Instant Feedback – Part 2

More panel responses to the May 07 article “Lessons From the Tarmac.”


“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” – The Wizard of Oz


How nice to hear from a CEO who doesn’t seem to feel the need to appear omnipotent. The question is, will people reward his openness? Considering how we’ve become wearily accustomed to poor service from airlines, I think we will. We all know about the problems, but we don’t usually hear airline execs admit the obvious.

Nathan Gilliatt
Social Target LLC
Apex,North Carolina

A day or so after the incident, we had CNBC on in the office. Mr. Neeleman came on to talk with Maria Bartiromo to address the situation. It was the first I had heard of the mess, and I understood the frustrations of those involved. However, as Mr. Salter has observed, I also noticed that Neeleman was there, in the spotlight, under negative circumstances. I’ll give JetBlue a shot next time I fly. My only advice is to crack open that satellite radio (XM I assume, as it is carried on JetBlue) and put on some Channel 77 AudioVisions!

Russell W. Hooper

Absolutely did the right thing. Taking responsibility, accepting liability, and apologizing is a great leap forward in protecting the brand. And future business.

Terry Keller
San Diego, California


Absolutely the right thing. Each mistake or issue is situational but big blunders necessitate highly visible and conservative (i.e. customer oriented) responses. While their brand was certainly impacted, JetBlue’s response can strengthen their brand through demonstrating caring and appropriate corrective actions followed by execution.

Bryan Babcock
Gilbert, Arizona

Absolutely, I think that David Neeleman did the right thing! Everyone, every company makes mistakes. I have worked in customer service for 25 years. The most important aspects to dealing with a mistake: apologize, take responsibility and then take action to fix it and prevent it in the happen. For real – not just for appearances.

Jet Blue has an enormous opportunity to create an even more loyal customer base if it follows through with its intentions to have both a belt and suspenders to keep their pants up.

Michele Melkerson-Granryd
BodyBusiness Health Club & Spa
Austin , Texas

Absolutely did the right thing. I even used this example in a course I teach on marketing and user behavior. The brand is under test and will not be damaged if it continues doing what it said it will do..


Julie Levitt
Raleigh , North Carolina

All of this coverage on JetBlue’s debacle will only help the brand. Neeleman’s passion drips from this story and his credibility is articulated. I’ve never flown JetBlue…but I will soon knowing how he reacts to a crisis.

Rich Carr
Carr Knowledge
Orting , Washington

Almost a perfect response. It could have been a perfect response if Jet Blue had managed to push out the email to passengers as well. People will put up with anything if you tell them what is going on and what you are doing about it.

Scott Walters
Nemo , Texas

Although reassuring, this is really not surprising.


Theresa Quintanilla
Houston, Texas

Although the human consequences in the JetBlue situation are far less serious than those in the Johnson & Johnson Tylenol case of several years ago, there are parallels in the response of these corporate leaders. The fundamental principle appears to be make it right. Accordingly, I predict that long term JetBlue’s brand may even shine more brightly than it did before the storm.

Marianne Inman
Central Methodist University
Fayette, Missouri

Anyone who will not forgive Jetblue doesn’t fly very much. Zero customer service is the standard for the industry. A industry that turned flying into Greyhound in the sky. Bravo for the apology, and I wish Jetblue flew into Little Rock, because I would use them.

Robert Clayton
Little Rock, Arkansas

Apology not only accepted, Neelman’s awesomely fast improvement plan is approved. Beyond his good instincts about what to do and say; Neelman was impressively quick in developing more of the benchmark policies and behaviors customers have come to respect and expect in JetBlue.


Karen Justice
The PowerHouse
Sabillasville , Maryland

As a business traveler, I can commiserate with those passengers who went through these ordeals…however, kudos to Neeleman for not hiding behind his managers or employees but being out front on the firing line when dealing with these customers. Doesn’t the traveling public wish more airline CEOs had the guts to do the same?

Mike Williams
Idaho Falls, Idaho

As a frequent traveler, I fear days like the ones JetBlue suffered in February. Nothing sets my teeth on edge like the prospect of being stranded for hours in an airplane. The lack of basic services — not to mention information — make such events unendurable. That said, it seems to me that David Neeleman nailed it. He connected with his customers’ experiences, apologized, and is committed to fixing the problems. I don’t live in a JetBlue area; if I did, I wouldn’t hesitate to fly them again.

Tim Long
Atlanta, Georgia

As a human resource consultant who has been stranded by almost every airline at some point, it is refreshing to have the CEO apologize for doing so. And even more so for him to say we are learning from our mistakes. Now, if only, 10,000 other CEO’s will follow suit.


John Beane
Leland, North Carolina

As a long-time PR and crisis management counselor, I can tell you Neeleman did the right thing — he was in the public eye, accepted responsibility, offered solutions not excuses. While the brand is damaged, Neeleman’s efforts are a strong start towards effective recovery.

Sally Behringer
Nicholson Kovac, Inc.
Kansas City, Missouri

As more time passes, the emotional sting which the JetBlue brand suffered will also pass if they continue to be more proactive. Perhaps they might consider moving their JFK hub to a different Northeastern location in order to remove the localized sting. This would be a great time for JetBlue to study best of breed airline practices to overhaul the entire JetBlue experience such as making flying more fun like Virgin has done by adding lounges and/or healthy food items and free beer and wine like Alaska Airlines.

How about creating a double decker airline to give everyone in coach more leg room?

How about free HBO or Showtime?


George Halo
Professional Media Group
Cranford ,New Jersey

At the beginning, I was confused with David Neeleman’s abrupt behavior. I understand he is tired of discussing JetBlue’s reaction to the February issue. The nagging question for me was, Why is Neeleman not taking this golden opportunity to apologize again, speak of what went wrong, and elaborate on how they have changed JetBlue’s internal systems to make sure that they will react to a problem in a more humane and efficient manner. JetBlue’s behavior during the event seemed very much like Neeleman’s behavior with this author. Obviously he recovered from his irritation and spoke of the changes

David Gutzwiller
Rancho Santa Fe, California

Because it happened, the brand is damaged. Perhaps only tarnished, but unquestionably now under a question mark for the next big event. Nothing he can do makes that go away. But, it happened, and he did the best you could do in response with the bill of rights. Anything else might have faded into obscurity, but the bill of rights is visionary and much needed in today’s jet travel.

Richard Prest
Emerald Hills, California

Because Mr. Neeleman immediately admitted the wrongs and publicly building the plan to fix them, he has changed the focus of public attention. We aren’t discussing how JetBlue is like all the other airlines that don’t identify their customers as people, only as income. We are discussing how JetBlue is different: developing new ideas instead of quick fixes, working with customers and continuously seeking to improve their service. I believe consumers are starving for honesty and trustworthiness. It is obvious Mr. Neeleman is connecting with both his employees, and his customers. JetBlue gained more ground than it lost in February.


Valerie Noll, CPLP
Crew Training International, Inc.
Bellevue, Nebraska

Cancellations happen. Delays happen. Keeping people stranded on planes for 10 hours should NEVER happen. Yes, JetBlue’s brand has been damaged. But, Neeleman took preemptive steps immediately to start healing that damage. If JetBlue slows its growth while fixing its problems, it will recover nicely and once again be the darling of the airline industry.

Mike Levy
Cary, North Carolina

Confession of sins is good for the soul. An up front presence by the Chief is good for the reputation of the firm as well as for employee morale. Too much of it or another high visibility event can be fatal. The key is to take your licking in public (as you deserve) and move on.

Reputation is the sum of a series of trust deposits resulting from the behavior of the firm as described by Steve Covey; one withdrawal, even a major one like this may draw the account down but is not likely to bankrupt.

