Ten years after its first flight to Puerto Rico, JetBlue has reached an agreement with the government’s port authority to expand its presence at the airport in San Juan and better accommodate its increasing services, which today amount to 14 non-stop destinations between the continental US and the Caribbean island.
The carrier’s move from Terminal C to Terminal A at the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport will allow JetBlue to operate in a new and larger facility with additional counter space and gates.
The airline released a statement from Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño that said the government was pleased with the growth and addition to service that the move would bring and served as a means of expanding the tourist and business sectors, consistent with the economic policies of his administration.
“Paying attention to our customers’ needs and bringing back integrity, caring and safety to air travel have resulted in great response from our Latino passengers,” Chad Meyerson, JetBlue’s global sales director, told VOXXI.
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This year alone, the airline has added new service to Newark, NJ and West Palm Beach, Fla., from Puerto Rico. It has also filed a “capital-to-capital” application for a slot exemption to launch new non-stop service from Washington D.C. to San Juan.
Meyerson believes Latino travelers’ loyalty to JetBlue is a response to a streamlined marketing strategy that includes hiring local crews in every destination, acculturating their service, getting established in the community and assuming their corporate responsibility.
“We do not pour millions of dollars in advertising,” Meyerson said. “We found that providing excellent service and making a commitment to the communities we serve is our best branding strategy and allows us to keep our costs down.”
Starting with a local manager, the carrier — which employs more than 13,000 crew members — hires and trains bilingual crews who are capable of interacting with and catering to their passengers’ requests. The airline takes care of every detail possible from serving café con leche, unlimited snacks and drinks on flights to the region, to offering a “mirror” website in Spanish where Hispanic customers can find the same level of information and service English-speaking customers do – a rare feature in the industry.
On the ground, the airline reaffirms its commitment to the community by partnering with local organizations in the areas of education, health and disaster response, encouraging crew voluntary work and flying supplies and doctors to disaster areas in the Caribbean.
Recently, JetBlue has broken ground to build a playground in San Juan.
Partnering with KaBOOM!, a U.S.-based non-profit organization with a vision of creating places where children can play within walking distance of their homes, and Apoyo Empresarial para la Península de Cantera, a non-profit organization that works to improve the conditions of those living in the neighborhood of the Cantera Península in San Juan, the carrier is building its 13th playground and the first outside the United States.
“This is JetBlue’s first playground built outside of the mainland U.S. and in the Caribbean — but not the last,” Meyerson said. “The company is here for the long haul and we will continue to serve the region because we see increasing customer response.”
The airline continually measures customer loyalty, which has won them numerous customer satisfaction awards and recognitions among low cost carriers such as JD Power and Associates, Zagat and SmarterTravel Readers’ Choice Awards among others. They also survey customers informally at check-in, boarding gates, on their website, and on social networking sites like Twitter where they have 1.9 million followers and on Facebook where they have 600,000 fans.
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Meyerson, who has worked with the airline since 2003, currently oversees both corporate and leisure sales. A fluent Spanish-speaker, he also supports all government and tourism relationships in JetBlue’s growing Latin American and Caribbean market, which now accounts for over 25 percent of JetBlue’s network of over 65 destinations in the United States, Caribbean, Central and South America.
“I have flown to many places in the United States and abroad but have never experienced on other flights the satisfaction that Latino passengers provide to our crews when they erupt in a hearty round of applause at landing, which is our best reward.”