Jetblue has its advantages and disadvantages, as we’ve said. So, let’s review what is necessary for Jetblue to avoid this in the future…
- A Secondary Base
- It lacks a secondary base outside of the winter weather zone. Jetblue’s coverage in the middle of the country has aways been lacking. Places for a mid-America base have been suggested as places like St. Louis MO, Kansas City MO, and Rockford IL. But none of those places is practical, although they have plenty of excess gate space.
- Other carriers affected by the recent storm could divert passengers planning to change planes in the Northeast to hubs like Dallas to get to their final destination. That meant that passengers in New York, Boston, and Washington, the urban centers hit by the storm, could have the bulk of seats going on that direction. Jetblue cannot do that, as its major focus cities were in the storm zone.
- Larger capacity planes
- On routes normally flown with larger planes, other carriers can substitute larger aircraft to move large amounts of passengers in order to get things back on schedule. Jetblue only has two types of aircraft: 100-seater E190s and 150-seater A320s. Jetblue did however charter a few larger aircraft to bring people from the West Coast to the East.
- The next storm, it is best to engage in preemptive behavior based on weather forecasting. That may include not only cancelling flights, but calculating flight loads and creating special flights to route around the bad weather, offering passengers the chance to remove themselves from flights and postpone trips to avoid weather.
- Contacting passengers and offering to preemptively move them to earlier flights to lessen load
- Computer upgrades
- Operations computers must be given the ability, through purchase or custom programming, to automate these tasks and calculate minimum disruption.
- The ability to contact passengers automatically and quickly must be enhanced. Airlines have failed to take full advantage of notification options like text messaging, instant messenging, fax, etc to ensure that one way or another, the passenger knows what is going on.
- The Human Factor
- With or without computer upgrades, operations staff have to stay on top of things. That may mean acquiring additional equipment to use in emergencies, designating staff to take responsibility for monitoring delayed aircraft and their condition, etc.
- At the counter, distribution systems to feed and reaccomodate passengers must be in place to maximize efficiency. Since much of Jetblue’s check-in is Kiosk-based…there might be a way to expand the Kiosks to be used in conjunction with an automatic rebooking system to speed passenger rebooking.
- Jetblue recently signed with Cape Air, proving they are willing to interline passengers.
- Even if they only sign contracts covering emergency diversions, being willing to take passengers and sign revenue over to other carriers in the event of diversion means they can move their passengers and get back on schedule more rapidly.
There are more thoughts, but what do you think is the answer to Jetblue’s problems?