John Rollins
Industry, Texas


Crisis is the unexpected. The article is relevant, but I only see a finger pointed at JetBlue. How did the Airport react? I think you can point fingers at one company, but working with crisis everyday there is a long line of decisions that impact how you can respond. I feel the Brand Management of JetBlue has been protected by addressing vs. pretending it didn’t happen. Although, I wasn’t someone stuck on a plane for 11 hours!

Rick Olson
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Customer loyalty, the intangible asset that can truly sustain a company. Others may desire it, and some may try to measure it, but only the most human of companies will actually achieve it. We all know when it’s fake. Neeleman, and JetBlue, should weather the storm just fine. He’s human and customers know it.

Valerie Ann Leduc
Burrillville, Rhode Island

David Neeleman absolutely did the right thing by appearing publicly and apologizing. The Event has damaged JetBlue’s brand, but the extraordinary response is what will bring JetBlue back and better than ever.

Steve Monte
Community Solutions
San Jose, California


David Neeleman certainly did the right thing for taking responsibility for the problems. Refreshing to see a CEO do that. The brand has been damaged slightly, but will most likely recover and prosper with its corrective measures. It will certainly be an airline I check first when I need to fly.

Mike Marrone
Niagara Falls, New York

David Neeleman did all the right things. In this day of questionable, poor, or sloppy customer service, it was refreshing to see the CEO stand up and show the pain he felt. I hope that every industry follows this story and learns from the lessons that David shares as he continues the journey we call customer service. Service is truly the backbone of every organization, private and public.

Corpus Christi, Texas

David Neeleman did the right thing in how he responded in the immediate aftermath of the Valentine’s Day debacle. Experience is a tough teacher, presenting the test first and then the lesson. Neeleman, based on what your article describes, has proven himself to be a star pupil. The customer bill of rights deserves special mention as both a seminal and welcome advancement for the airlines industry. JetBlue may have been shaken by the Valentine’s Day debacle, but, thanks to the visionary and positive actions undertaken by Neeleman, not shattered.

Robert Cullen
Baltimore, Maryland


David Neeleman did the right thing. What was the right thing? It wasn’t the apology nor admitting fault. It was connecting with his customers. He pushed to make it right and developed a bill of rights for his customers. He put himself in their place and didn’t like what happened. So he became proactive to prevent it in the future. Connection was the right action.

Too often people try to control a crisis rather than survive and learn from a crisis. To survive such a crisis you need to have crisis leadership in place. What is that? Organizations that handle crisis well have trained all their people down to the ones in the trenches to make the right decisions. David should not have had to go sleepless for days to handle this mess. His people should have been trained to do so. (Much better prepared next time.)

He did the right thing in learning from the crisis and immediately putting actions into place so his personnel can handle such an event in the future. He may be apologizing for the inconvenience but he accepting the responsibility to change so it won’t happen again.

Too many companies apologize and do nothing. JetBlue is apologizing and working to avoid it in the future. A big difference.

Phil Clark
Clark & Associates
Lees Summit, Missouri

David Neeleman did the right thing. He does what his gut tells him to do. He reacted to the crisis in a caring manner. That’s all the public wants to see. They want to see that JetBlue still cares about the customer before, during and after a crisis.


Jack Scalfani
GiveMe Foods
Buena Park, California

David Neeleman did the right thing. In the long run the storm may have helped JetBlue. He certainly got a lot of attention from the press regarding how he is responding to the problems which may increase ridership in the long run.

Margot Kaplan
Chicago, Illinois

David Neeleman did the right thing. My thoughts, as the events were happening, were much as he expresses. Here in the brick and mortar business, you can be a Tiffany’s, Starbuck’s, any number of corporate entities and easily evade when adverse situations arise. But, Exceptional Concepts (my company, coming out of a nasty lawsuit, levied by a greedy and fraudulent property owner) or any one of thousands of small businesses across our nation, usually cannot overcome any negative overtones concerning direct public relations. My business did not survive; I hope JetBlue fairs better.

JetBlue is as corporate to me as United and American are to them. Personally, I don’t think JetBlue’s brand has been damaged. I think human frustration came into play and reaction followed. In time they will realize JetBlue did the best they could under the circumstances.

Linda Blaylock
Exceptional Concepts
Cottontown, Tennessee

David Neeleman responded to this crisis with the same character that he used to build the company, honesty and a focus on the customer. His stress level is indicative of his commitment to improve his company and reduce the likelihood that they will drop the ball again.

Tonya Heim
Holland, Indiana

David Neeleman was effective in using the window of opportunity to accept complete responsibility for JetBlue’s failure in delivering the service and compassion customers expect. He aggressively acted to implement solutions to address the immediate problems as well as a plan for future incidents.

John Thomas
Jonesboro, Georgia

David Neeleman would have done the right thing if he had stepped into the crisis a lot sooner. He isn’t going to fix the problems — his employees are. St. David needs to realize that he’s built something that’s lot bigger than he is, and he isn’t going to fix it alone.

Lois Kurowski
Lansing, Michigan

David Neelman demonstrated the kind of courage that we need more of in the business world. It’s easier to pretend it wasn’t your fault than to get out and face the music. Hats off to David.

Sid Djerfi
London, UK

Did David Neeleman do the right thing? It’s always right to admit to mistakes and apologize – it shows integrity of character. Has JetBlue’s brand been damaged? It depends on how well the company follows through on their apologies and proposed solutions. If they can do what they say they will, they will probably emerge stronger than they were before the meltdown.

April Kunzelman
FatWallet, Inc.
Machesney Park, Illinois

Excellent, excellent, excellent — the article and JetBlue and not just handling the crisis at hand but a strong reputation with its customers.

I’m in the public relations business and wish more companies had the strong customer orientation that obviously JetBlue has.

There’s truth in advertising and then there’s just plain old ‘truth’ – honesty – communicate with your customers honestly and they’ll believe you – and stick with you through thick and thin.

What to do? I’ve faced similar situations and flexibility was the answer. You have to be able to adapt to the challenges that you are presented with. Lemons=lemonade!

John Donaldson
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Fascinating to see how different Jet Blue’s response from what we’ve come to expect from a CEO. Three cheers for an honest attempt to ask for forgiveness. And now we watch to see what happens.

Mark Howell
Duarte, California

Finally, an executive of a major corporation who gets it! We don’t expect perfection; we all mess up from time to time. What we do expect is some two-way compassion. I feel bad for the company and its employees, but I really feel bad for the passengers who were stranded. Mr. Neeleman didn’t play the poor me card, he just apologized, made restitution and promised to do better. I believe him.

Steve North
Madison Christian Church
Pickerington, Ohio

From a staff (vs. mgmt) perspective, David Neeleman did the right thing in taking ownership of the problem and the direction(s) in solving it, even though he can’t be blamed for the weather any more than the next person. It’s a chink in their brand’s armor, but nothing that they can’t recover (and come back stronger) from.

William Moulthrop
Shawnee, Kansas

Great article! It’s unfortunate that I don’t live in a market served by Jet Blue because if I did they would become my airline of choice.

Bob Schechter
Greensboro, North Carolina

Great companies accept failure, provided mistakes are not repeated. Being innovative means you won’t always get it right the first time. I suspect that JetBlue will be better prepared than other airlines for any future crisis as they have failed forward.

Kenneth Peach
Future Vision Group LLC
Orlando, Florida

Has JetBlue’s brand been damaged? Yes.

Can it be repaired? Yes.

Can shooting straight with your customers work? Yes, it’s the ONLY thing that will work.

That’s why David Needleman and JetBlue will continue to survive and excel.

