JetBlue may have had to cancel nearly 475 flights due to the snow and ice conditions in the Northeast earlier this week, but at least it wasn't pummeled by PR gaffes like after last year's Valentine's day tarmac incident.
Thankfully, JetBlue and a lot of other airlines have learned to communicate better with their guests, especially on social media—an improvement that can be seen on the bottom line, too. “Shares have tripled since March 2009, loving life alone in an airline sector that has recaptured the ardor of investors,” Bloomberg Businessweek notes.
“JetBlue has actually profited from the fact that fares are up and restructuring got majors out of markets like San Juan—or US Airways (essentially the rebranded America West) retrenching from Boston—where JetBlue can then swoop in and grab slots,” said Roger King, an industry analyst with CreditSights, according to Businessweek. “They still offer a better leisure experience than the others: TV, leather, more legroom.”
Indeed, JetBlue is ranked among the best low-cost airlines, but that doesn't mean it's immune to major problems like those caused by extreme winter weather this year.
According to FlightStats, a third of JetBlue flights were affected earlier this week—the largest proportion for any major American carrier. That major slow down came on the heels of the month's "polar vortex" that grounded over 150,000 passengers over the course of two days. JetBlue's stock fell 4 percent during that period.
"We're more affected than others due to concentration in the Northeast," JetBlue spokeswoman Jenny Dervin told CNN. "But this is an industry event, not a JetBlue event."
Industry event or not, JetBlue was the target of a lot of grief. Airline industry analyst Robert Mann told Christian Science Monitor that other major airlines “use regional carriers to fly about half of their domestic departures,” he said. “When one of those guys has to cancel, it’s usually a cancellation of one of those regional partner flights, and that doesn’t show up in the statistics of the big national carrier.”
Mann notes that JetBlue’s PR fiasco back in 2007 has really helped it get better. “They cancel more than others, but they’re also a lot more transparent about it now."
And transparency, as many brands continue to learn, is key.
Image via Los Angeles Times.