JetBlue, the quiet benefactor

Check out the walls of most any college and hospital and you’ll see lists of names extolling those who have given in support of the institution. Normally, right at the top there will be several “anonymous” designations commemorating those who have given but desire to remain in the background, not receiving kudos for their generosity.

In the airline industry, where the sharks have taken over, feeding off those who must travel while giving back little, if anything to society, one airline stands out head and shoulders above the rest.

Days of turmoil have roiled the United States recently with the police shootings of several young men. There is no intention here of taking sides on those shootings, but the murder of two policemen sitting in their patrol car is another matter. They were executed by a misbegotten criminal who later took his own life.

As a result, police officers from throughout the United States rallied for their brothers in blue and made arrangements to stand for them in New York at two funerals. All expected to come on their own time and pay for the travel out of their own pockets. They came from every state in the union, Canada and other nations to show support.

Very quietly, with no press releases, no press conference and no “look at what we are doing,” JetBlue Airways, with no fanfare, offered two round-trip tickets to every police department in the United States for officers coming to the funerals.

In fact, when JetBlue was approached for comment about the generosity, spokesman Morgan Johnston simply said, “JetBlue has a long history of providing support to those who serve the communities in which we operate. We are honored to do what we can to support our hometown by making flights available to law enforcement agencies and impacted families across our route network that wish to send representatives to New York.”

And, it must be said, that brief comment came only after a bit of cajoling to the airline. JetBlue was looking to do something to give back and was not looking for a pat on the back.

The police courtesies were repaid by two cops from the Salt Lake City Unified Police Department who came to the aid of flight attendants when a passenger on the return trip became unruly. Following a fight with her husband, the passenger seemed to be suffering from some medical issue. She became combative with the attendants. The cops said she tried to kick and spit at them.

The woman was restrained by the police and the pilot landed in Chicago where she was removed. The flight then resumed its way to Salt Lake City. The three cops happened to be amongst those JetBlue had brought in to New York for the funeral. One good turn deserves another.

JetBlue is truly the “anonymous” name on the wall, up there with those who give but do not look for anything in return.

In an age where airlines have raised fees, charge for checked luggage, advantageous positions on boarding lines, preferred seating, snacks and meals, all of which were provided free of charge not that many years ago, to find one quietly giving back is an anomaly.

We’ve noted in the past that JetBlue takes care of its passengers. Some years back, half of this writing team suffered a broken leg on a trip to Buffalo, New York. Aborting the trip, we arrived at the airport not expecting any special treatment.

JetBlue had been notified of the incident and had a representative waiting at the curb with a wheelchair. The discomfort was rather severe and the representative was quite solicitous in asking if anything could be done to increase comfort.

We were taken on board first and found that our seats had been changed to bulkhead aisle and middle so that there would be room to extend the injured leg. No request had been made for such a change. JetBlue simply thought that it would add to the comfort of the flight and ease the pain.

At JFK, a second JetBlue rep was waiting with a wheelchair, helped collect luggage and then proceeded to the curb. She insisted on waiting until our car arrived and then flatly refused a gratuity. She parted with wishes for a speedy recovery.

If stars were awarded to airlines for consideration of its passengers, JetBlue would rate five stars in our book. JetBlue should not be an anonymous name on a wall. It should be a star on every walk of fame.

Bob and Sandy Nesoff are members of the American Society of Authors and Journalists.

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