He’s not afraid to admit they made a mistake and he’s publicly committed to fix it unlike Delta or American.

Remember how J&J handled Tylenol.

Tom Smith
FMI Corporation
Raleigh, North Carolina

Has the brand been damaged: yes.

Has the brand been strengthened might be the better question, and the answer to this is clearly yes.

Mistakes are what make brands great – they test the boundaries, challenge the paradigms, and move them in new directions

Ann Stone
Minneapolis, Minnesota

He did exactly the right thing. When you and/or your company screw up, admit it and go on.

PaulVan Valkenburg
Bonita Springs, Florida

He did the right thing. Standing up and taking responsibility for problems is what consumers look for. Short term they stumbled but they will recover and be stronger. What a boring article.

Scott Bryan
Fort Morgan, Co., Colorado

Humans makes mistakes. The key components of surviving them are that they not be intentionally made, that they are acknowledged, corrected and used for future growth and never repeated. Integrity is the paramount, it worked for Tylenol.

Dee Ptak
Stockton, California

I am a little surprised that Mr. Neeleman appeared to be so defensive. All companies make mistakes and the difference between an average company and a great company is how the mistake is handled. I suggest that JetBlue focus on the passengers inconvenienced, the rest will take care of itself -forget about the negative buzz, it is short-lived.

Jeff Stout
Flambeau, Inc.
Baraboo, Wisconsin

I am sure there was a point when someone at JetBlue’s operations said, Maybe this is wrong. The moment that they quit placing the customer first they were damaged. They failed to continue their marketing and service creativity and search for an alternative to ten hours in a tin can. It is nice to see that they are in a learning mode…However, this will happen again and their response will ensure the airlines success.

Michael Baker
Tulsa, Oklahoma

I applaud Neeleman’s initiative.

Ken Saunders
Helmets R Us
Tacoma, Washington

I appreciate David Neeleman’s candor. His approach to the Valentine’s day problems in New York make me just as likely to fly Jet Blue as before. It’s refreshing to find a CEO with such a hand’s on approach to his company.

Thomas Harmon
Cheverly, Maryland

I believe David Neeleman did the right thing by admitting fault and apologizing. I have always been told that you must take responsibility for your actions.

He had no control over the weather; however, he does have control over JetBlue and realized and took the responsibility that he did not have a contingency plan in effect for unforeseen weather.

Greg Drown
Fremont, Ohio

I believe Neeleman has done the right thing. It’s obvious that he is only human; he probably shouldn’t have taken the interview when he appeared to be over the edge.

Susan Green
Athens, Georgia

I believe that he played the cards he was dealt – not always the easiest thing to do – The fallout from the crisis will test not only himself but his staff – and only time will tell if he was able to convince the public to continue to fly his airlines. The best part of the whole story is that he appears to admit responsibility!

Layne Hansen
Naches, Washington

I believe that Neeleman did the right thing. This article shows the depth of his concern and the impact on him personally which other airline CEOs would likely not feel or share with an external party. Jet Blue’s brand has been damaged but the company has made strong efforts to repair the damage.

Kevin Kilroy
Basking Ridge, New Jersey

I don’t think he took enough personal blame, to the external media and public. If the systems weren’t built, that’s his fault and he should be thinking about stepping down or turning over operations to someone else while he continues promoting the vision and handing out snacks.

The brand is absolutely damaged, perhaps to reflect the real core culture of disempowerment. It doesn’t take a genius to see that the employees didn’t feel authorized to take common sense actions and that management wasn’t tapped in to what was happening, a key in a continually operating business like JB.

Brian Cassell
Annapolis, Maryland

I don’t think the brand has been damaged. I was not one of the people stranded, but I fly JetBlue often, and I will continue to do so. I think Neeleman did the best he could do with the situation.

Erin Nelligan
Boston, Massachusetts

I have read about Jet Blue in Fast Company for years and was impressed that their reaction to their debacle fell in line with their descriptors over the years. My continual question is who has influence with the airports to just let people off planes instead of sitting – then I will think there is a huge amount of influence that is new.

Robin Orr
Savoy, Illinois

I often say that honesty disarms. The conventional response is to hide in a corner and hope your cover-up story (lie) works. Neeleman’s solutions and genuine response are the exact opposite, and help to stabilize both internal and external loyalty. Those with past corporate crises (Tylenol, Ford, etc.) are still in business today, thanks in part to similar actions, and I foresee the same for JetBlue. I would happily be a passenger on one of their flights.

Peter Graening
Chicago, Illinois

I recall eBay being offline for several days during their early growth. People commented how unacceptable it was, how it was doom for the company. They stuck to their goal, vision and execution and prevailed long-term. Neeleman has an extremely YOUNG airline despite its success, and I’m impressed with the hard work they’re doing. Business is hard enough, having to depend on Mother Nature is even harder.

Harold Mann
Mann Consulting
San Francisco, California

I run a small service business, we all make mistakes. How you handle the situation and deal with your customers is the answer. The key is a quick solution before the wound becomes infected. Work with the customer keep them happy if possible.

Bud Montgomery
The Seract Corp.
Lakewood, Washington

I think David Neeleman responded in a meaningful ethical way. We have all been stranded at one time or another. His response recognized the inconvenience and stress people may have experienced from a situation that was largely out of their control. He took action, at his own peril, to remedy the situation. You can over think and become paralyzed into inaction. Not JetBlue.

Martin Mysyk
Calgary, CANADA

I think he did everything he could at the time, and I admire him for taking full responsibility. Weather happens, but I still do not understand how they can leave folks sitting on a plane for 10 HOURS. Didn’t somebody have the sense to get them off the plane??? I will have to give them a few years to re-organize before I would feel comfortable booking a flight on JetBlue.

Karen France
Real Estate Business Resources, Inc.
Topeka, Kansas

I think he did the right thing. Has the brand been damaged? Not in my eyes, but only time will tell. What he did sounds far better than 10 days ago when Northwest stranded me in Chicago due to snow…He is honest – I appreciate that in a CEO!

Patricia Lustig
LASA Development UK Ltd
Cirencester, UK

I think he did the right thing. Taking responsibility and being visible to the public is essential to rebuilding any credibility or reputation damaged in this type of incident. This article doesn’t depict Neeleman in a particularly favorable light initially, but it gets better. I do think that JetBlue will have to regain some confidence that has been lost, but it seems that they’re on the right track.

Susan Egbert
Rancho Cordova, California

I think he did the right thing. yes I do think the brand was damaged – maybe ‘dinged’ is a better word. I am impressed that Mr. Neeleman did immediately accept responsibility and offered an apology. this immediately started to re-build the brand in my mind. I would have been more disappointed if he had started pointing fingers at others, the FAA, the weather, etc. I understand there were situations out of the company’s control and it did expose flaws in their operations. the big question will be what happens the next time there is a major storm? how will JetBlue respond?

Mike Eiseman
Crystal Lake, Illinois

I think Neeleman did handle the aftermath of the crisis in an accountable manner. as someone who has not flown jet blue, I have only heard of their reputation but not experienced it. based on how Neeleman handled the crisis, I would be willing to give them a try although he’s now set some pretty high expectations for what I’ll be expecting!

Ellen Hongo
Reno, Nevada

I think Neeleman did the right thing AFTER the crisis. Jet Blue is held to a different standard.

JetBlue’s brand was damaged but, to me, not destroyed.

Tim Geraghty
Ada, Michigan

I think Neeleman reacted well and is doing the right thing. The customer Bill of Rights will go a long way to restore trust and confidence. I don’t thing their rep is damaged unless something severe like this happens to them again. As the writer said, other companies make mistakes and they recover, I think JetBlue can recover as well.

