In February, JetBlue announced its Promise Program, which offers full refunds to JetBlue customers who are laid off. Now the airline is expanding this timely and very customer-friendly policy to include vacation packages. The program rules are, once again, a bit convoluted, so I’ll copy and paste them here:
“Customers who book JetBlue Getaways vacation packages between Feb. 1 and June 1, 2009 with travel scheduled for any time through the airline’s current for-sale schedule and who lose their job on or after March 17 may be eligible for The JetBlue Getaways Promise Program. Customers must notify JetBlue and request a full refund at least 14 days prior to the first date of travel. For packages that include travel or hotel stay on November 25-28, 2009 or December 17, 2009-January 2, 2010, request for a refund must be received by fax no later than 60 days prior to the scheduled departure date of the outbound flights (a).”
Like last time, passengers can request a refund for up to nine people traveling on an itinerary, as long as the requester paid for all travel. One interesting difference to note is the special requirements for Thanksgiving and Christmas travel—you need to send in your paperwork 60 days in advance instead of 14.
So far, I haven’t seen any other domestic airlines offering a similar refund. In fact, Hyundai and Norwegian Cruise Line are the only other major companies I know of with this kind of program. Which begs the question: Why haven’t other airlines copied JetBlue’s idea? Well, probably because it means a potential loss of millions if a lot of customers are laid off. (Which, when you think about it, is a good reason.)
But the benefits here seem to outweigh the risks. Not only is a program like this great PR (that’s the cynic in me talking), but it’s a legitimate good-faith effort on JetBlue’s part to work with its customers, many of whom, like most of us, are surely struggling. JetBlue needs passengers, but its passengers need to be careful with their money, so JetBlue offers security in exchange for a booking—sort of a you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours agreement. In the end, everyone’s happy, and that, my friends, is how you build customer loyalty.