Now that JetBlue’s off-the-reservation flight attendant is getting ready to do the morning talk show circuit, PR professionals are speculating on what the airline should be doing. The airline has been beneficiary of a lot of positive press because of its early adoption of some social media tools like Twitter and Facebook. But it also took some hits earlier this week with its lawyer-imposed radio silence on the curious incident. The airline clawed its way back with a semi-humorous blog post, “Sometimes the weird news is about us,” that pointed out their personnel confidentiality obligations, even to the miscreant employee, and included a hat tip to all the other employees who behave appropriately.
TMZ has obtained an internal JetBlue email on the topic that is a little harsher, pointing out the serious risk of injury to ground crew members from an unexpected escape slide deployment (they do use a kind of explosive propellant like car airbags, and stuff probably flies out from the surface where the slide is packed, so this is a legitimate concern).
It seems like JetBlue ought to take a very high road here, side-stepping the specifics of the flight attendant’s behavior and focusing candidly on the stresses of air travel for both passengers and flight crews. People are never more rude than when they are in airports. I’ve seen people treat Transportation Security Administration worse than they treat anyone else in the world. I’ve seen passengers bring impossibly stuffed baggage and then insisting on forcing it into the overhead bin when it clearly was never intended to go there, and then getting angry at the airline employees for trying to gate-check it into the luggage hold where it properly belongs.
The airline could occupy the high ground by using its social media cred to engage in a dialogue about how flight crews and passengers can learn to coexist more peacefully, maybe even offering some experts on stress management to give coping tips over Twitter or the blog.
What do you think?