Airlines Battle over Buzzwords

airline marketing

JetBlue and now Delta Airlines are offering “humanity” as part of their service and that’s kind of an issue for JetBlue. They wrote the phrase “bringing humanity back to air travel,” right into their Customer Bill of Rights. It has been there for several years. Now in recent Delta ads the same phrase appears.

Delta explains, they never meant to copy anything, and it just seemed like a phrase that fit their recent efforts. Michael Thomas, the spokesman for Delta said, they never set out to specifically highlight “humanity.” “The phrase succinctly captures Delta’s efforts to improve food and beverages, customer service, and onboard products,” he said.

But in August, Delta did it again when it gave flight attendants handheld devices to help with customer service and said they had done so “while endeavoring to bring more humanity to the skies.” So we wonder if Delta is doing this deliberately, a cunning move – or really didn’t make the connection, implying they aren’t savvy enough to know what their competitors are doing.

Where does all this humanity come from? Well, probably as a countermeasure to everything else many of the airlines are doing, like charging for checking in baggage, cutting back on the already limited leg space, herding people like cattle, charging for carry-ons, and providing fewer perks. With all of that happening, is it really being humane to simply offer good service and be willing to sell more onboard products?

That seems to be JetBlue’s point when they offer their version of humanity, first included in their efforts when the company was founded in 1999 and steadily increased and improved since then. The phrase in question was added to their repertoire in 2007 after a service breakdown from an ice storm that stranded thousands of passengers on planes and airports.

They changed a lot so they would be prepared if something like that ever happens again. JetBlue points out they have consistently worked to improve the customer’s experience, being the first to add leather seats, and the first to put screens in the back of seats. They also offered diagram instructions cards for people on their flight with yoga and Pilates moves that can be done in an airline seat to ease aching muscles.

With Delta’s choice, they’ve given JetBlue a forum to remind their customers of all they’ve done in the name of “humanity.” While still choosing to take the higher ground and not take legal action or make a big deal, Doug McGraw, a JetBlue spokesman said they trust their customers to know the difference and prefer to make the customer experience “even better.”

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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