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JetBlue CEO Hits YouTube

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In another display reinforcing the idea that JetBlue understands how to communicate in a crisis, CEO David Neeleman has produced a video and had it uploaded to YouTube. Neeleman doesn’t read-in fact, he comes across as very human with a lot of "umms" as he speaks off-the-cuff, probably from a simple outline of things he wanted to cover.

In the video, Neeleman addresses steps JetBlue is taking to ensure the events of last week never happen again. These include

* Ensuring non-airport crew personnal are badged and on standby should they need to get to the airport to help out if they’re needed

* Increasing the number of phone lines to handle reservation changes

* Tripling the size of the group that schedules pilots and flight attendants; the group was overwhelmed during last week’s fiasco

JetBlue also announced its new delayed passenger reimbursement program, which it has made retroactive to February 15 to accommodate everyone who was stuck last week:

* 1-2-hour delay: $25 off a future flight

* 2-4-hour delay: $50 off a future flight

* Delay of six-plus hours: Free round-trip ticket

The only thing keeping JetBlue’s behavior in this crisis from becoming a case study is the remarkable dismissal of the company’s website as a channel for getting this information-and the company’s reaction-to the public. As I noted in my last post on JetBlue, Neeleman’s pseudo-blog (no comments) hasn’t been updated since February 1; it still has a lead item headlined, "2007 Takes Off in the Right Direction." The lastest press release covers the passenger bill of rights, but nothing on the site covers the apology or delivers the same tone of humanity and genuine concern and regret that infuses all the other communications. That’s too bad given what we know about the increased reliance on the web by customers.

Update: A huge hat-tip to Dominic Jones for pointing out that the JetBlue home page is now dominated by a notice that links to a special page set up just to address this issue. It leads with the YouTube video and includes Neeleman’s video apology. Nice work, if a little late. (Remember, we’re functioning these days in the 90-second news cycle.) And the pseudo-blog still hasn’t been updated (or turned into a real blog).

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