Looking back at JetBlue’s crisis

Social media and responsiveness helped turn the tide of negative coverage, says the airline’s VP of corporate communications.

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It was nearly a year ago this week when JetBlue Airways’ operational meltdown became an invaluable case study in crisis communications for companies and public relations professionals

We all remember it—an ice storm in the Northeast left passengers stranded on the runway for hours at a time while flights were cancelled across the country on Feb. 14 during one of the year’s busiest travel weekends.

14: Number of national TV interviews that CEO David Neeleman gave on Feb. 20

31: Number of airplanes that were out of position on the second day of the crisis

1,700: Number of flights cancelled in the span of six days

5,000: Number of media calls fielded by the corporate communications team

35 million: Estimated total cost, in U.S. dollars, of the JetBlue crisis

300 million: Number of critical mention impressions in the days following the crisis

During the following six days, JetBlue cancelled a total of 1,700 flights and endured a media onslaught. The press closely followed the rising tide of complaints and the chaos at the airline’s airport gates, as JetBlue became the biggest news story of the week.

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