Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Jet Blue Fiasco

By now you've all heard about the debacle that last week tarnished JetBlue's formerly stellar reputation indefinitely. Leaving passengers stranded on planes for eleven hours, canceling flights after promising a regular schedule, failing to provide customer service representatives both in person and over the phone: these add up to an unprofitable quarter, a public relations disaster and promises from the CEO that JetBlue will now offer a Bill of Rights guaranteeing passengers compensation when such failures occur. Whether this dramatic--let's hope not merely nominal--response can stop the bleeding remains to be seen.

A recent NY Times article made a good point: under smooth operating conditions, JetBlue's organization worked well. Employing fewer customer service reps than the legacy carriers (most of JetBlue's reps are stay-at-home moms who field calls from the comfort of their living rooms in Salt Lake City--an unconventional arrangement, to say the least. Perhaps the women work in trios; okay, I've been watching too much Big Love), the airline could afford to offer lower prices and more amenities. But in a crisis, this lean system collapsed; the airline had no way, contractually, of making the stay-at-home moms work beyond their shifts, and no company can generate more employees overnight. JetBlue also lacked a system for coordinating scattered crews and summoning employees who were at home or on vacation. This explains the long duration of the airline's cancellations--far after the snow melted and the runways cleared; and far after competitors restored full service. JetBlue gambled and lost. Its management figured the storm would fizzle out and pass quickly, so it canceled no flights in advance. Consequently, it was left with tons of angry passengers crowded in airports believing their flights would leave soon. Of course, they did not, and a crying CEO is but little consolation to a passenger who might have returned to the comfort of her home rather than spending the night, with false hopes, in a dirty airport.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Shuttle Bus Disaster

I'm surprised this story hasn't received more attention. Two people, a passenger and a driver, died yesterday after shuttle buses collided at Fort-Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. It appears one of the buses crossed the center-line and struck the other bus head-on. Fortunately, there weren't many passengers aboard either shuttle. I've always worried about such shuttle buses; particularly crowded ones where passengers are forced to stand, often awkwardly astride their luggage, sometimes pressed against doors, poles or the front windshield.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

...or is this blog dead?

In attempts to jumpstart this forum back to life...

First, snakes on a plane, then scorpions on a squirrels on a plane.

It was reported that an American Airline flight from Tokyo to Dallas was diverted to Honolulu after pilots reported that they heard a rodent skittering above their heads in the cockpit, amidst a field of wires and controls behind the cosmetic paneling. The perpetrator, a squirrel, was later captured. It has yet to be revealed how the animal gained access to the airplane in the first place.

Sounds like a good call to me. Considering the cause of SwissAir Flight 111's crash in Nova Scotia almost 10 years ago, electrical issues and failures are nothing to play around with on commercial airliners.

Perhaps these stories validate a recent dream of mine being trapped with a nest of Black Widow Spiders on a plane...yuck!