Unless you have been hibernating (I wouldn't blame you), you know about the mess that resulted from blizzards in the Northeast a few days ago – on city budgets, on the cities' residents, and – most "loudly" – on the airline industry.
Lee tweeted a NYTimes article a few days ago called For Some Travelers Stranded in Airports, Relief Is in 140 Characters. It was perfect timing, because at that exact moment, I was writing this blog post.
I kept hearing about thousands of flights being canceled and people sleeping at airports. I figured my 12/29 JetBlue flight from Florida to New York would be okay, since it was a full four days after the storms, and every flight from 2 days prior to mine between the two airports seemed fine - at worst, a few delays here and there.
Wrong. At 2.30 am my phone rang – a JetBlue robot telling me that my flight was canceled.
I was on hold for two hours and fifteen minutes, trying to re-book. Finally I was told that the earliest possible flight for me was on the 3rd of January, 5 days later. I went back to sleep at 5.30 am, delirious.
The following morning, I was furious. I laughed at the irony that after boycotting JetBlue (I was directly affected by their 2007 crisis) and taking a few cautious maybe-we-can-be-friends-again flights 4 years later, this happened. I considered a lot - paying close to $500 for an earlier flight on another airline, renting a car and driving two and a half days, taking a train. I heard about another guy on my flight that had put himself on a standby list and flown to New York an hour later. I tweeted.
I combed Bing Travel. I was hung up on by JetBlue's support call center. I searched CheapTickets. I planned around the day of work (and four days of sanity) I would be missing. My phone rang.
"Hello, is this Johanna? This is Jeff with JetBlue, and I might have some good news for you."
Jeff told me that he would be able to get me on a flight at 9am the next morning. I was utterly confused and asked him why he called me, of all people on that canceled flight. Turns out Jeff Hofmann manages their Twitter account. He saw my tweet of desperation, looked me up in JetBlue's system, found that one seat, looked up my phone number, and called me personally. He said that he would have DM'ed me but was too worried the seat would go before we could speak. I was so stunned I almost cried on the phone to him.
And there you have it, folks. Jeff single-handedly restored my faith in the airline, saving them from another 4-year boycott. I knew JetBlue had a social media strategy and knew what they were doing, but I honestly never thought someone handling a Twitter account could have the power to do something as big as changing a flight reservation for someone. This level of personalized service went above and beyond what I ever thought a Fortune 1000 company could be capable of. Well done, guys. My doubt for you has gone out the window.
And: Happy New Year, everyone!