Winging South (but not on Jet Blue)

It is 8:30am, and I am sitting in the Business Class section of a 7:30 am American Airlines flight to Miami. I was delighted to learn there is onboard wifi/internet. It will a race to see if this iBook G4 battery dies before the “all electronic device must be stowed” announcement is made.

A few years ago, my firm required lots of travel, and so I flied Jet Blue as much as possible. New planes, good crews, timely service and reasonable fares were only part of the appeal. To an easily bored and restless person (like me) the kicker was the onboard entertainment — 50 channels of TV plus 4 movies to choose from. It made the chore of traveling much more tolerable.

Then something funny happened: We were combining a business trip to California (Santa Rosa, North of San Francisco) with a pleasure trip thru the vineyards of Sonoma and Napa. The onboard movie was Sideways –perfect for our jaunt thru wine country. We hadn’t seen it yet, saw the great reviews, and were looking forward to it.

Then came the line — F%&king Merlot! — that sent Merlot sales down by 40% for the next few years.

Only that wasn’t the line we heard on Jet Blue: Instead, it was “Friggin Merlot.”

I was aghast — it ruined the film. You are left wondering what else was cut out, how much you missed. As soon as we landed, I fired up Amazon, and ordered a 9″ Panasonic portable DVD player.

I still don’t understand the editing of the movie, nor have I ever heard a good explanation why this is done: Its an R-Rated film, that only adults can order with their credit cards. Its on a seatback, its heard thru headphones, why mess up the seminal line of the film? What was the point of this artistic blasphemy?


But here’s the interesting corporate aspect: I still fly a lot — but not nearly as much as I used to with Jet Blue.

I have both the laptop and the DVD player. I brought a few movies, the first season of Entourage, and the Best of Larry Sanders.

Its weird, but with that inexplicable film edit, Jet Blue lost their competitive advantage as a carrier for me

I wonder: What other bonehead corporate moves have cost firms revenue and sales by alienating their key customers? Are they explainable, defendable, even rational?

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