Jo-Ann Little
Middletown, Connecticut

I think that the MSM overplayed this entire thing. There was ice and snow, nature messed up air travel, and the airlines dealt with it. So what… JB was on the high horse of customer service, but dealing with ice is different.

Shaun Dakin
Alexandria, Virginia

I think the brand has been damaged in the short, but I actually think they can recover from it.

Shawn Hoke
Shippenville, Pennsylvania

I was amazed at the Customer Bill of Rights and have written about it in my own newsletter. I think he did the right thing, accepted the responsibility, didn’t hide behind his position and positively impacted his brand. Was the JetBlue brand damaged–yes? But it will bounce back even stronger than before if everything is implemented the way he has positioned it.

Gayle Carson
Carson Research Center
Miami Beach, Florida

I was in NYC during the storm and I heard all about the debacle. For most of us, though, we simply wanted to get home. David is setting the standard. Companies must be held accountable for their actions, but always remember to keep the customer first in that process. That is what JetBlue is doing.

Brandon Tidwell
FedEx Services
Memphis, Tennessee

I was not personally affected by the event, but I certainly read all about it in the newspapers and heard about it on TV news. I also haven’t flown on JetBlue in over two years, yet the experiences I had with the airline awhile ago made me a true believer. And JetBlue’s response to the crisis only reconfirmed for me that this is a different kind of airline — and Neeleman is a different kind of CEO.

Henry Eakland
Piedmont, California

I watched several of the interviews Mr. Neeleman conducted, under huge pressure, he took the punishment standing up and said all the right things. He is to be commended for his handling of a difficult situation.

Bryan Hayes
Hyatt Hotels
Chicago, Illinois

I worked for a charter airline and the situation (according to the media) that caused the meltdown is by far the hardest to deal with and needs incredible automation. That is where they need to concentrate the efforts. He did the right thing. You are so right about low expectations being the norm for Delta – so sorry they have fallen so low. This is coming from a one time huge Delta fan and frequent flyer. Even my sister who does not fly much says, Delta – YUCK.

Lucinda Sibille
Wilton Manors, Florida

I’ve been seriously wronged by American Airlines multiple times, and my trust in them is forever shaken. I understand that mistakes happen, and this seems to be the first major problem that JetBlue has had. I have plenty of room for forgiveness for JetBlue, but then again… I wasn’t one of the people stranded in February

Serena Cline
Fullerton, California

I’d prefer the article go deeper. David Neeleman’s behavior is admirable, but it still seems he alone is overseeing the necessary changes at JetBlue. Unaddressed questions: Is JetBlue now big enough so that the company culture and Neeleman’s personality can no longer be one and the same? Is JetBlue addressing culture for the long term? That’s what will distinguish it from Delta, American, et al. (P.S. – I assume this article is still to be copyedited.)

Deborah Gavrin Frangquist
San Francisco, California

If Neeleman would add some specificity to his fixes, he would gain greater credibility. People want to believe he’s fixing the problems and that customer experience will be better in the future, but he’s got to back it up with tangible evidence of fixes in progress.

Keith Lundquist
W. Melbourne, Florida

In an age where corporate execs often hide behind lawyers and corporate speak to protect themselves from the public’s wrath, it’s refreshing to read about one exec’s very public humanity. Ok, JetBlue screwed up; it was bound to happen. All good companies do at some point. I admire the way Neeleman handled the situation, however, and suggest other CEO’s take notes. I’ll monitor the situation, but given the chance, I’ll fly JetBlue again.

Tracy Bell
Washington, DC

In an era where personal responsibility is something people remember hearing about once but have never actually seen in action, it was refreshing to see Mr. Neeleman take responsibility. He didn’t blame others or the weather he just said it’s my fault and here is what I’m going to do to fix it. Watching him say that made me want to go someplace so I could fly JetBlue for no other reason then to encourage the man who’s willing to take responsibility and the company that is truly dedicated to its customers.

Sandy Poston
Missoula, Montana

It appears the media made more to this than needed, I agree the brand has taken a hit, but In the mistakes comes a lesson learned a new direction for operations perhaps?

This a fine article getting and sticking to the point, nice read?!

Anthony Paul Figueora
BlindFalls Publishing
South Dakota

it doesn’t matter – because it won’t matter as we are entering a harsh economic depression in the united states. employment and the dollar will crash. thinking minds right now don’t give a frack about JetBlue. I would be extremely surprised if JetBlue will even be around in 2008…

Chris VanHouten
Ann Arbor, Michigan

It is a little less shiny due to the publicity but not hurt and the bill of rights will also be something the other carriers have to do

Austin White
Middletown, Rhode Island

It is funny how we expect corporations to be humane yet balk at its CEO when they do something human. Other CEO’s perhaps led by greed or apathy have given us poor examples. Mr. Neeleman has shown that he cares about his company, his employees, his customers, and even a writer.

Derek Strickland
The Salvation Army
Escondido, California

It is very easy to make emotionless decisions when it comes to travel. But I think if you create a relationship with the customer that evokes emotion, I think you will create a loyal customer. It is hard to add human characteristics to large faceless industry. But I think JetBlue has done it. Creating human characteristics by accepting fault and asking for forgiveness has made JetBlue a human company, now getting past the event and evoking a positive emotion is what will help this company succeed. And I think it will.

Jonathan Forrester
Cumming, Georgia

It only takes flying on other airlines to realize that the damage to JetBlue’s brand is only temporary. People will quickly return to flying with the airline that actually cares about its passengers.

Oren Lieberman
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

It seems to me that owning up to your mistakes is the only honest thing to do. At the end of the day people know if you made a mistake or not and if you did simply admit it and talk about what you will do differently next time. Didn’t everyone’s parents raise them that way? Why is this so remarkable?

Don Kleiner
Maine Outdoors
Union, Maine

It’s a great example of the power of a personal brand and how leaders with strong personal brands shape their corporate brand values. Congratulations to David Neeleman for walking the talk and the genius Bill of Rights introduction, another reason to continue to love JetBlue.

Denise Fernandez
Julden Group
Irving, Texas

It’s a little harder to airlines to recover their image than other industries. The brand will have a tarnished image for the short term, but consumers will soon come back after enough time has passed assuming future incidents are handled well.

Article Reader
Chandler, Arizona

It’s refreshing for a company to take responsibility for poor customer service and to implement actions to prevent them from happening. The proof will be the next time there’s a similar crisis but for now Jet Blue’s response seems right on target for retaining customers.

Mary Fabrizio
Bullet Points Inc.
Colfax, North Carolina

It’s refreshing to see executives stand up and take the consequences of their company’s actions. Too often companies abdicate responsibility and gloss over their failings. I respect David Neeleman and we look forward to the day JetBlue offers flights from Philadelphia.

Lance Charen
Foss Brown (DE) LLC
Wilmington, Delaware

It’s wonderful when a leader is able to admit fault and define the plans for recovery. If only more companies were focused on their efforts in this manner, they might have an opportunity to rise to the challenges in front of them. I have no doubts that JetBlue will overcome and emerge stronger from this event

Jennifer Macks
Barton Malow Company

Jet Blue does have some damage control to take care of. But, with a leader like David as the pilot, they will do what is right, both for the airline and for the customers that have come to love what sets Jet Blue Apart…The Airlines willingness/commitment to putting the passenger first!

Jon Lakefish
Seattle, Washington

Jet Blue had an incident, but instead of allowing it to damage their reputation, Neeleman acknowledged the problem and set about correcting it immediately. Customers may be irritated when things go wrong but a companies’ response makes the difference between an irate customer and a customer for life.

