January 25, 2013

Unpacked: Unruly Customers

It’s our privilege to fly tens of thousands of people every day from every cross-section of life. Serving as many people as we do also means dealing with a variety of challenges imaginable. You name it and we’ve seen it.

Sometimes, in order to ensure a safe cabin environment, we have to ask a customer to leave the plane. It’s not something we enjoy doing, and the decision to deplane a customer is not one we take lightly.

In addition to delivering award winning service, our Inflight crewmembers are responsible for ensuring the safety of our customers and are specially trained to handle emergencies. Inflight crewmembers   participate in specific annual training – part of a program we call Passport to Success – where they learn how to approach and diffuse sensitive and difficult situations. We stand behind all JetBlue crewmembers to make the right call based on their strong foundation of training.

When a situation occurs while the aircraft is on the ground and there is a risk of escalation, a crewmember may elect to remove a customer from the flight. Often times, it just takes a few hours to cool off and we do everything possible to rebook the customer on a later flight.  Sometimes, the only solution is to refund the customer’s fare and part ways.

In an enclosed cabin at 30,000 feet, an escalated event can distract and interfere with crewmember duties, and potentially risk the personal safety of others. An incident in the air could also result in a diversion, leading to delays for all customers onboard. It also costs a lot of money to divert to another city.  It’s not like a car where you can just pull over to the side of the road for a time-out.

Our inflight crew must put the safety and inflight experience for everyone on board as their number one priority. We don’t take risks when it comes to the well-being of our customers and crewmembers. Additionally, there are specific FAA regulations on the matter: Federal Aviation Regulations Part 121.580 states that “No person may assault, threaten, intimidate, or interfere with a crewmember in the performance of the crewmember’s duties aboard an aircraft being operated under this part.” Doing so is a Federal Offense and could result in criminal charges and steep fines. Once the aircraft door is closed, any incident is a matter of Federal investigation, which means a more severe consequence for the customer who is found to be noncompliant with inflight instructions.

The quality and safety of each customer’s experience is something we take seriously, and we take every opportunity to ensure that each and every customer is treated with respect.

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