JetBlue tries to hold on to what made It JetBlue as it enters next phase
The next few weeks will be big ones for St. George and JetBlue as the airline unveils its new fare lineup, including bag fees.
Marty St. George was standing in JFK’s Terminal 5 on Tuesday, wearing a black pinstriped suit, his airport credentials dangling on a lanyard with the words “Red Sox” emblazoned on it, and he was talking to a couple of reporters about what’s obviously his pride and joy, the terminal.
St. George, who became JetBlue’s Executive Vice President Commercial and Planning in February, obviously emitted the aura of being “somebody” of import and a JetBlue passenger who was having some issues, instinctively recognized it.
The woman was having a stressful airport moment as she approached the group of four, including airline spokesperson Doug McGraw, the upbeat St. George and the two journalists. But she focused on St. George, the authority figure in the suit.
“Hablas español?” she asked.
“Un poco,” said St. George, who’s listed seventh in the pecking order on JetBlue.com’s leadership page.
First Things First
St. George was there to brief the two reporters on a few things but he left us and took off with the somewhat-distressed JetBlue passenger following him when it became clear that his “un poco” Spanish just wasn’t going to be adequate.
Five or 10 minutes later St. George reappeared after having found someone to help out the woman, who ambled behind him at a pace that was a helluva lot slower than American Pharoah’s, to say the least. It turns out the passenger hadn’t been able to locate her husband. Problem resolved, apparently.
One of the two journalists quipped that St. George and McGraw must have set the whole thing up. The anxious passenger had to be a ringer. The incident was too good to be true.
They laughed it off.
A JetBlue-Run Terminal
St. George then continued where he left off, extolling the virtues of JFK’s T5, which opened in 2008 with JetBlue as its steward. With its dozens of restaurants, retail outlets, and kiosks, including one selling Amazon Kindle Fire tablets to mark a recent JetBlue-Amazon Fly-Fi partnership, St. George emphasizes that the airline put most of its investment in the terminal into areas that passengers can actually view and appreciate.
He points to the terminal’s roof, which has unadorned and exposed steel beams, resembling a jungle gym, as an example of where JetBlue’s money didn’t go. St. George assures the reporters that despite the ceiling’s Spartan look, it is structurally solid.
Speaking of appearances, St. George could end up much in the spotlight over the next few weeks as JetBlue, according to statements by executives in earnings calls, is expected to roll out its branded fares. These will likely include a fee for the first checked bag for some passengers. Barring changes, JetBlue has stated that the new fare scheme would be rolled out in the second quarter, which ends June 30.