Anthony Wallace
Valrico, Florida

Jet Blue has done what every company should do but mostly don’t: apologize. That they are going beyond that with credits/refunds is very admirable. That it is coming from the CEO is the greatest form of flattery and respect to Jet Blue’s customers.

Steve Saefke
Burnsville, Minnesota

Jet Blue has once again demonstrated its commitment to its customers by taking this opportunity to create the ‘Customers Bill of Rights.’ While the Valentine’s Day (and beyond) delays were regrettable, Jet Blue’s honesty, commitment to preventing the problem from ever happening again and complete acceptance of their mistake makes them every air travelers sweetheart.

Christy Lamagna
Strategic Meetings & Events
Bernardsville, New Jersey

Jet Blue understands that for those of us who log tens of thousands of airline miles a year leather seats, DIRECTV television and friendly service go a long way towards making life away from home a little more comfortable. While no company can be expected to be perfect, a genuine apology followed by a customer bill of rights and an action-backed promise from David Neeleman is certainly a perfect response to an unfortunate series of events. All of us in the service industry can learn from Jet Blue’s experience and response.

Matthew Zemon
Element Customer Care
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Jet Blue’s brand has at least been temporarily damaged. Customers will come back to Jet Blue because of their segment – low cost customers. If another major event like the February one occurs, their will be significant damage to their brand because they are not significantly less expensive than the larger commercial airlines 70% of the time. In defense of Neeleman and Jet Blue, they made the appropriate, sincere reaction to the situation which will help maintain the Jet Blue brand strength.

Joe Short
Walnut Creek, California

JetBlue demonstrated why the airline has a reservoir of good will, and will continue to replenish it through their actions. The Valentines Day weather threw them a loop and their systems could not cope with the ramifications. How nice not to hear the raft of usual excuses, and how comforting to know they’re taking the situation seriously.

Jeffrey Aronson
Josias River Homestead
Vinalhaven, Maine

JetBlue has little if any reservoir of good will with me. They don’t fly where I go. So my highly positive reaction to his handling of the mess is driven strictly by his immediate actions, and those actions left me with the desire to fly JetBlue whenever I get the chance.

Jim DeVaney
Seattle, Washington

JetBlue has made another milestone. Any one can be good when everything is going your way. Try to be good when it isn’t going your way, or try to recover after not going your way, that is what will separate a really great company from the rest of the contenders!

Don Franklin
Hampton, Georgia

JetBlue is a victim of their own reputation, we expect more of them and when they suffered a breakdown (not uncommon by airline standards) it appears they were shell-shocked. This has not happened to them in the past and now they have to recover. Once is a mistake and their brand will suffer a bit but if it should happen again, then they become just another airline to me.

Denzel Eslinger
Salt Lake City, Utah

JetBlue isn’t a major airline in my market. Having watched the incident from a distance I was impressed by JetBlue’s response. The truth, the issue may have been ugly but there’s great value in their sincere and honest answers. I believe that they’ll fix it. When other airlines do the same thing they shrug their shoulders and don’t own up. I pretty much know things aren’t going to change. Give me the choice and I’ll pick JetBlue.

Mike Howard
Wayland, Michigan

JetBlue proves mistakes (and the right response) can actually strengthen your brand. Consider their pilot’s Top-Gun-esque emergency landing at LAX in September of 2005: what company can take a near crash and build instant brand equity? JetBlue. Their commitment to customers and their poise in a crisis will help them fly even higher in the years to come. Keep up the good work JetBlue – while the media may not get it, your customers sure are noticing.

Joey Coleman
Design Symphony
Washington, District of Columbia

JetBlue started off so strong with such a good concept that it might take more than a 3 day debacle to bring them down. Although it sounds like Neeleman is a little testy. ‘I just want to go out and run the company’ should have been his motto prior to the meltdown. Their brand is tainted but they’ll be fine.

FYI there was a typo: “Of course, I disappointed, “…

and I did not understand the following sentence:

Within days of “the event” as he calls it, Neeleman had changed the conversation from what JetBlue’s shortcomings to its actions to avoid future breakdowns.

Eugene Cantera
Dallas, Texas

JetBlue took a hit for sure – but damaged maybe too big a word for this + the damage control was well done, honest open – so it may well survived the hit> I so agree – Delta and the others, just met our low expectations. That’s why I do my darndest NOT to fly anywhere

Gerald Clor
Managed Market Resources, LLC
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

JetBlue’s past brand credibility, should make customers more willing to forgive. Apologies are easy, however, and time will only tell if JetBlue can truly learn from its mistakes and become stronger from the experience. Lessons learned from mistakes have the potential for the greatest impacts if we let them. David’s approach of admitting failures is a breath of fresh air to the business world. In an environment where customer service is vital, brands could gain credibility by being willing to admit when they are wrong and show the steps that will be taken to correct the situation.

Danny Cowell
Colorado Springs, Colorado

JetBlue’s brand has been damaged because they stumbled so badly in this storm. But the brand may prove to be stronger than ever if it becomes clear that the company’s response to the event was effectual in improving responsiveness in the next crisis.

Acknowledging that the perspective of the customer is valid, is the critical first step. Even though the customer’s expectations may have been unreasonably high given the circumstance, Mr. Neeleman’s willingness to hold JetBlue accountable to those expectations is a strong message.

David Rowe
American Fork, Utah

JetBlue’s brand has been damaged, but I know it will rebound and become stronger as a result. Screwups happen, but JetBlue is positioned to benefit from this one.

Craig Isaak
Grand Rapids, Michigan

JetBlue’s brand has likely been damaged to those who do not fly JetBlue. However, I think this incident and the company’s response will only cause its significant number of promoters to further and more strongly promote them. I’ve personally experienced this type of response- JetBlue’s strong reputation in service and customer advocacy will overshadow this unfortunate incident that could and has happened to many other airlines.

Sarah Lindquist
Overland Park, Kansas

JetBlue’s CEO did the right thing which surprised many people, even loyal customers. Continued trust will depend on responses in the immediate future. Some people said, it was only a matter of time because the whole airline industry is in peril and one airline cannot fix the whole. But, at least JetBlue is trying.

Chigee Cloninger
South Burlington, Vermont

JetBlue’s desire to fly their schedule contributed to their problem. Neeleman’s response was spot on. But there is a bigger issue. How does Jet Blue or any company for that matter prepare for an event with a low probability of occurring with substantial consequences.

Using technology is one answer and the use of the internet and email is a prudent course of action. But overstaffing to respond to such an event in the future is difficult if prices are to remain low.

The risk is JetBlue becoming American (or United, or Delta or …) to avoid a similar problem in the future. That would be the wrong answer for certain.

Terry Carlson
KTE Consulting
Manassas, Virginia

Lesson learned and life goes on…the flying public will forget this ever happened if Needleman keeps moves forward and doesn’t rely on the company’s history to pull him out of the nosedive.

Tom Simms
Mount Holly, New Jersey

Like the Tylenol recalls, the Ford/Firestone tire fiasco, the new Coca Cola. There does seem to be a process that allows companies who have blundered to make lemonade out of lemons. Recognition of problem, taking responsibility/accountability.

David White
Orion Group International
Ann Arbor, Michigan

lost interest at paragraph 7

Peter Pterneas
Center Line, Michigan

Mr. Neeleman absolutely did the right thing by accepting responsibility for the debacle. It is refreshing to see a CEO step up and be a man about his company’s shortcomings. Deep down I’d bet that every employee in the world hopes they can say the same thing about their bosses.

As for brand damage, that remains to be seen. A lot will depend on JetBlue’s ability to deliver on it’s promises. Based on it’s reputation and the decisive actions of David Neeleman, I’d bet that the damage will be shorter lived and a whole lot less severe.

