Communication lessons from JetBlue

Updated on October 24, 2008

jetbluet5

An airline with a blog, a Twitter account and its employees saying really good things about its new Terminal 5 which opened for business this week?

No, it’s not the T5 you might be thinking of, the one that presented the airport operator and airline with a PR nightmare when it opened to the public last March.

Oh alright, I’ll name names – that was Heathrow T5, BAA and British Airways.

The terminal I’m talking about here is the new T5 at Kennedy Airport in New York, the new home for JetBlue, an airline that is no stranger to negative publicity nor effective communication in times of crisis, especially video like this from CEO David Neeleman.

You could hardly draw greater contrast between two airlines and their different approach to communication.

Of course there are undoubtedly lots of differences between JetBlue and British Airways – geography, operating circumstances, routing, budgets, leadership philosophy, and more.

Yet I’m struck by the refreshing way in which JetBlue goes about its communication using social tools like blogs and Twitter (the New York Times has a good write-up of what they’re doing re T5), contrasting that with the stiff, formal and, well, unimaginative way of British Airways (but with some light in the tunnel).

Even though I’ve been a BA customer for absolute years – and all my forthcoming trips to European destinations in the coming months will be on BA flights – I very much like JetBlue’s informality and approach in how it wants to engage with people.

So much so, in fact, that if they flew over here, I would definitely fly JetBlue!

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Robin Hayes

    Dear Neville,
    All of us at JetBlue enjoyed reading your blog about our Terminal 5 opening on Wednesday. I was there from 4am and with one or two minor snags it was a wonderful day. On behalf of 11,000 crewmembers at JetBlue we thank you for your comments and I would be delighted to have you as a guest on JetBlue should you ever find yourself over in the US. We all come to work everyday to bring humanity back to air travel and T5 is a big step in the right direction. I know a bit about the BA T5 opening as well – as I was working for BA at the time so I must be the only person in the world to go through two T5 openings in the same year. Of course it does mean I don’t get to see the Gooners play so often these days!
    Best wishes,

    Robin Hayes
    Chief Commercial Officer
    JetBlue Airways

  2. neville

    Hi Robin, thanks for dropping in. Appreciate your comments, thanks. The fact that you did visit and comment is another illustration of the communication contrast I mentioned in my post. And you must see contrast if you were involved in Heathrow T5!

    I’ll take you up on that offer when next in the US. Likewise, if there’s anything I can do for you in the UK, just let me know.

  3. Robin Hayes

    Hi Neville,
    It was my pleasure and thank you for your kind offer. I have to admit I have enjoyed visiting your site very much. Please let me know if I can ever be of assistance and thanks again. I mean it very sincerely when I say how pleased we all were at JetBlue with your comments. So many of our crewmembers worked so hard to get T5 right from opening, it makes them feel very proud when that is noticed.
    Robin

  4. neville

    Well, JetBlue crewmembers deserve to be proud of how T5 is going. I’ve not seen any critical commentary anywhere about the terminal as it relates to passenger experiences.

    That contrast again :)

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