4 lessons that brands must learn from the Jet Airways fiasco

Saying sorry is simple. However, brands do not like to own up to their mistake and end up playing a blame game or giving an explanation that might not necessarily address the concern of the customers.

That is exactly what happened with the passengers who flew in Jet Airways Mumbai-Jaipur flight in September.

The flight had to turn back to Mumbai airport midway when the cabin air pressure decreased, and several passengers started feeling suffocated. Five of them even bled from their nose and ears and rushed to the nearby hospital for a checkup.

The passengers were understandably shaken and angry at the mismanagement and the service rendered by the flight staff and took to social media to share their woes.

Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

Later in the day, Jet Airways apologized for the inconvenience. However, the apology did not sound genuine.

Source: Twitter

Even the Twitter users did not seem to be in a mood to accept the apology. The casual tone of the apology irked the passengers even more.

Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

How Should Have Jet Airways Reacted?

As pointed out by Karthik Srinivasan in his blog, Jet Airways should have apologized for the incident upfront. They could have owned up to the mistake and displayed empathy in their apology instead of just providing an update on the events that followed up after the incident or simply regretting the ‘inconvenience.’

They could have apologized in multiple ways:

 #1 – The Netflix Way

Netflix had created quite a furor among its subscribers in 2011 when they announced a separate subscription fee for DVD and streaming by dropping their all-in-one $9.99 subscription. When the CEO Reed Hastings realized the damage that the announcement created, he wrote a letter admitting that they had messed up and went on to announce the decision of starting a separate company called Qwikster that would take care of the DVD-by-post part of the business. Of course, Qwikster shut shop in a few weeks, but the first line of the letter calmed the subscribers, and they were willing to accept the apology. It also catapulted Netflix to the position it has achieved today[i].

In a recent event called Inbound’18, Dharmesh Shah, the CTO, and co-founder of HubSpot said, “Own your screw-ups. We all make mistakes. Say sorry, be sorry and make it better. 96% of people will not leave if you make a mistake and then fix it.[ii]

What could have Jet Airways done?

Admitting that you erred and promising that you would make the experience better would have been a better way of putting the message to the already angry passengers instead of not mentioning the incident at all.

#2 – The JetBlue Airways Way

When the passengers of JetBlue Airways were stranded in tarmac for 11 hours with limited updates, the ex-CEO of the airways, David Neeleman, shot a 2-minute video of him apologizing to the passengers and sharing his thoughts on how he will improve the services and prevent such incidents in future. Considering that, the video came straight from the CEO and was honest and transparent in its approach, customers were willing to forgive them for the fiasco.

Source: YouTube

What could have Jet Airways done?

Customers listen when a top official of the brand such as a CEO talk about the issue and shares updates on how they plan to prevent such fiascos in the future.  As the problem in question was not a minor one (it could have been life threatening too), the leadership should have apologized on behalf of the airlines and issued a statement assuring their patrons of good service. That could have assured the customers of better service in the future.

Four Takeaways from the Jet Airways Fiasco

To err is human, but to apologize genuinely is what makes you a favorable brand among your customers.

Trooya has always stressed upon the fact that brands need to respond in a human manner instead of resorting to templates when a unique situation arises.

Here are four lessons that we believe brands must learn when they have to apologize.

  1. Own up

If you have erred, just own up. Do not mince words or beat around the bush. The fact that you admitted the mistake would help you build trust among your customers.

  1. Display empathy

Apologize in an empathetic and genuine way. A statement such as – ‘we apologize and stand by our customers who had to undergo an unfortunate situation’ would have sounded better than a ‘we regret the inconvenience’ statement. Display empathy when you apologize. It will help in building customer-centricity.

  1. Respond responsibly

In one of our previous blog posts, we stated that brands should not be hasty to clear their name. Never argue or indulge in blame game especially when you have erred. Analyze the situation thoroughly, plan how you want to respond, get it validated by the management, and then respond. A single irresponsible response can cause more damage to the brand than the original incident. So, remember to exercise caution while responding.

  1. Be transparent

Customers have the right to know the reason behind a fiasco or a mistake. So, do not hide the reasons. Be transparent when you respond and promise your customer that you will ensure that such incidents are not repeated in the future. If you have a solution like Netflix or JetBlue Airways, share it with your customers, so they know you are genuinely finding a solution.

Maintaining your brand’s reputation online is of paramount importance. A mismanaged online response solution can affect your reputation as well as affect the search engine ranking of your website. Trooya helps brands to safeguard their reputation through customized online response management solutions. If you are planning to build a positive reputation for your brand online and wondering how to begin, then relax. We can help you with it. Contact us for a free trial.


Writtten for Trooya by Gayathri Vishwanathan.

Leave a Reply