Scott Garner
Kokomo, Indiana

Mr. Neeleman absolutely did the right thing. The brand is not damaged, in fact, I think it will emerge stronger than ever. In this day and age, how many CEOs actually admit and take the blame for business problems? But Mr. Neeleman’s reaction is no surprise at all to fans of JetBlue. It’s part of their brand. And his quick apology and explanation only make that brand stronger.

Jeff Cooper
Brooklyn, New York

Mr. Neeleman is a CEO who knows his customers. All anyone wants in a crisis such as this is to have the company respond to their needs. Apologize, make it right, make sure it won’t happen again. No lawyers, no ‘spin’ – just common sense. I’ll fly with Neeleman and his team!

Joe Raasch
Minneapolis, Minnesota

My wife & I often discuss the think versus feel approaches to life because I am a planning type and she is intuitive. We know that each approach has its place. David Neeleman, who probably plans many of his business decisions, seems to also realize that occasionally it is necessary to do the intuitive right thing.

Has JetBlue’s brand been damaged? Only as much as Honda’s brand was damaged during the 1970’s when it honored major rusting problems in its automobiles. Honda currently possesses substantial brand loyalty and market share. I think JetBlue will benefit from this. Look at all the free publicity it has achieved as a result of this event.

Mel Selway
PA.R.T.S.*, Inc.
Amado, Arizona

Needleman did do the right thing. It may have the same long lasting effect that similar tactics worked for the Tylenol scare several years ago.

Glenn Lentz
Covington, Kentucky

Neeleman definitely did the right thing — but he’s raised customer expectations even higher. After conspicuously promising that they’ll never let such a massive screw-up happen again, I think that JetBlue will rise or fall on how well they handle the NEXT 100-year storm.

Paula Lozar
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Neeleman demonstrated effective leadership by taking charge of the situation and preventing any additional damage to the brand. A simple, yet refreshing way to effectively manage a crisis at the top.

Ryan Smartt
Richmond, Virginia

Neeleman did something too many CEOs today forget to do in similar circumstances–he apologized and promised to do something about it. People are willing to forgive. Neeleman had a significant point to make–ask the other carriers why they don’t come up with a customer’s bill of rights.

Lawrence Kemper
University of La Verne
Huntington Beach, California

Neeleman did the best possible to the best of his ability. But JetBlue has set itself apart from the competition enough so that customers will still be loyal to JetBlue. It’s like asking someone if they want Butter (JetBlue) or Margarine (Delta.)

Melody McCabe
Office Efficient Systems, LLC
Waukesha, Wisconsin

Neeleman did the only thing he could. Jet Blue’s been damaged. However, if people have flown it in the past & loved it, they will give it another chance. Without the openness, it did not look good.

Jan Daker
Breakthrough Coaching
Belleville, Illinois

Neeleman did the right thing by apologizing, however, employee enthusiasm clearly did not translate into employee action to get the passengers off of the aircraft in whatever manner was necessary during the crisis. The brand has been damaged but, thankfully, we live in a nation that roots for the underdog and that translates into Jet Blue getting a great shot at redemption.

David Porter
San Antonio, Texas

Neeleman did the right thing in personifying that the company cares. JetBlue is viewed as a different company, and it needs to react like a different company to keep that image. At the same time, it seems that Neeleman is hurting his and the company’s ability to respond by taking too much upon himself rather than better utilizing those good people he says he has. He needs people with the right (operations) skills to solve this problem.

Markf Lang
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Neeleman did the right thing. He accepted responsibility and moved on. Has JetBlue’s brand been damaged, we will have to see if they learned from their mistakes.

Jason Wielgoszinski
Parkersburg, West Virginia

Neeleman did the right thing. The brand has the trust and respect of its most loyal customers; these customers understand that airlines face weather and can meltdown. It’s what the brand does in the face of the challenge that cements the respect and re-earns the trust. Yes, there was some damage but with it is the chance to reinforce the brand.

William R Downey Jr
Kline & Company
Little Falls, New Jersey

Neeleman did what few CEO’s ever do: demonstrate the courage required in a crisis and the humility to express regret. Then he focused on what customers can expect in the future. That’s what anyone would want to hear, including shareholders.

Barbara Hughes
Intellectual Capital Consulting, Inc.
Marietta, Georgia

Neeleman handled the crisis well – it was all about the actions, not empty words. The interesting thing going forward will be whether he learned the lesson of the downside of far too rapid expansion.

Gareth Kay
Boston, Massachusetts

Neeleman has done about all anyone could do in a similar situation. it irks me anyway when media folks look for some sort of sobbing I feel your pain, remorse. okay, the weather was bad, he tried to cope as best he could, people were inconvenienced. end of story

Stan Hall
Charleston, South Carolina

Neeleman is a CEO who really gets it about customer loyalty and about how to run a company from the top. He went out of his way to communicate with his customers, his shareholders, and his employees. His actions speak loudly and resonate with me and many others, I’m sure. JetBlue survives, and will continue to improve. Bob Shaff

Bob Shaff
Customers for Life Consulting
Tucson, Arizona

Neeleman is doing the right things at JetBlue; and, he is doing things right. He took an incident for which JetBlue had little-to-no control and learned from it. He refuses to drive via the rearview mirror. He is looking forward, making solid, executable plans, establishing proper methods and procedures for the future. JetBlue’s brand has only been damaged if some cannot or will not understand that in some extreme circumstances, conditions do not always have quick, acceptable solutions. JetBlue’s legacy is substantial enough to weather this incident – since Neeleman continues to learn from the past, refusing to relive it.

Dr. Michael Scheuermann
Drexel University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Neeleman performed brilliantly because he believed in what he was doing and his sincerity showed. JetBlue’s brand may have a slight tarnish for the short-term but not for the long run.

Gayle Anderson
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Neeleman responded quickly, proactively and responsibly. If we had company owners, board members and political leaders who understood the concept of personal and corporate accountability just think where we could be!

Sandra Jones
Champaign, Illinois

Neeleman stays in leadership when challenges threaten to overwhelm his company. His proaction, intensity, willingness and decisiveness confirm why JetBlue is on the way to #1

Stephen Frueh
With These Rings Institute
Simi Valley, California

Neeleman’s and the company’s actions prior to the storm make me believe they’ll weather this situation just fine.

Kevin Connolly
Kearney, Nebraska

No surprise that the guy who waded into a pool that most shrank from has once again personally demonstrated that it is possible to fight the tides. Bravo David – you accepted responsibility, you acknowledged the results of a staggering set of unpredictable circumstances, and you proposed solutions instead of offering excuses. What more can JetBlue do? Continue to refine their customer-centric practices, and we’ll hang in there with you. Honesty and integrity wins EVERY time.

Bruce Cotting
Silver Spring, Maryland

No. JetBlue’s brand has not been damaged. Mr. Neeleman absolutely did the right thing. The greater question to me is what company can be all things to all people? Any company, no matter how big or small, only has a certain capacity to do. Mr. Neeleman’s response to the event was more than adequate, and an acceptable gesture from a company and CEO who obviously values their customers.

Patrick White
Lawrenceville, Georgia

Nobody can fault a company’s legal counsel for avoiding liabilities… that’s their job. But in times of crisis, consumers aren’t interested in hearing slick yeah, but statements. If you’re not personally affected, it’s pretty uninspiring; if you are, it’s utterly infuriating. On the other hand, if you’ve ever heard a company representative say, I’m sorry, let’s see what we can do about this, you know how powerful that is. And I bet you shopped their again. It’s a natural human reaction — we respond to acts of integrity with increased levels of trust and loyalty. Kudos to Neeleman and JetBlue.

