the difference in the cost of the plane ticket if there is any difference.

2- Ticket Prices don't change the closer you get to take-off. Their ticket prices are solid, they don't change depending on a date so if you need to book a last minute flight you can at the same price you would have paid 2 weeks ago.

3- You can fly stand-by at no additional charge. You get to the airport early, see there is an earlier flight and can get on that plane for no additional fee. If they have an empty seat they'll put you in it.

4- Best Frequent Flier Program around- 8 round trips and you get a free ticket. How easy is that? No miles to calculate and keep track of. You fly to Reno and back 8 times you get a ticket to anywhere in the US. It's pretty awesome.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Looking at Southwest, Delta and JetBlue I agree with some of what you are saying. I have a question for you. What do you suggest an airline do faced with rising fuel costs?

My objection would be in your perception of what JetBlue is doing. Southwest has a very good business model for what they do. They are cheap, they hedge their fuel and they have done a very good job of planning for the high fuel prices. Southwest is the original low cost carrier. No excess, no frills just a mostly comfortable seat on a plane to get you from point A to B. Bring your own entertainment, food and and suck up your knees you are all set.

Delta has older and less fuel efficient planes to fly. They are the epitome of elitism, or so they think. They cater to the business traveler and bank on the fact that they are well established and have customers who are fixated on their frequent flier program. People will fly them just to keep earning awards.

Both Southwest and Delta have management that is resistant to change. They have always done things this way and that is the way they will always do them. In some cases it works for them in others it does not.

Now JetBlue. They are the new kid on the block. Their business model is young and in some cases untested such as last February demonstrated. JetBlue is not changing because David Neeleman left but because it must to keep flying. Fuel is rising faster than they can raise fares. As an example, fuel may have cost $5000 to fly coast to coast a couple of years ago. If you have a flight 75% full, you need an average fare of $44 to cover the cost of fuel. Today that same flight may cost $15,000 in fuel. Now you need an average fare of $133 to cover the cost of fuel. With competition you can't just raise your fares and certainly not as fast as fuel prices are rising.

I hate fees. I hate them in my phone bill as an example, I hate more than anything to think I have paid a price for something only to find out that I now have to pay more. Like you I would be more inclined to fly Southwest. But there are those who want and enjoy the extras that JetBlue provides.

JetBlue is not a low cost carrier. 9 times out of 10 Southwest will beat them on price. JetBlue does have more amenities than any other airline, FREE TV, up to 38" of leg room, new planes and in many cases Crewmembers who will go out of their way to make your flight the best experience it can be. You should read some of the stories.

Really it depends what is most important to you. The cheap ride to where you are going, your frequent flier miles or comfort. Those are the real the differences.

JetBlue is still learning and at the same time doing all they can to continue flying. There are many discussions at JetBlue about what fares and fees to charge. These are not pleasant discussions and decisions are not made quickly. Given all things, they make the best decision available. JetBlue takes customer satisfaction seriously. They survey nearly 1/3 of every flight. They accept and answer all emails sent from the website within 24 hours. They use the Net Promoter Score to measure what is most important to the customer (on time arrivals).

I hope my response gives you some insight into why JetBlue makes the decisions they do. I work for JetBlue and specifically deal with customer comments, complaints and compliments. Customer satisfaction is a personal passion of mine and I am glad I came across your blog. You can be assured that all complaints sent to JetBlue are read, categorized and reported on each week.

Finally, these are my own personal comments and I have not been sent here by JetBlue nor am I authorized to make any official statement for them.

Regards.

Steve said...

I'm pretty sure that Hell is an endless airline trip where you just get off at one airport only to have to recheck your luggage and reboard!

I've always wanted to fly Southwest but they never go where I want to!

Allie said...

I've only flown southwest with young children- and boarding with young children is pretty nice- they bump you to the front of the line no matter what letter is on your boarding pass.

Salt H2O said...

Anon-

I appreciate your comments and insight. My feelings are if fuel prices go up change the price of the ticket or at least be very very upfront when purchasing the ticket that if you would like to change it will cost you more than purchasing a second ticket. A pop up box at the end saying "I realize that if I change this ticket I will pay a change fee of $100"

As someone who flies every week and makes a great deal of changes to her flights- getting hit with a huge fee when I need to make a small change will stop me flying the airline forever- which is why I never fly delta.

Anonymous said...

Salt h2o -

I could not agree more. The fees should be clear even though they may not be read, they should be moved from the small type to the large type.

If I had things my way... but then a lot of things would be different. For instance, there would be no more "We are thankful we live in UT" prayers! LOL. great blog.

Britt said...

Kory I told you never to go over to the dark side....lol Glad you found your way back to Southwest Airlines. I will tell Brock to kiss the plane for you!

Tim&Kirst said...

Kory--it's your fellow church mate here. Thought I would take a gander at your blog and see what type of trouble you are stirring up. :) I couldn't agree with you more about Delta and Jetblue. The only nice thing about Delta is that they have one-way flights to Hawaii.

I hope you don't mind me checking in from time to time. I'm adding you to my blog. It's official--we're friends! :)

crazy4danes said...

I can't imagine your frustration...especially since you fly SO MUCH!!!! For us lame people that only fly once or twice a year, I really just want a comfortable and reasonably priced flight...I don't care who it is!

I am sorry for your loss...it's always tough losing your friends!!! I'm glad you have Southwest to be there for you. :)

Rudie can't fail said...

@Allie -

They have changed their policy, and no longer let families with small kids board first. They are now between A and B. Apparently there was a fair amount of abuse of the old policy with a lot of 5'5" 4 year olds. Full controversy with comments here: http://consumerist.com/consumer/backlash/parents-predictably-outraged-at-southwests-new-boarding-policy-312455.php

I personally avoid Southwest because I hate their boarding process. I'd rather fly with angry business people than 130 Midwesterners on a trip to Epcot center. Unless you book 6 months in advance, I usually find equivalent prices on the other major carriers.

Sherpa said...

Um, yeah- Southwest really "rocks."

No thanks.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89328997

Della Hill said...

H2O-
Did you hear about the guy who is sueing Jet Blue because they made him sit on the toilet in the plane bathroom for 3 hours during a flight?
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080513/ap_on_fe_st/jetblue_lawsuit
Talk about customer service!
-Della