How JetBlue Can Recover.

Bruce Nussbaum

It breaks my heart to see JetBlue blow it but there are simple ways the airline can win back the hearts of its devoted customers. Clearly, long-term, it has to invest more in operations and be prepared for worst-case scenarios. I knew JetBlue had problems a few months back when I flew and my seat was filthy. But I couldn't have guessed JetBlue would fail so terribly.

There is pressure for Washington to pass a passenger bill of rights so that people can feel they have some recourse if the weather is terrible. They're talking a time limit for being locked in a plane on the tarmac, access to bathrooms and some food and water. Short-term, JetBlue shouldn't wait for legislation to promise this to passengers. It has to go way beyond saying "sorry" and offer those who suffered in the last week something real. I suggest JetBlue offers something surprising as well. For those who were stuck for hours on planes this past week, how about a free roundtrip ticket? And I'd also throw in a Harry & David's fruit basket, just to surprise them and put a smile on their faces. Probably best to date the ticket six months out--assuming the operations problems are fixed by then.

Loyal customers give a lot of slack to companies when they make mistakes. The key is to respect them, solve the problem and offer people some compensation for their aggravation. JetBlue can still save its reputation--if it moves quickly.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.