Michael Shoemaker
Personnel Decisions International
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Of course the JetBlue brand has been temporarily damaged. However, Neeleman’s swift, honest acknowledgement and acceptance of responsibility will smooth the recovery of customer perception. Only time, and actual implementation, will till how the JetBlue customer bill of rights will help – or hinder – customer perception.

Brian Griggs
Newport News, Virginia

Other than the passengers on the flights – did anyone really care about the delays – delays happen, it was a unique experience and likely no one cares anymore.

Other than the ones who lived through it.

David Carlson
Eau Claire, Wisconsin

People who see value in a product and a company making an effort to do the right thing will remain loyal and JetBlue will persevere.

Laura Sankovich
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Refreshing to see an CEO be so visible about accepting the hit for a company problem. JetBlue brand is better off today than before because of candor. Great and timely article.

Ron Cole
Riverside Research Institute
Castle Rock, Colorado

Reminds me of the analogy relationship counselors use – trust is like a bank account. JetBlue had built up a big account with its customers, so the big withdrawal was easier to weather.

Paul Verberne
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

seems like a pretty bland article with no real insight

John Lloyd
San Diego, California

Seth Godin had a great suggestion for JetBlue, or any other company in a PR nightmare like this: potlach.

If I ran JetBlue, I’d go to each of the people affected (and it’s not that many) and give each person 40 free round trip tickets. Or maybe 50. More than any person could use for a long, long while. Let them fly with as many friends as they like until they’ve used up 50 seats.

JetBlue’s Customer Bill of Rights does not go nearly far enough. Neeleman should adopt a potlach mentality.

Carter Adler
Ameriprise Financial
Ypsilanti, Michigan

Sgt. Robert B. Thrasher.
Pvt. Clarence T. Spencer.
Spc. Dennis L. Sellen Jr.
Pfc. Tarryl B. Hill.
Lance Cpl. Matthew P. Pathenos.
Pfc. Brian A. Browning

On February 14, these six young men died in combat. Where was the media? Where was the public outcry, or at least the public scrutiny? On the tarmac at JFK — because a few passengers were inconvenienced. Imagine the inconvenience of a funeral, a lost son, a lost husband instead.

Back home, the symbiotic-but-cancerous relationship between the media and the public continues. Together, they elevate the next American underdog to the level of darling. And then they spitefully and gleefully knock the Golden Child off of their pedestal to make room for the next and the next.

JetBlue is a good company caught in the cold by a few operational oversights and a malicious media. They will survive.

But what about the American soul?

Cliff Watson
Omaha, Nebraska

So far, I have not had the opportunity to fly JetBlue, but I would. The up-front, highly responsive reaction of the company to an obvious failure puts me at ease, and I trust their customer service expertise based solely on the intent evidenced by their actions.

Bruce Crichton
Jacksonville, Florida

Some of the people who were stranded may never fly this brand again. But in today’s travel environment — where security measures have made air travel more of a hassle than a convenience — no airline is perfect and price and schedule are still king. JetBlue’s share of the market may fluctuate, but I don’t see this incident putting them out of business — or even affecting their brand. Hey, it could have been worse — it could have been cyanide instead of Tylenol.

Robin Zaleski
PME Enterprises LLC
Hartford, Connecticut

Taking responsibility anymore seems passe. That David Neeleman did so is admirable, and why this is more than about damage control. His actions will likely be shown for years as an example of how someone turned something so wrong into something right.

KC Fowler
Hanford, California

That’s nice that he apologized; but he still (in this and other interviews) doesn’t say how he’s going to get passengers off the plane and back in the terminal. Most fliers don’t mind a little delay occasionally. It’s when they are forced to sit in a plane on the runway longer than 15 minutes that their patience wears thin. This in my opinion is a good enough reason to not fly Jet Blue.

Wade Henson
Seagate Technology
Longmont, Colorado

The apology is something that is lacking in many corporate settings, which can make it a revolutionary idea. Unfortunately, once you start, you may have to continue until everyone has heard it.

Jeffrey Martin
Minneapolis, Minnesota

The article is great, but the jet blue brand image has been damaged by the media coverage at the time. It’s going to take months to repair the Image of JetBlue.

Mohamad Al-Sayed
Elmhurst, New York

The article struck me as strictly reporting — what happened, what the Jet Blue guy said and did. That’s a newspaper article, not a magazine one. Have an opinion, or a point or something. I already knew what JetBlue’s point was — don’t do it again. What’s Fast Company’s point in doing the article? It’s important how a company reacts? Duh.

Mark Tavarozzi
Irvine, California

The brand has been damaged only to the extent of the reaction of the leadership of the company to that damage. In my opinion, David Neeleman handled the damage control of this very well indeed. It is a breath of fresh air to actually have leadership take accountability for mistakes and promise to learn from them. If only our government could learn from David Neeleman.

Scott Everts
Whirlpool Corporation
Fort Smith, Arkansas

The brand is damaged if more people have this experience.

Tara Agen
Flavored Layers
Suffern, New York

The consumer has a short memory when money is concerned. Sure, the JetBlue reputation is tarnished, not damaged, but a few PR moves, a few more bargain flights, and the all-forgiving public will forget.

Richard Hook
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The fact that David Neeleman very publicly accepted responsibility, apologized and then set about ensuring that his company did better in the future speakers volumes about Jet Blue. I wouldn’t even know who to expect to speak for United, Delta, Continental, North West etc – they are all faceless corporations.

Graeme Harrison
Biamp Systems
Portland, Oregon

The fact that he accepted responsibility and pitched in to help makes him credible in my book. You don’t find other CEO’s doing this type of thing. It’s called leadership, and he understands it.

Susan Brittain
Clemmons, North Carolina

The Jet Blue brand was destroyed by frequent fliers who hesitatingly fly this airline to begin with. We are afraid of just what happened. They don’t offer many alternatives.

Joel Henley
National Starch and Chemical
Washington, New Jersey

The main point here is expectations. David Neeleman approached the problem the right way by apologizing, creating an action plan, and then executing, which met the expectations of JetBlue’s customers. JetBlue’s brand has not been damaged, as of yet. The changes that will come out of this setback, if executed correctly, will make JetBlue a better airline. Coupled with the fact that the media’s attention is still focused on them, it will give them an opportunity to then tout these positive changes publicly, which will meet or exceed the expectations of JetBlue’s potential customers.

Ian Thomas
Tampa, Florida

The time to decide if JetBlue has been damaged is over the next 12 months. I’ve endured worse treatment on other airlines with no apology or remorse whatever. David Neeleman’s desire to use this as a learning experience makes we want to give him and his company another chance.

William Steiner
Chicago, Illinois

There is never anything wrong with saying We’re sorry or We were wrong. But, you want to add, We will do everything we can to not be wrong again.

Lindle Grigsby
Farmers Branch, Texas

There must be authority given to employees to fix something on the spot and deal with the consequences later. I don’t know if the new fixes do that. It appears that Neeleman has done some fixes but if the above authority isn’t there he hasn’t.

Charles Hanson
Roswell, New Mexico

There was obviously a failure of imagination. The brand was damaged, but the key will be how it handles the next storm. If they do not get it right at that time, then the damage will be more severe. Right now it is still just words. Thought they seem to be moving in the right direction. We shall see.

Michael Kreidler
North Canton, Ohio

This is a classic example of LEADERSHIP. Unfortunately, it’s rare to find in this country, so when it stands before us in the form of David Neeleman it’s news! He is just doing his job, and with all the media attention, it’s no wonder he was frustrated. Mr. Neeleman absolutely did the right thing. He took responsibility — not just lip service, but true atonement; is learning from these mistakes; and most importantly said he was sorry. Something most leaders in this country are unable (or unwilling) to do. Thank you, David Neeleman, for being a leader. Our children has so few of them to emulate.

