I did the math recently, and at the half-way point of 2014, I've traveled close to 30,000 miles by commercial airlines so far this year. My work schedule has brought me all across the United States, with the majority of the trips being short one- to two-day business trips.
Some people may envy that, but trust me, it's not as glamorous as it sounds. Knowing you are visiting great American cities, but confined to hotels, airports and airplanes isn't exactly fun travel. But I suppose it could be worse.
I'm not what many would consider the most savvy traveler. I'm not loyal to one airline. I actually just recently decided to start taking advantage of the points and miles programs most airlines offer. But due to the random places I fly on short notice and not really having an allegiance to one particular airline, I probably won't benefit from those programs much.
This year, I've traveled on American Airlines, Southwest, Delta, Jet Blue and Air Tran. I've also had some pretty horrific experiences lately. From being stranded in Atlanta, to missing a connection due to a plane running out of gas and having to land at a different airport to refuel, I haven't had the best luck. But most people would say that's to be expected when you travel. I suppose so.
But several experiences have really stood out in my mind. And all of those experiences were with one airline. Jet Blue. Every time I fly Jet Blue, I continue to be impressed with everything about the experience. In many ways, it's the simple things, but when you're stuck in a metal tube 30,000 feet above the ground for numerous hours, the simple things matter.
I'll start with the Jet Blue mantra, "You above all." That is by far the most brilliant mantra I've heard in a while. Whoever came up with that is a marketing genius, in my humble opinion. It says it all. And the best part about it is Jet Blue really lives up to that.
Let's start with the small things. First and most importantly, leg room. Jet Blue boasts having the most legroom in coach, and if you're like most normal people, that's important. And you can tell as soon as you sit down. I'm not a big person, but the extra space is noticeable and certainly a major factor in a flying experience.
And how about the entertainment? Jet Blue offers free TV and satellite radio on every flight. This may not be a big deal to everyone, but it's something I appreciate. If I want to catch up on the news or watch a baseball game, I can do that. And when you're on a flight several hours long, this matters.
The aspect of flying Jet Blue that I think is most important is the attitude of the employees. This to me is the simplest, yet most impactful thing. Every time I fly Jet Blue, the pilots and flight attendants seem to be so happy. I love it when the pilots come on and provide updates in flight and communicate with everyone. They always take the time to provide relevant information and also point out landmarks to check out as we fly over them. And I love it when the pilots hang out to thank you and say goodbye on your way out of the plane. It shows their genuine appreciation for your business.
On my most recent flight, I took Jet Blue flight 1410 from Jacksonville, Fla., to Boston and overheard one of the flight attendants talking to another passenger. She was telling the customer she just started with Jet Blue two months ago and was explaining how much she loved her job and loved working for the company. She was enthusiastic, friendly and energetic about her career. That says a lot.
On that same flight, the flight attendants announced at the beginning of the flight that due to the loss the United States soccer team just experienced, they would be offering one free drink to everyone. Again, it's the small things that stand out and go a long way.
The stress and pain associated with traveling can often be overcome by the positive attitudes of the airline's employees. This is the simplest thing to do, but for some strange reason, I've run into so many unhappy and rude people working for airlines that Jet Blue truly stands out.
Lastly, as I was writing this column, I was curious to see if my opinion on Jet Blue was shared by others. After doing some research, I wasn't surprised to learn that Jet Blue was ranked number two in 2013 in the Airline Quality Rating study released in April. Virgin America was ranked number one, but in fairness to them, I haven't flown them in more than five years.
So to the Jet Blue team, know that your commitment to providing an exceptional and positive travel experience does not go unnoticed. It's refreshing and very much appreciated.
Christopher Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes Closing the Deal weekly. He is the vice president of sales and services for leadership solutions at Skillsoft, a Nashua-based provider of learning solutions. Visit Skillsoft at www.skillsoft.com.