Mysterious JetBlue Creature Offers Free Tix To Passengers

If you wish hard enough on your next JetBlue trip, maybe the airline’s People Officer will magically appear and hand out free tickets. That’s what happened on David’s flight home over the weekend. To be fair, the free ticket giveaway probably happened because JetBlue asked everyone to show up two hours early due to a computer glitch. It’s still a much nicer airline story than what passengers usually send us. Also, this People Officer hinted to the OP about the airline’s future Wi-Fi plans.

I saw that you wrote about my JetBlue/Twitter/sunglasses experience last week. So I thought you might like to hear what happened on my return trip. It was even more above and beyond.

I got an e-mail from JetBlue saying I should get to the airport two hours early on my return flight because they are overhauling their computer system and might have some glitches. I wasn’t thrilled about that, but whatever. So I got to the airport (Orlando International) two hours early and stood in line. Predictably, it was moving slowly. It was made a little better by the JetBlue rep handing out free water bottles to people in line. That was a nice touch. But then this happened:

Someone from JetBlue came over and made an announcement to the people in line. He was giving away free tickets to anywhere JetBlue flies. The first free tickets would go to anyone whose birthday is today. It was nobody’s birthday. Then he moved on to trivia: free tickets for anyone who knows where JetBlue’s original destinations were. I didn’t hear the answer, because at this point I made it through the line and was headed towards the gate, but I heard applause as I walked away. This was applause from people who had to get to the airport two hours early on a Sunday morning because of airline computer glitches.

It turned out that the same JetBlue guy was on my flight to JFK. He stood up midway through the flight and announced that he had more free tickets to give away. It was nobody’s birthday on my flight, so he moved on to trivia. The first question was: What are the names of all three flight attendants, plus the pilot and co-pilot (you would know if you paid attention to pre-flight announcements)? Someone got that right. He asked a few more questions. Some were standard trivia (“Name all seven dwarfs”) and some were pretty much guessing games (“How old would you guess your flight attendant Juan is?”). I’d say he gave out about a dozen free flights in total. He seemed to really enjoy it.

I spoke with him afterwards, as he walked down the aisle asking if people had any comments about JetBlue. I learned that his name is Dave Clark, and he’s JetBlue’s Chief People Officer. I asked him when JetBlue is getting wi-fi, and he countered by asking if I’d be willing to pay for it. I told him yes, but maybe not for short flights (although I suppose the answer would probably still be yes for short flights, if it was a smaller fee). He said that wi-fi is in their “product plans,” adding that they were also working on new features for their in-flight entertainment system. But he didn’t elaborate on what those were.

Update: JetBlue has written in to us to point out that they’d never be caught dead in the airplane interior I used for the photo illustration. This is what their planes look like. Also, the “arrive early” request wasn’t due to a glitch, but rather was “an extensively planned transition to a new booking system. JetBlue cutover to Sabre on Friday, Jan. 29, 2010. So far, we are satisfied with the performance and we are taking several steps to reduce hold times for specialty desks in our call center. We ask our customers to arrive 2 hours prior to departure for domestic flights and at least 3 hours prior to departure for international destinations, as we gain experience with the new system.”

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(weeta, WexDub)