Robin Pullo
Granite State Independent Living
Henniker, New Hampshire

This is a very excellent article. And David Neeleman is doing the right thing to make it right for the customers, Sure JetBlue’s brand has been damaged, now is the time to make it right and make it better, learning from the mistakes.

Harl Kimble
Middleburg, Florida

This was an opportunity for JetBlue to show what they stand for. It is easy to say that you are focused on your customers, when everything is going well. It is much harder when you are faced with problems, especially if they are of your own making. Neeleman is clearly a leader that understands that your customer’s trust is your most important asset. I expect JetBlue to become an even stronger brand.

Alex Jimenez
Carver, Massachusetts

Topic: Excellent, very near and dear to me. I was a big fan of Neeleman, and now I am a bigger fan of him and Jet Blue. By being humble, apologizing in public, and generating the Bill of Rights Jet Blue reacted immediately to the largest crisis Jet Blue has ever have faced, and they managed to add credibility and save face in the process where other companies would have hidden behind legal talk and gone downhill. The media exposure good or bad in the beginning turned to an opportunity when they introduced the action plan to make sure this never happens again.

Jorgen Brich
Glenwood, New Jersey

Toyota approaches problems as treasures from which to learn and improve. Typically, you are not forced to review your failures with so much input from the public. Neeleman is on the right track by answering complaints with character and committing to making necessary changes.

Ruth Solinski
Marquette, Michigan

True test of character, personal or business, is how one responds when crisis occurs. It’s inevitable, challenges and mistakes are going to happen and how others view these unfortunate incidents is directly proportional to how one (personally or a business) responds to it.

JetBlue answered the questions, admitted fault, and ultimately was visible to the public for the problems that occurred. That fact alone, sans any newly implemented Bill of Rights, far exceeds anything that their competitors did or have done in the century of modern aviation.

I’ve never flown JetBlue, but this sole instance has caused me to think of JetBlue in a much different light while the others pale in comparison.

We want businesses to deliver on what they say while being responsible and accountable…JetBlue delivers on both. How could a customer ask for more?

Ryan Loeffler
Grabill, Indiana

What a great example of doing the right thing. In a world where more and more people avoid taking responsibility for the bad-stuff it is good to see someone willing to walk the walk.

Richard Youngblood
Chattanooga, Tennessee

What else could he do? Not much except maybe show up at one of their busy terminals and let it be known he is the guy and then listen and apologize like crazy. Those people would pass it on to their friends.

Yes their brand has been damaged….how could it not be?

To me, the surprising thing is that none of his employees on site took the bull by the horns and said to hell with Neeleman, let’s get these people off these planes right now!

Bert Wallace
Wallace Management Solutions
River Ridge, Louisiana

What I like most is the direct candor…as if you were there. David Neeleman overreacted. Most of his problem was an act of nature and he was too defensive. I would have said sorry about that, …we’ll clean up the mess and move on. He pandered to the Press. When your fair and square, you don’t have to grovel.

Charles Larson
Scottsdale, Arizona

Who among us is perfect? Most people are willing to give someone another chance assuming they sense a new attitude and see modified behavior. Mr. Neeleman seems determined for his company to learn from this experience and make the necessary changes. Only time will tell.

Michael Ellis
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida


Bud Hanson
Ormond Beach, Florida

Yes the brand is damaged, but JetBlue can recover the luster by doing exactly what David Neeleman said. He is also stuck with a broken system at Airports and with the FAA that must be fixed.

Kent Adams
Franklyn BioScience
Bradenton, Florida

Yes, David Neeleman did the right thing and he just needs a chance to proved that JetBlue will respond better in the next emergency.

Judy Knight
San Ramon, California

Yes, David Neeleman did the right thing: he created credibility and he reinforced it by being honest. Yes, JetBlue’s brand has been damaged, but it has also been repaired and reinforced thanks to Neeleman’s honesty.

SUGGESTION: For fun’s sake (after all this is about JetBlue), in the third paragraph change Valentine’s Day debacle to massacre and startling breakdown to meltdown.

Also, I would like to thank you for including me in these article reviews.

Bruce Hurwitz
Cliffside Park, North Dakota

Yes, he accepted responsibility and moved ahead with coming up with solutions. Too many leaders focus on the problem and look for people to blame. Leadership is about coming up with solutions from your team and executing

Bret Halverson
Self Employed
West Nyack, New York

Yes, he did the right thing by owning up, taking responsibility but the brand has been damaged. It is unimaginable that passengers can be stranded for 9+ hours on a tarmac without being rescued- there are just no excuses for that.

Gary Valan
San Francisco, California

Yes, he did the right thing. He admitted a problem and apologized. Now we’ll see what kind of leader he is by how he handles the internal issues. The true test of leadership is when the going gets tough. Some of his key people let him down. Will he stay loyal to them? Where was the planning around worst-case scenarios?

Robert Jewell
West Chester, Ohio

Yes, he did the right thing. I think it is always better to accept responsibility, offer a sincere apology and indicate what you plan to do about it. I’m sure that there may be some short-term damage. Long-term I think they will be fine, perhaps even stronger.

William R.Johnsonh
JFA Consulting, Inc.
Brevard, North Carolina

Yes, I wish Jet Blue has more flights out of Portland Oregon. I will go out of my way to support them because of the example they set. The world would be a much better place if more companies would step up to the plate and be human. David Neeleman kept showing up, even when he was clearly exhausted and constantly being attacked. I hope Jet Blue goes way beyond surviving and thrives at levels we have never seem before.

Christine Martell
Hillsboro, Oregon

Yes, just admit you are not perfect, that you are sorry and that you are fixing the system to prevent a reoccurrence.

Of course the brand will take some sort of a hit. JetBlue will just have to sincerely work hard at regaining public trust, which it is already in the process of doing by immediately taking action to prevent this from happening again.

Now if we could only get the current administration…

Dawn Nelson
Red Dawn Design
San Diego, California

Yes, Neeleman did the right thing. It is rare for a CEO to have the courage to do the right thing and not what the lawyers council. Jet Blue’s image may be tarnished for those who have not flown with them or heard of them, but most people respect that mistakes happen. Being treated with honest and respect will keep customers coming back.

Kristi Roark
Charlotte, North Carolina

Yes, Neeleman did the right thing. The short-term ‘benefit’ of avoidance and obfuscation would have been totally overshadowed by a loss of distinction of JetBlue from its bigger competitors.

Brand damaged? I don’t think so.

Michael Morgan
Houston, Texas

Yes. I was impressed with the ads in the major dailies, the apology, the well crafted Bill. The proof is in the pudding.

I have never flown jet blue, but read the book and like the branding and customer service. I hope they set the precedent for all airlines.

Lily Lilly
Lillywing Group
Tigard, Oregon

Yes. Neeleman did the best possible thing. (No such thing as the right thing. Just what works in a crisis.)

Like the Tylenol experience of years ago, admitting the truth, being honest about mistakes actually heightens a brand image. That’s because that’s a rarity in business.

Glitches–bad or worse–will happen to any business. Even more so to the airline business. Being honest gives customers the feeling that they can trust the airline. Also a rarity.

Jim Clark
Washington State University
Pullman, Washington

Yes. No.

Funny I keep getting picked to do surveys when I no longer get FC. I have emailed editor and filled out are in every survey to say that I thought FC went down hill with new format and NO ONE ever got back to me. But you keep sending surveys. Now I really have negative thoughts about FC. Do you ever read your emails and survey comments! Take a cue from Jet Blue!

Laura Eldridge
Blah, Idaho