AOL Mystery Flyer: JetBlue Report Card

Posted Apr 23rd 2010 01:17 PMUpdated Sep 1st 2010 07:58 AM

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No hot food, no pillows and blankets, and on some flights, no complimentary water. What's left? The one thing that can turn a long, meal-less coach flight from an ordeal to a joyride is...friendliness: helpful airline personnel and flight attendants with a positive attitude.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be traveling coast-to-coast on ten of our country's busiest airlines as AOL's Mystery Flyer. And I'll be looking to answer one really important question: Is there a price for nice?



Read on to see how JetBlue scored on yesterday's flight to Richmond, VA.


How It Works:

After each of the ten flights I'm taking over the coming weeks, I'll judge the airlines on six areas of customer service, using a scale of one to five. My goal along the way is to be an average passenger with normal travel requests and questions. In no way am I going to bother flight attendants and airline personnel with unusual demands; I know these are very busy people. I'm not looking to push airline staff to the limit, but simply to judge their friendliness during the most common travel interactions faced by the flying public on a routine flight.

Here's how to decipher my 1-5 rating system:

1/5 means a flat out rude reaction to my requests
2/5 means an unfriendly reaction, although not necessarily rude
3/5 means a neutral reaction to my requests
4/5 means a friendly reaction with a smile
5/5 means friendly customer service that goes that extra distance
1. Operator's response to pre-flight requests (such as a seat change) when I called the airline's toll-free number the day of departure.
4/5: It's hard to judge friendliness over the phone, but the operator was apologetic for my long hold time and patiently answered all my inquiries about seat change, in-flight entertainment and baggage allowance with no sign of exasperation and no rush.

2. Friendliness of the ticketing agent during the check-in process at the airport.
5/5: I was subjected to a bit of a wait in line at the full-service check-in counter. But the service was remarkably friendly and, again, very efficient. I asked a long string of typical questions (about food, entertainment, baggage, the gate, my seat, etc.) and was met with eye contact and a complete response, along with a few smiles as well. What's the harm, right? I had the feeling the employee liked his job (or at least didn't hate it), and he made me feel like the valued paying customer that I am. Changing my seat was no problem and I was given an aisle at the front of the plane. Feeling unrushed by the ticket agent meant a lot to me, as I felt at ease to ask any questions I had, no matter how basic they were.

3. Friendliness of the gate agent when I request a seat change prior to departure.
4/5: The gate agent was involved in some paperwork when I went to the counter to ask her for a seat change. She made eye contact then looked for a seat and quickly informed me the flight was full. As I continued with questions, she put down her papers and listened and answered. She wasn't going overboard with the smiles but it didn't matter -- it was clear she was busy preparing the manifest, but she made me feel like my questions were valid and answered them with patience.

4. Friendliness of flight attendants to my requests for a blanket, an extra beverage and anything else I might need during the flight.
5/5: Once I found my seat on board, I realized there was no space in the overhead bin. I started to look around and before two seconds had passed, the flight attendant offered to take my heavy bag for me and find space for it a few rows behind my seat. The captain stood at the front of the plane and talked on the PA to explain our delay; he apologized profusely, saying that there would be a free offering (it turned out to be headphones for the entertainment system, which usually cost $2). His personal tone added to the warm and fuzzy vibes, and I got the feeling he was genuinely sorry we'd been delayed an hour switching gates. Once the service started, the flight attendants (both male) were very efficient and friendly, greeting people with "Hello" before asking for their drink orders. (I liked how they were friendly but not robotic.) And later, when I asked for another drink while the flight attendant was walking down the aisle with a trash bag collecting old cups, he dropped what he was doing and went to get me one.

5. Friendliness of general interactions between airline personnel and other passengers that I observed during my travels.
5/5: It's my job to eavesdrop on interactions with fellow passengers, and everything I observed showed friendliness to others, as it had been to me. While waiting to board, the JetBlue gate staff kept us constantly informed about what was happening with the gate change and delay, and as a result there wasn't a long line of stressed passengers waiting to talk to them. Onboard, the flight attendants seemed laid-back but professional, chatting with passengers about the NFL draft and helping assure an anxious woman who had wandered to the front that a wheelchair would be waiting for her on arrival.

