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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

“The captain has turned on the no speculating sign.”

“Please return to your blogs while we figure this whole thing out.” Enjoy Team Slater kids, because this is just beginning. Jet Blue has now revamped its generic yet lawyerly response on Twitter and responded in a manner that their passengers have come to expect from the brand. One part of the story was always the real focus for me: the passenger who started it all.

Granted, when a dude grabs two beers and bails out of the plane using a giant slide, you aren’t really focused on the why. As Jet Blue conducts its investigation though, a variety of comments I’ve seen not just there but in other places get some things right and some wrong. Imma paraphrase:

“What’s the big deal since nobody was hurt.” Hey, I’m on Team Steven as much as anyone, but the ends don’t justify the means. Ever. Good to see ethical flexibility is alive and well, though. Kudos to mom and dad for some right proper parenting there.

“He planned this.” I’d mostly agree. His admission that he’d thought about it for some time tells me this so-called random act of giving The Man™ the finger was less risky than it seems. Who else but an attendant with that much experience would know where the plane was on the tarmac, or at what point it was safe to leave. Thus, a small degree of planning likely had more to do with why nobody was hurt, not chance.

“He should’ve known better than to let a customer push his buttons like that.” Maybe, but maybe too he was just waiting for the next unruly passenger scenario to present itself to exit stage left. See previous.

“Fire him because the customer is always right.” Uh, no. Not when you hit a member of the staff. Customers seem to have this sense of entitlement now than at any other time that I can remember. Social media may be a boon to customer service but it’s just as much a pain in the ass for brands. Especially when customers challenge them publicly to make the littlest of transgressions right—or else. Said brandjacking is then usually satiated by a gift card and a Twitter culpa by the brand’s social media director.

“Here’s to you Mr. I got a cold pizza and now I’m going to tweet it to the world so they give me free pizza for life.”

“Increase bag fees makes passengers angry.” People have acted like selfish jerks long before bag fees started rearing their ugly head. How many people on a flight just can’t wait to jump up and grab all their stuff so they can rush off the plane. Shhh. I’m right.

“Slater deserves a promotion to Jet Blue’s corporate office to handle customer service. Maybe even do some safety videos.” Jet Blue may go easy on him, but I can’t believe the FAA is going to ignore it, not when they make me throw lotion away before boarding. (Tough!) Humorous videos may make the general audience laugh and feel good about your brand more than they already do, but the real problem is the unruly passenger who needs more persuasion. See next.

“Charge the passenger.” Actually, I said this one. Go to any game in any sport in any stadium, and you’ll find rules regarding unruly fan behavior. Forget throwing something on the field, if I as much breath wrong on the staff, it’s clear the next thing you hear over the loudspeaker will be “Security, asswhooping, section 201, row mine.” Ejection to follow. As a bonus, if my friend had lent me one of his season tickets for the game? He likely just lost them.

Point being, a zero-tolerance policy is the only thing all passengers understand. Doubt it?

Then ask yourself why don’t you whisper the word ‘bomb’ as you go through security? Because the penalty is swift and harsh. (Try it next time and see your latex tax dollars at work.) I know the transportation industry has rules against assaulting employees, but what they don’t have is something that deals with the problem before it becomes an assault by making their warnings actually mean something.

Clearly the flight attendant who uses the phrase “FAA” when passively aggressively reminding the entire cabin to remain seated isn’t getting through to the one passenger standing up to get their bags. It’s time for a little something else, like losing the ability to fly on that airline and having your name added to an industry-wide unruly passenger list for a year. (It’s done with hooligans trying to enter futbol matches in competing cities overseas using their pictures, something airlines already scan.)

I’d still love to see those safety clips though.


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