Monday, February 19, 2007


First, a 7 p.m. update:

Here, in a statement released by JetBlue, is an example of PR crisis management the way it should be done, once you've said you screwed up and said you're sorry:

JetBlue is planning a conference call tomorrow, Tuesday, "announcing details of its customer bill of rights program to provide better information to customers facing delays; more tools and resources for crew members, and better procedures for handling operations disruptions."

Attn other airlines: That's called getting ahead of a problem.

Meanwhile, just for the record, and just to show that JetBlue was not the only airline with a fiasco on its hands that day (just the one most upfront about telling the truth), are some of the statistics for air travel last Wednesday, Feb. 14, for major airlines with the worst performance that day. They're from a great source of airline performance data,

JetBlue -- Total flights scheduled: 523

Flights cancelled: 362

Cancellations at JFK: 139 out of 157 scheduled

Cancellations at Boston: 40 out of 53 scheduled.


US Airways: -- Total flight scheduled 1,309. Cancelled, 377

Cancellations at Boston: 50 out of 61 scheduled

Cancellations at Philadelphia: 70 out of 166 scheduled

Cancellations at DCA: 60 out of 61 scheduled


American Airlines: Total flights scheduled: 2,274. Cancelled: 388

Cancellations at LaGuardia: 52 out of 64 scheduled

Cancellations at JFK: 50 out of 61


Delta: Total flights scheduled: 1,539. Cancelled: 182.

Cancellations at JFK" 23 out of 58

Cancellations at Boston: 38 out of 50.


Also, during the similar American Airlines fiasco in Texas on Dec. 29, I now know of at least four planes that sat on ramps in Austin, San Antonio and Tulsa for over eight hours with passengers unable to get off. Of 121 American Airlines planes diverted from Dallas by thunderstorms that day, 67 were stopped on ramps with passengers unable to get off for three or more hours.


Reasons for these events:

F.A.A. is a mess.

Domestic system has slashed capacity, with no slack in schedules. A cancelled flight means an airplane isn't in position for its next use.

The number of airline workers is down 25 percent since 2000, while domestic airline passengers traffic is at all-time level -- more than 700 million passengers expected this year.

Airline middle management and operations and counter workers have been beaten into submission and are afraid to make sensible calls -- say, when it's clear that passengers confined for long hours to stinky planes with fouled toilets are being subjected to cruel and ununsual punishment, and need to be gotten off.

Fear that using wheeled stairways to offload passengers can lead to liability, especially in bad weather.

Passenger expectation that you can run a system at virtually loss-leader prices and still handle the unexpected.


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