- JetBlue’s acquisition of Spirit Airlines presents a great opportunity to enhance the low-cost carrier’s customer experience
- Airlines need to humanize air travel and treat their customers as people, not just money.
- Spirit needs to create a seamless experience across all channels to reduce frustration and redundancies.
In a seemingly unequal partnership, JetBlue will buy Spirit Airlines.
One airline is known for its amazing customer focus, while the other is an absolute ultra-low-cost flier. Customer service ratings find these two airlines on opposite ends of the spectrum. In 2022, JetBlue led all airlines with an ACSI score of 79 (4 points above the overall airline industry), while Spirit came last with a score of 63. JetBlue is also a leader in customer satisfaction in many other areas, including JD, Forces and Travel + Leisure. Spirit is not even mentioned.
The acquisition comes at a difficult time for airlines, with frustrated customers, canceled flights and high ticket prices weighing on the industry. Air travel will get worse before it gets better, but the JetBlue-Spirit partnership could present opportunities to improve Spirit’s customer experience and create a larger customer-centric airline.
Here are three CX lessons JetBlue can teach Spirit Airlines that apply to all businesses.
Humanize air travel
The attraction for many Spirit Airlines customers is the extremely low fares. But the price of lower fares often gets nickel and dip in other areas, including paying for drinks, snacks, checked and carry-on bags, and even printing a boarding pass. The process feels formulaic and like Spirit is trying to get as much money out of each passenger as possible, rather than creating an enjoyable experience.
But passengers aren’t just numbers and dollar signs; they are human
Passengers are at the heart of every decision JetBlue makes. The airline takes an empathetic stance by including perks and features that people want, including live TV, spacious seating and onboard WiFi. Rather than skimping on the bare minimum, JetBlue goes above and beyond to make the flying experience for its passengers easier, more convenient, and more comfortable.
There’s a reason JetBlue customers are incredibly loyal – they feel like people when they fly. They’re not just seat assignments or dollar signs, they’re real people.
Create a seamless experience across all channels
Today’s travelers want a seamless experience in every aspect of their flight experience, from booking a flight to collecting their luggage. Nothing makes a trip as frustrating as struggling to access a booking confirmation or boarding pass. JetBlue’s technology-centric approach creates a seamless experience across all channels customers choose.
At every potential obstacle or point of friction there is a proactive digital solution, ranging from kiosks to intuitive apps that offer customers self-service options. The JetBlue app pre-populates each customer’s information, preferences and flights to save on re-entering the same information. JetBlue also uses a unique six-digit PNR for each customer, rather than requiring staff to remember them and keep typing in long ticket numbers.
Through technology leadership, JetBlue creates more efficiency and reduces frustration and redundancies for passengers and employees.
Empower and retain employees
Employees always impact the customer experience, especially when it comes to air travel when so many individual employees can impact or detract from a person’s experience. From gate agents to flight attendants, passengers can sense when employees are enjoying their jobs and wanting to serve customers, not when they’re just there for a paycheck.
JetBlue’s goal of making air travel more humane begins with an internal culture of respect, trust and communication. Every JetBlue employee, regardless of position or seniority, is referred to as a “crew member” to reflect their importance to the company’s overall goal: creating great flying experiences.
Employees are encouraged and empowered to do whatever they can to help customers. Rather than having to follow strict rules, employees can do what they see fit to help customers and provide an amazing experience. Employees receive regular training to keep up to date with current topics, technology and processes so they have the tools to do their job well.
In the highly competitive airline industry, customer experience is often the deciding factor between airlines. As JetBlue and Spirit merge in an unlikely partnership, JetBlue has an incredible opportunity to lead with CX and extend its customer focus to Spirit Airlines.
Blake Morgan is a keynote speaker on customer experiences. She was dubbed “The Queen of Customer Experience” by Meta. Sign up for their weekly email newsletter here.