How JetBlue Successfully Managed Flight 191 Crisis
Last week a JetBlue pilot suffered a nervous breakdown mid-flight. The pilot, Clayton Osbon, frantically exited the cockpit and began shouting that the plane was about to crash. According to JetBlue passenger, Gabriel Schonzein “He [Osbon] started screaming about Al Qaeda and possibly about a bomb on the plane and Iraq and Iran and about how we are all going down.”
The co-pilot locked Osbon out of the cockpit because of his erratic behavior. As Osbon was trying to break into the cockpit four passengers apprehended him. After subduing Osbon for 30 minutes the plane landed safely in Armarillo, Texas.
Although the plane landed safely and nobody on-board was hurt JetBlue’s reputation did not go unharmed. Many customers began questioning JetBlue’s medical screening process and the legitimacy of the brand.
Once the flight finally landed JetBlue’s employees communicated directly to their stakeholders through its blog BlueTales. JetBlue used the blog to update their stakeholders on the incident and hopefully ease their minds. JetBlue also used the blog to respond to the most frequently asked questions.
The next day JetBlue CEO, David Barger went on The Today Show to address the public. During Matt Lauer’s interview Barger stated that he knew Osbon and that the captain was a “consummate professional.” Barger also discussed the heroic efforts of those on-board flight 191 and spoke of JetBlue’s plan to work with the FAA to review the company’s screening policies and what let to the entire event that day.
5 Reasons How JetBlue Successfully Managed The Flight 191 Crisis
JetBlue successfully limited the amount of damage that was done to the brand. Here are five reasons how JetBlue successfully managed this crisis:
1. Having a Crisis Communication Plan
Based on JetBlue’s immediate response to Flight 191’s incident it appears that they were prepared for the situation. It’s important to have a crisis communication plan in place because crises are abnormal events that can be predicted but are not expected when they occur. By planning for this crisis in advance JetBlue was able to respond quickly in an organized and strategic fashion.
2. Saw The Media As Allies
JetBlue saw the media as potential allies in this situation based on David Barger’s willingness to appear on The Today Show. JetBlue and Barger realized that they could use the media to carry their message in a time of crisis.
3. Avoided Stonewalling
In a world of real time media JetBlue understood the importance of communicating the facts directly to their stakeholders. Instead of responding by “no comment” JetBlue took to their blog to update their stakeholders about the incident. By communicating directly with their stakeholders in a timely fashion JetBlue was able to control any rumors that might have developed.
4. JetBlue Stayed On Message
During David Barger’s interview with Matt Lauer there were plenty of times for him to get off message but he didn’t. Instead Barger did a great of staying on message.
5. Corrective Action
To ensure that a crisis like this never occurs again JetBlue discussed some corrective actions that it would be implementing. The first and most obvious correction that JetBlue made was suspending Osbon for his mid-flight meltdown. Second, Barger noted that JetBlue would be reviewing their screening process and what led to the entire event on that day.
The company also refunded flight 191’s passengers and issued a voucher for twice the original amount of the ticket. In addition, JetBlue crewmember were given time off and resource were made available to them.
What do you think of JetBlue’s response to this crisis? Do you think there are things that they could have done better? We want to know your opinion.