This past Monday saw the official opening of the JetBlue Lodge at OSC, a 196-room hotel adjacent to the company’s training and support center in Orlando (and brought me along for the party). The focus of the facility is to immerse new hires in the JetBlue culture as soon as training begins. Rather than dispersing back to area hotels after the close of the training day the employees will check in at The Lodge where rooms are comfy and quaint, but also a touch compact. The goal is to get employees interacting with each other outside of the training hours, socializing and learning in an informal manner. Or, put another way, drinking the Blue Juice from day one.
I still don’t know what the recipe is for the Blue Juice. I asked JetBlue’s SVP safety, security & training Warren Christie and what I got was an answer about the training process, not the cafeteria. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Actually, the answer I got was great in the context of the company culture. But I mostly meant the question as a joke. Oops.
Speaking to the JetBlue culture, I feel like it might be worth sharing the tale of my trip home from the event. Delays into NYC in the evening are not all that uncommon. And, per usual, the pilot came out just before departure to address the cabin and noted no delays; I was a bit surprised as I had already seen some on the web app and from Kayak & TripIt but figured maybe they had been squashed. Nope. We were still delayed. Only 60-90 minutes but that’s the way it was.
He mentioned the 3-hour rule and explained that we were staying at the gate to satisfy that but also noted that we were free to step off the plane if desired. Flight Attendants immediately began handing out free headphones (normally $3) to anyone who wanted them and then did a water & snacks run through the cabin while we were on the ground. And the Captain was helping the entire time. He made frequent announcements from in the cabin rather than in the flight deck. He coordinated with catering and helped move stuff around in the galley. He searched out connecting passengers and personally spoke with those who had tight connections and played liaison between them and the gate agents who were checking rebooking options. And, at one point, a non-rev from the CorpComm department was in the aisle helping with trash collection.
I try not to drink the kool-aid too much but I’ve long believed that the vibe when flying on JetBlue is different. Coming out of the new training facility (where I did drink a couple glasses of the Blue Juice; still no idea what’s in it) and seeing that immediately on display was a fresh reminder that good service does exist in air world. And it is much more common in some places than others. Also, team work really is much better than the alternatives. And I know that this doesn’t happen on every JetBlue flight (I’ve been on more than my share) and that other airlines occasionally have similar. But it seems more common to me on JetBlue.
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