I’m not angry, JetBlue. I’m just disappointed.
Ok, I’m actually pretty miffed, as are many, many others. Last November, when JetBlue announced upcoming changes to its baggage policy and its plans to chop legroom, I wasn’t worried that my flying experience would worsen. Though I’m a frequent JetBlue flier, I’ve checked a bag only twice in the past six years, and I’m 5’3” so my knees never coming close to ramming into the seat in front of me.
Instead, I felt betrayed. When JetBlue unveiled its new fare classes earlier this week and reiterated plans to add more seats to most of its fleet, the airline broke promises it’s been making to customers for years.
JetBlue’s attitude has always been that it’s different from other airlines—it provides a more relaxed flying experience that “gives you more.” They tout their free snacks! They have the most legroom in coach! For crying out loud, one of their slogans is “happy jetting”!
But days after the announcement, Twitter is filled with a glum chorus of “Et tu, JetBlue?” and the resigned sighs of passengers let down by their favorite airline.
The issue is not that all JetBlue passengers were relying on that free checked bag or that we’ll all notice the 1.6-inch reduction in seat pitch. It’s that JetBlue’s value proposition was based on treating its passengers like humans—its commitment to bringing humanity back to air travel. The option to check a free bag in a world crowded with baggage fees was a signifier of that commitment. The promise of enough room to stretch out was evidence that JetBlue was different and special.
As a passenger, I’m left wondering what other promises JetBlue will break. Are my free snacks safe? Will boarding continue sensibly, or will it steadily morph into the ridiculous 12-tiered status-based circus that clogs other airlines’ boarding lanes? JetBlue has changed the way its customers think about it as a differentiated airline—and it has changed what its brand truly stands for.
The search for humanity in air travel continues…