6. Friendliness of gate agent upon arrival when I ask for help finding a connecting flight or the baggage claim.
5/5: When I disembarked from the plane, I realized there was no gate agent outside, as it was not a connecting city. So I went back against the flow of exiting passengers and re-entered the jetway to find an agent to ask a random question. She didn't balk at my re-entry and waited for my request, which was: "How do I find ground transportation here?" (Totally random, right? I mean, surely I could find that out at baggage claim or at some service desk away from the jetway.) Instead, she made eye contact, smiled and told me my options -- all while waiting for the passenger who needed the wheelchair to emerge from the plane.





My journey isn't over yet. Follow me on Twitter as I go undercover to see how America's most popular airlines rate when it comes to service in the sky. Questions? Comments? Thoughts? Join the conversation by ending your tweet with #spyinthesky




Filed Under: Air Travel

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Charlie

The only time I DON'T fly Jet Blue is if the ticket is FREE--and sometimes not even then. I am a retired Firefighter/Paramedic, and have seen the crew work with incredible efficiency, taking direction from me on more than a few in-flight emergencies (stroke, seizure, heart attack,etc.) They have contributed greatly assisting me on these difficult occasions, and I would be comfortable with any member of my family flying Jet Blue. The entire operation of the airline is better than any other I have seen. 5 of 5.

August 26 2010 at 3:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
LENNY

I READ SOME OF THE COMMENTS AND I NOTICE NO ONE MENTIONED ANY THING ABOUT SKYCAPS, THOSE ARE THE
ONES THATS GETTING THE REAL REAMING AT JETBLUE.
WHAT USE TO BE TIPS FOR THOSE GUYS IS NOW A CHARGE
THAT GO TO THE AIRLINE. SKYCAPS BEEN AROUND FOR
AS LONG AS THE AIRLINE AND THEY ALWAYS HELP
THAT EXTRA MILE.WHEN WE STOP HAVING THOSE GUYS JUMPING IN AND OUT OF CAR TRUNKS,ASSISTING PASSINGERS
AND YOU KNOW WHAT ALL ELSE.NOW THOSE GUYS SHOULD START GETTING WHAT THEY DESERVE AND THE AIRLINE SHOULD STOP TAKING THEIR TIPS. YES THE AIRLINE IS ALSO IN THE TIP BUSINESS.BUT SKYCAPS ARE FADING AWAY.

June 01 2010 at 12:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Piper

I have found Jet Blue to be by far the best airline. Not only are they pleasant and very accommodating but usually have the best fares. I would pay the little bit extra to fly Jet Blue if there were another cheaper.

June 01 2010 at 12:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Charlotte

I am a TRUE fan of JetBlue, the only reason for me to use another airline, would simply be because JetBlue does not fly there. I wish JetBlue would add more cities to their flight plan.

June 01 2010 at 12:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
elise

JetBlue seems nice because of the TV's and leather seats. That is a big plus and I fly them often. Lately, those perks are seeming less and less important because how unfriendly they seem and how hard it is to get them on the phone. Hearing from the guy above that their equipment is not safe (IDK if that is true) is enough to make me not chose them the next time. I find most of the staff very unfriendly.

May 31 2010 at 11:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ken

Here in Brasil we have AZUL same owners and same great service
Now if they could just connect the dots from here to USA

May 20 2010 at 9:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
EA

JetBlue is the absolute best. I got into a car accident on my way to the airport and missed my flight. Because of insurance and all that I had to rebook my flight for a year later. I figured I was pretty much screwed when it came to changing my flight, especially since my flight had already departed by the time I got to call JetBlue. They were completely sympathetic to my situation and after about a 12 minute phone conversation they completely refunded my departure flight. The didn't deduct any charges. I am so grateful to JetBlue because they were extremely generous. Any other airline would have screwed me. I will be flying them whenever humanly possible.

May 02 2010 at 11:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JERRY F

AMEN

May 02 2010 at 8:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Arseno

Yes I agree with the comment made regarding french european Airbus as Jetblues aircraft type, I prefer to fly airlines who use Boeing aircraft for safety record and supporting American worker's. I don't appreciate airlines who do not support the USA as well as move customer service off shore, further insult purchasing foreign made aircraft is another major negative. I say support JOBS in the USA. (Fly Southwest atleast, they fly Boeing 737's, safe and the biggest selling aircraft in the world.)

April 30 2010 at 12:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Richard Dohack

It's really enjoyable to read posts made by polite people. Too often people are calling one another "idiots" or worse, because they happen to have a different opinion. Seems like folks who fly a lot are more friendly. Good for you!

April 28 2010 at 12:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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