October 9th, 2009 by Eric Barkin, Speech Technology magazine

Over the next several blog posts, I’m going to be recounting my experiences with JetBlue’s All-You-Can-Jet pass, a promotion that began about a month ago and was blasted in just about every U.S. news media outlet for nearly a week. I bought one of the airline’s promotional passes. What follows is an account of my relationship with it as it evolved over the course of the last month.

Please feel free to ask questions, leave comments as the Oddessy of the CRM heart and mind begins!

More after the jump!

The Offer and the Decision

September (and part of October) is a big red stain on the airline industry. Not many people want to fly between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, seats go empty and the season usually sees deep discounts on airline tickets before they begin to hit their yearly peaks around the holidays. None of this, of course, is news to anyone. What is news is that JetBlue, perhaps in some razed and half-baked effort perhaps to combat that and build brand awareness, launched its All-You-Can-Jet pass—a pass that allows its bearer to travel as much as he or she likes from September eighth to October eighth to anywhere he or she likes for a flat fee of $599. This includes even the airline’s international Carribean destinations like Barbados; Cancún, Mexico; and Kingston, Jamaica—though they incur the additional international (40 or 50 dollars in many cases).

As soon as it was announced, the deal pounded its way through the airwaves the wires. The Associated Press and Reuters picked up the story from whence it made the rounds in local print and radio reports; major national media outlets like National Public Radio and the Time ran their own stories about it, and that nebulous region known as the “blog-o-sphere” was all a twitter about it (yuk, yuk). After it’s media blitz, everyone (if you’ll allow me this journalistic hyperbole) was trying to figure out: a.) what the hell JetBlue was thinking in making this offer, 2.) whether they—the everyones—had time to make this thing worthwhile, and 3.) where they would even go if they did—regardless of whether they ended up booking or not.

For me, the offer’s start happened to coincide with the sabbatical I’m taking from Speech Technology Magazine to finish my MFA thesis in creative writing. It was too good to be true. It seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to polish off my collection of short stories across America, in all of her most splendiferous public libraries.

I was already a fairly familiar JetBlue customer with about half the points accrued for a free flight from some trips home for the holidays. I wouldn’t say I was particularly loyal to the company. I pretty much fly whatever I can get cheapest—though the airline’s little perks like the TVs in the back of the seats, being able to check one bag for free (I can’t believe this is now a perk), and the ease with which you can navigate their website definitely put it over the top when rates were within a couple of bucks.

Here and there and everywhere (except most places in the interior of the country)

After I found out about the All-You-Can-Jet pass. I spent the next several hours combing through JetBlue’s website: looking at their map and figuring out where they flew, parsing through policies and liability claims of the offer (there had to be a catch, right?), and calling every scattered friend I had along their routes and trying to cobble some kind of massive itinerary out. By the end of it, I knew way more than I probably ever wanted to know about the airline.

Turned out there were some provisos to the pass:

  1. You had to do all your booking over the phone (which was interesting considering how heavily the company tries to get its customers to book through their web portal;
  2. You had to do all your booking at least three days in advance of your trip (you could also cancel and change flights, but, again, three days in advance);
  3. You weren’t allowed to pick up massive miles by flying all around, you only got a flat 35 points for buying the pass;
  4. You couldn’t leave one city and fly back to it in the same day (so no leaving Portland for a Philly for a cheesesteak lunch and being back in time for dinner);and the arch-dreaded
  5. If you missed a flight you were subject to a $100 penalty and JetBlue could revoke your entire pass.

It seemed like none of these would be a problem for me, so I decided to make the call and get one.

Coming in the next post: The Initial Call!

I thought you were a Speech Head. What is with this CRM stuff you turncoat.

Comment by Eddy — — October 10, 2009 @ 8:29 pm

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