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Friday, September 08, 2006

Jason Ward - A New Hero

Earlier this week I mentioned this story about Jet Blue Airways where a man wearing a t-shirt with Arabic words saying "We will not be silent" was told he would have to change before boarding. In the end a Jet Blue employee gave him another shirt to wear over the offensive shirt.

Just for kicks I decided to email Jet Blue and find out what they had to say about it. This was my email
Has, or will Jet Blue institute a policy against wearing clothing that makes a statement which maybe offensive or concerning to other passengers? If so what will it be and if not, how will Jet Blue handle such situations in the future?
I wasn't sure what kind of response, if any, I would get when I finished typing the message and as I clicked "send" I anticipated the auto responder message to drop in my inbox telling me how grateful Jet Blue was for my question and sometime within the next 90 days I would get a response. Instead I waited, and almost forgot I sent the message, until three days later I got this message back from them.

Dear Matt,
Thank you for giving us an opportunity to address the situation reported on DemocracyNow.org and other sites. Currently, we are working with the TSA to understand the situation. We are gathering information and our initial findings tell us that the request to have him remove his T-shirt was not made by a JetBlue Crew member. We are confident that this investigation will help us all better understand the events of that day.

JetBlue has no policy regarding messages on apparel. We are a family-friendly airline. Anything offensive or vulgar will be discussed with the individual in a sensitive and respectful manner.

Our fundamental responsibility as an airline is to provide safe and secure travel for all of our customers. This requires us to be sensitive to the concerns of all of our customers, while also upholding the rights of the individual. We value diversity, among our customers as well as our crew members. We take our responsibility seriously, and should there be an opportunity to improve our effectiveness, we will take the appropriate action.

We appreciate your interest in this matter as well as your understanding of all our customers' needs. We remain available should you have any further questions or concerns.

Jason Ward
Director Customer Commitment
JetBlue Airways
Still the skeptic, I googled Mr. Ward to see if he really existed. Not only does he actually exist, but he is a bit of a celebrity in his field. As he has been on the lecture circuit with the likes of Malcom Gladwell, Colin Powell and Chip Bell. Sure my response seems to be a bit of a cut and paste job from others who wrote with similar questions, but it does appear he put his personal touch into at least part of the letter.

I've never flown Jet Blue, and despite that, Mr. Ward took the time to reply to me with an answer to my questions. Mr. Ward, you're my new customer service hero.