January 15, 2024
JetBlue Airways Corp. (Tii:JBLU) has been committed to providing superior customer satisfaction in air transportation since its creation in the late 1990s. Founder David Gary Neeleman created the airline with the intention of building a budget airline whose mission was “bringing humanity back to flying.”
JetBlue was Neeleman’s third airline startup and was initially called NewAir. The new company was launched with a large amount of capital, expert personnel in lead positions and a fleet of new planes. He envisioned a company built on giving travelers what they want: affordable pricing, comfort and positive experiences. Consumers were drawn to the new carrier by attractive offerings including free snacks, free entertainment, and abundant legroom and overhead bin space. Passengers were not offered meals, but instead received gourmet blue potato chips and soda and could sit in leather seats. The expansive in-flight entertainment system provided by a joint venture between the Harris Corporation and Sextant In-Flight Systems included 24 channels of live satellite television broadcasts including A&E, Animal Planet, CNBC, ESPN, the Food Network, Home & Garden and the Weather Channel LiveTV. Customers readily took to the new airline offering tickets that were 65% less than other commercial carriers alongside free checked bags and little to no bumping of passengers.
The company was touted as the first startup airline to be launched in the age of computers. Air Transport World notes that during this time, JetBlue pilots received laptop computers instead of manuals. Neeleman was at home in the tech world and preferred the use of PCs in his home over television. Favoring future thinking and amenities that would set JetBlue apart, Neeleman integrated a “telemedicine” service in his flights, where physicians could provide consultation in flight.
The company’s affinity for technology coupled with extensive experience in booking technology led to the innovative integration of the OpenSkies reservation system in JetBlue operations. As CEO at OS, Neeleman was familiar with the potential of an interface that assisted passengers in making reservations through the internet or touch-tone phones with limited assistance from IT staff. According to ComputerWorld, one of JetBlue’s notable successes using OpenSkies was achieving the second-largest number of internet bookings in the US, behind only Southwest Airlines.
Though JetBlue was impacted by the landscape of a post 9/11 world, like many air carriers, they managed to diffuse the negative impact of this lean time being one of the few airlines to report a profit. The airline announced an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in April 2002. It went on to add 50 new planes, two additional A320s (Airbus), service to Puerto Rico and the ambitious creation of a substantial training center called JetBlue University. Company morale and employee well-being are valued as highly as customer satisfaction at JetBlue.
The mid-2000s were difficult for everyone in the airline industry, but JetBlue regained its former momentum and grew as a solid competitor and innovator. In 2016, JetBlue became the first US airline to fly commercially to Cuba following 50-plus years of suspended flights. The company also began offering transatlantic flights traveling from New York to London and Paris in the 2020s. And while leadership has changed, the company has managed to maintain its focus. JetBlue this month announced that Joanna Geraghty, currently the company’s president and COO, will succeed Robin Hayes as CEO, effective February 12, 2024.
Since its founding, JetBlue has evolved and grown to become the sixth-largest airline in North America and consistently performs well in customer satisfaction surveys. Based on the 2023 J.D. Power North America Airline Satisfaction Study, JetBlue ranked highest in customer satisfaction in the first/business class segment for the second consecutive year. It also ranked in the top three for its premium economy and economy offerings. The carrier transports roughly 40 million passengers per year spanning 100 cities on more than 1,000 daily flights. The company remains laser-focused on its commitment to the customer experience with its most recent luxury travel experience called Mint.
Retail shareholders are watching carefully to see if JetBlue is allowed to acquire competitor Spirit Airlines (Tii:SAVE). The merger is currently in the hands of federal judge William Young, who expects to rule soon on the acquisition. JetBlue says it needs to add Spirit to remain competitive in the industry.
TiiCKER was created for fan-first, brand-first public companies—with exclusive perks served-up weekly to shareholders. Own stock? Connect your brokerage account to view more than 130 perks waiting for you right now!