JetBlue – The Social Airline

Apr 24, 2014
Abraham Villegas

JetBlue - the Social Airline

Social media changes rapidly. In the flip of a switch, marketers could have to abandon their entire strategies with one small change in a platform like the recent Edgerank algorithm alteration or even more recently Twitter’s new layout. With high instability levels in social media, it’s no wonder why many businesses and brands hesitate to dive right into this new medium of communication. However, it’s pretty hard to learn how to swim in the waters if one is still testing the temperature with their toes.

I never really paid much attention to airlines and the possibility of them being online. However when you think about it, airlines really need to market themselves just right if they want people to utilize their flight services. Jet Blue is an airline that I’ve never heard of until I started diving into the social media realm. What we know from Jet Blue is that they went through a very dark period where their customer service was bad and their actual flight services were even worse. On one occasion, the weather was so bad in New York, that Jet Blue experienced delays that went on for days. Ultimately, thousands of flights even had to be cancelled.

At this point, most brands would have thrown in the towel, but Jet Blue decided to not only stand strong, they owned up to their lack of performance. They decided to connect with their customers through Youtube after a Valentine’s day crisis. A heartfelt and apologetic video was made by founder and then-CEO David Neeleman five days after the disaster. Not only was this a bold move by JetBlue, this was an epiphany for Marty St. George, the VP who joined the company in 2006.

What amazed him was how fast they had received feedback, as opposed to traditional marketing methods where a brand can spend millions of dollars before even receiving feedback on how they are doing. In the Youtube video, David Neelman explained how they were going to fix the problem and return to a well standing relationship with their customers. Months after the storm had passed, they joined Twitter. Fast forward some time later to now, they stand strong with over 1.8 million followers, and are considered one of the best brands to follow on social media.

Well by now you’re wondering, what has Jet Blue done to go from an almost failing airline, to one of the most adored brands by customers in the digital space? They’ve focused all of their social media efforts into exemplary customer service. No seriously, they’ve utilized Twitter, WordPress, Youtube, and Facebook to build a deep connection with their customers. In short, they’ve made their social media efforts human, and that’s something that most people can accept.

From lost baggage, to delayed flights, Jetblue has made it their mission to not only serve their customers to the best of their abilities, they’ve also taken the time to explain exactly what is going on. That’s unique, since most companies would simply issue a refund, or give a basic explanation. Jet Blue on the other hand would go into detail as to why they were having trouble locating baggage, or taking off. While customers would still be impatient, they were more sympathetic with Jet Blue because they had taken the time to discuss what was happening, and what they were doing to fix it. The best part – they do this in real time.

They even go beyond the basic flight delay and baggage problems. Whenever someone has a complaint, they are treated like a person first, and a customer second. While this sounds so simple to do, we as marketers and business owners often forget what it’s like to be in the shoes of a distraught or unhappy customer.

On one special but possible occasion a Florida healthcare attorney and huge fan of the NY Jets sent out a tweet to the JetBlue execs stating that he’d love to fly on a “JetGreen” to Newark. Because there was enough time to reroute the plane to Orlando, they picked up an Airbus 320 that was adorned in green and white colors with a logo. Needless to say, the attorney who also happened to have no legs received his wish. Jet Blue wasn’t even aware of the condition, but made a statement saying that while its obvious they could not accomadate every customer that way, they would have done that for anyone. This tactic didn’t cost them much, and resulted in a priceless publicity. That is why JetBlue is rocking social media.

Do you know other brands who are demonstrating exemplary use of social media? Tell us all about it by leaving a comment or tweeting us @BoxlessMedia.

3 Comments. Leave new

Well, to be clear, we had a pretty decent reputation before the operational issues we experienced in February 2007. We’d already been ranked tops in customer satisfaction by J. D. Power and associates two years in a row (and have maintained the title every year since.)

The ice storm in 2007 served as a wake-up call for an aspect of our operational outlook that wasn’t sustainable and needed to be addressed (Now, when mother nature looks like she’s going to play hard ball, we cancel flights, let her win, and start fresh when the weather has passed). The emergence of modern social media around that same time frame gave us an opportunity to share that learning, but it wasn’t a large departure from our existing values.

We’ve always loved a direct relationship with our customers and have always depended on word of mouth to grow our business. Social just gives us a place for our online presence to reflect the same great people and service they’ll encounter when they’re in our airports or on our planes. It may be more publicly visible than what our traveling customers might see, but is no more or less important.

Great service can only succeed if positive expectations are reflected in reality and our service (online and off) has always been a team effort.

Morgan Johnston
JetBlue Social Media Strategist

Jason Baumann
April 24, 2014 3:39 pm

Thanks for the comment, Morgan. This is why you are the leader in social among all airlines. Congrats. Best of luck and keep up the good work.

Jason Baumann
Chief Social Strategist / Boxless Media

Abraham Villegas
April 24, 2014 5:57 pm


Thank you for taking the time to read our blog and respond. We appreciate the clarification and additional insight you have provided us with. We stand behind JetBlue’s values and support everything you are doing in the social media space. I also look forward to the day when I need to book a flight, as your airline services will be the first in my thoughts. Congratulations again!

Abe Villegas
Social Media Strategist


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