JetBlue customer service: As smart as a rhinoceros

Apparently being as smart as a rhino is a good thing in the customer service world. At least this story posted on FastCompany would have you believe so. The short of it is that rhinos have learned to sacrifice potential safety from predators to get a better tasting meal and that JetBlue has learned to provide credits to customers when there is a service failure without requiring certificates, codes or paperwork.

But JetBlue’s approach is a splendid example of what Martha Rogers and I are trying to explain in our new book Extreme Trust. This company is proactively trustworthy. It’s trustable. It proactively watches out for its customers’ interests, even though doing so means it must give up the immediate financial benefit it used to get from breakage. In other words, JetBlue is paying real money to gain the trust of its customers, and customer trust is the “food” it wants for its ongoing business. JetBlue has obviously concluded that the value represented by this trust exceeds the “cost” of giving up the breakage.

Having been the beneficiary of the JetBlue Travel Bank system a couple times I have to agree that it is much better than any other carrier I’ve had similar credits with. That said, I’m not so sure that it is truly evolutionary. The author makes a good point that customers could reasonably begin to expect better service from airlines when one of them is able to meet such demands seemingly without issue. But until there is actually a trend forming a single data point doesn’t mean too much, at least not across the whole industry.


Do these sorts of actions make you trust a company more? Enough to shift business towards them? I definitely chose JetBlue on purpose for the trip I’m on right now but their Customer Service Bill of Rights was not part of the consideration matrix for me at all.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. They should spend their time and resources improving the service you want instead of on a credit system to reward you when they dont provide the service. Failure management reward bypass systems miss the point, and fixing the problem….they institutionalize service failure.

    1. I completely disagree, Joe.

      There are always going to be failures. Those have to be dealt with well. And anything a company can do to make those dealings appear seamless and customer-friendly is a good thing. Wholly foregoing a service recovery system would be a disastrous approach.

  2. I’ve used the Travel Bank successfully before but you’re right, it’s not revolutionary. I’ve had great success with Delta’s credits, and those are nice because they’re linked to my Skymiles acct.

  3. I think you may be missing the point, Joe; JetBlue is always working on ways to improve reliability. Any disruption is examined to figure out how it might be prevented in the future. As with ANY infrastructure, however, there will always be risk of the unexpected impacting the customer experience. It’s how those unexpected situations are addressed that reflect on attention to service.

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