Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
When I think of JetBlue's First Class -- known as Mint Class -- I think of the very best First Class in America.
Only Virgin America -- may it rest in peace -- even came close.
So when I hear of deficient JetBlue service, I lose my tiny faith in what remained of airline humanity.
Former MySpace co-president, MTV executive, current CEO of REDEF and general very wise person in media Jason Hirschhorn says he got on to a JetBlue flight on Thursday morning and received uncomfortable news. He tweeted.
thus ends my love affair with @jetblue At airport early for mint flight. Let me board. Tells me seat is broken when I board. Make me move to back of plane. No warning to let me reboot another flight. Either walk off or take the seat. Handled pretty poorly.
He did have the self-awareness and grace to add the hashtag #modernproblemsat7am.
This does, though, sound like mighty incompetence. And a mightily poor way of treating any passenger, never mind a First Classist.
Worse, Hirschhorn is one of the airline's biggest fans and has been quoted about how much he loves it.
The airline, naturally, replied by wanting to take the discussion to the private suite of Direct Message.
Hirschhorn was biting in not biting, tweeting:
lots of Jason Hirschhorns that bought Mint seats but told 2 Mins before door closes to move to coach or leave? No meal service. But I could buy from the cart station on the plane. A refund yes but nothing else. Oh and you don't put codes in Apple wallet tickets. Your turn.
Hirschhorn wasn't done in explaining why he wanted the debate to be public:
Because when public discourse it's harder to screw the customer. Since I won't be able to rest and my back will be out by end of flight I will be tweeting about this for weeks while they offer me nothing other than a refund and too f'in' bad with a smile.
I contacted JetBlue for its view and will update, should I hear.
It's odd, though, that no one was apparently alerted to a broken seat. Oh, but they did know, said Hirschhorn, and had known for a long time:
Turns out the @jetblue seat was broken for 6 days. They sold the seat. Knew. Didn't contact me or give me another flight option. Even worse. That said pilots and attendants were gracious and truthful. Unlike gate agent and customer service.
What happens when you appreciate a brand as much as Hirschhorn does (did) and then it treats you this way? He told me:
the issue is never the issue. It's about how you deal with the issue. I love the flight and the crews. But today was an ambush. Could have been anyone. I'm just passenger X. Issues happen, but give a customer options. They gave me one. Go to the back of the plane or leave.
Airlines, though, too often think they can somehow get away with it.
Not too long ago, I got on a Virgin Atlantic flight, sat in a particularly uncomfortable Economy Class seat, only to discover that there wasn't a seat there at all.
The airline had shoved a thin piece of foam there instead. And no, Virgin didn't warn me.
Hirschhorn, though, is now looking for an alternative to JetBlue. Not that he'll find too much joy with that. It's not as if there's true competition.
Hirschhorn told me JetBlue compounded its lack of communication intelligence. He said:
Their customer service email was copy paste nonsense with a 250 credit and verbiage that made me feel like I should appreciate this.
Oh, we've all had those emails, Jason. They often make things worse.
It would, the airline subsequently told him, have taken four hours to fix the seat. Hadn't the plane had four hours of resting time during the previous six days?
The core customer service learning here is a simple one, according to Hirschhorn:
Customer won't judge on not-often misshaps. But you lie to them and treat them like they're stupid and the customer will hate you. Trust and transparency is everything. Never lie.
A fine piece of advice in many spheres. Politics, for example. Hey, I live to dream.
Update June 20: Hirschhorn told me that he's finally heard from JetBlue: The executive office just called. Offered their apologies. Explained mistakes were made and that it reached them and the CEO and they will always strive to improve. I'm good and will rebook and have faith. That's all I needed."