Executive Group Travel Blog

JetBlue Update - the recent changes to the beloved meetings team

[fa icon="clock-o"] Feb 29, 2016 11:12:00 AM [fa icon="user"] Marci McCormack [fa icon="folder-open'] Incentive Travel

Learning Curve:

Back on November 27th I wrote a blog post about Jetblue being the perfect incentive partner.  Little did I know so much was going to change over the next month.  Only 3 weeks later JetBlue began a transitional period of combining all of their groups, meetings, government and more into one team.  What was two efficient and lovely ladies is now a team of 33 (with 11 additional "trainees" added mid February).  Let's just say this has been a struggle of a transition period and all the good things we wrote about just a few months ago couldn't be any more different.  
Here is our original airline review:


Record-Setting Phone Calls:

The toughest part of the transition is the lack of training and time spent on the phone.  

  • Lack of Training:  This has been extremely apparent on multiple occasions as we had to explain to the JetBlue reps the policies for group flight blocks, refunds, change fees, etc.  One rep even said to me "Well I am sorry there's no way for us to know all of the different policies, with the new group we need to know so many of them."   With a group flight block we sign a detailed contract/agreement which lays out the rules and regulations of the flight block.  It is important for the reps to be aware of these contracts and know the policies.  They were ready to give me credit for the lower fare difference on a deviation until I informed them with our group flight block we do not pay a change fee for up to 10% but we also do not get the lower fare difference.   It's surprising when you, the customer needs to explain to JetBlue reps how the contract works and each policy.   Cue heightened frustration.  Some reps would even ask to call you back after they found an answer, yet you would wait 24-48 hours with no response.  Cue even more frustration.... Okay, we understand transitions and we will be patient for the first few months.... but then problem two started arising.  And patience slowly fades after two hours on the phone... 4 days in a row.  
  • Record Setting Phone Calls:  There are two reasons for these record setting phone calls and neither is hold time.  First the training issue above is one reason the phone calls drag on.  The reps don't know the screens well enough and don't know the policies behind what you are asking them to do.  Most requests end with "let me put you on hold and check with someone."  I am hoping this part improves with training so I will stay hopeful.  The second issue is a larger one and makes me appreciate Becky and Linda even more.   The JetBlue group systems are broken.  For a large airline company it's time to make updates.  I can't tell you know how many times the rep has asked me to be patient as the computer is freezing up given the large reservation we had.  I will be the first to admit we had a robust flight block but for no reason should it ever take 2 hours and 34 minutes in which only 16 minutes was hold time to do four name changes and two Zika Cancellations.  Their solution turned to "you can email us the requests so you don't need to spend time on the phone while we make the updates."  Perfect so the emails start being sent.  24 hours later, no response... 48 hours later an email response with more questions.  Again heightened frustration.  Finally the icing on the cake was the deviation bug.  If you request to deviate one customer from a JetBlue flight block there is no way for the system to send a confirmation.  I was being told the reps were supposed to create custom confirmations but the fact was after 2 weeks of back and forth emails, 3 phone calls regarding the issue we ended up receiving only 3 of the 5 confirmations before the travel dates.  A small thing that creates high level of anxiety for your customers when they don't have any type of confirmation pre-travel.  JetBlue should want large flight blocks but instead their systems are making it harder and harder for travel agencies to want to book.  Just for a simple name change it now takes between 23-40 minutes.  How could Becky and Linda do it in 6 minutes?


The Shining Star:

During this transition period and speaking to over 20 different reps over three months there was one shining star who stood out.  She did all the things you ask for in customer service, if she didn't know the answer, she went to someone else who did, she was patient and helpful, she understood the frustrations and found solutions to fix them.  Thank you Etta for trying to help ease the pain during this frustrating transition time.  

Now don't get me wrong 90% of the JetBlue reps still provide good customer service, are extremely friendly and sympathize with you but unfortunately they are not provided the proper tools and training to be successful in the role they were placed in.  I plea for JetBlue to do what you can to get back to the service you provided for groups.  Your airline made us excited to book flights, now after this past three month experience we have moved away from the JetBlue flight block for our next big event.