And not just JetBlue. American Airlines suffered the same thing about a month ago – keeping passengers on a plane, on the tarmac for 7 hours.
Somewhere in this mess, you have to wonder where the common sense went. Airline pilots may be union members, but they aren’t stupid.
Scenario: You have a plane on the runway. After an hour, you would expect that your customers (you know, those passenger people in the back) are frustrated, tired, dehydrated, ticked off and who knows what else.
Think about it. Airliners are uncomfortable enough as it is. Stuffy, hard narrow seats, surly service (mostly). Sharing a metal tube in that environment with 200+ of your “closest friends” for ELEVEN hours is enough to cause a mutiny.
Frankly, the inability of the airline pilot to simply pull back to the gate (permission or otherwise) and give ground ops an ultimatum: “Hello, Major Tom to Ground Control (apologies to David Bowie). Move the jetway up against my plane’s door or I deploy the emergency chutes, your choice. You have 2 minutes.” was simply an illustration of the weak sheep mentality that people are pushed into these days.
Employees need to be ENABLED, not turned into sheep who cant make a decision because you havent given them the authority, or wont make a decision for fear of reprisal. Give them the tools and power to do their job – taking care of your most prized possession – the customer.
Airline management knows this kind of stuff happens. 100 years from now, my grandkids will be reading the MoonTodayÂ and wondering why someone stayed on the USS Enterprise IV that was forced to sit on the Tranquility Base tarmac (or something like that). Unless of course management gets with the program.
Training the pilots to sit on the tarmac like good little boys for 3, 6 or 11 hours at a time, and cowtow to airport ground operations is a ridiculous waste of pilot intelligence and customer loyalty. Those pilots need to be enabled and trained to make the decision to do what’s best for their clients.
Sure, airports are uncomfortable places to sit around for 11 hours, but they’re far more comfy than a jetliner. Get an Amex Platinum ($300/year at present), then you at least can hang out in the various airline lounges (Delta, Northwest, Continental, perhaps a few more) in relative peace.
What are you failing to enable your staff to do and take care of? Do they have to wait until you return from a trip to Office Depot in order to make a decision to keep a client happy? I hope not. That isnt customer service.