Jet Blue Hoo
The big fiasco at Jet Blue this past week has got me ticked off. Not at the airline, at the whiney passengers. This whole country is spoiled; I’ve known that for a long time. We’ve been raised on entitlements, and I’m not just speaking about help for the disadvantaged. We have heard the word “rights” used so many times that we’ve lost all sense of personal responsibility. Just one example would be the way we respond when the weatherman gets the forecast wrong: Nature dumps on us and we want to shoot the messenger.
Air travel is a wonderful technology, one that has its roots here in the U.S., and one that has gone through tremendous advances in the past century. But we shouldn’t take it for granted. Although air travel is one of the safest modes of transportation, human decision-making is largely responsible for that. Someone has to say how much weight can safely be loaded. Someone has to decide when wings need to be deiced, when fuel tanks need to be re-topped, or if weather will affect the range a plane can fly on a given day.
Wind speeds, wind directions, thunderstorms, temperatures and precipitation all factor in to what a plane and its crew can or can’t do. Schedules are estimates. Once someone asked me why I bothered to schedule my appointments at all and I said it was so I could tell if my clients came early or late. I could have gotten angry, but it wouldn’t have helped.
Getting angry because of a weather-induced snafu on an airplane isn’t going to help either. Yes, it was a gross example of what sometimes happens when we don’t forecast the weather correctly, or when we don’t plan and respond to the weather conditions as they unfold. Something bad happened and Jet Blue couldn’t control it. Yes, people spent eleven hours on the runway. But many passengers had flights that were longer than eleven hours that day. And no one died because of this, nor were the likely to. Perhaps the airline didn’t respond well, but I think that the reason so many people are clamoring for an Airline Passenger Bill of Rights is that they understand it wasn’t entirely Jet Blue’s fault. This could have happened to any other airline just as easily. This is a case where customers can’t just vote with their feet.
When you plan to fly from New Jersey to Nevada, you should be prepared for contingencies. If you can’t afford to buy an extra meal or put yourself up an extra night at a hotel, maybe you really couldn’t afford that trip in the first place. And if the delay ruins your business schedule, perhaps you didn’t really have time to leave your office at all.
I know what Ma Wright said, back at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on that one fateful day: “Those boys are late for supper again!”
David Blaine [7:58 AM]