|by Sean O'Neill||Airlines||1|
Discount airline JetBlue booted its founder, David Neeleman, today. The company's board of directors removed Neeleman from his chief executive role as punishment for his recent poor management, which led to last February's canceled-flights fiasco. Let's take a moment to pause and thank Neeleman for having invented JetBlue and many of its innovative perks, which Budget Travel recognized last year with a 2006 Extra Mile Award: "Rather than removing amenities and nickel-and-diming customers with $7 sandwiches and $25 excess baggage charges, JetBlue actually added perks. The airline gives every passenger on an overnight flight a free Bliss Spa kit with earplugs, eye masks, mint lip balm, and a small tube of lemon-and-sage body butter moisturizer." More recently, Neeleman had his airline reconfigure the seats on its aircraft to provide between 34- and 36-inches of legroom. Travelers nationwide ought to be grateful to JetBlue for setting such a good example for the proper treatment of coach-class passengers.
One more thought: Neeleman, 47, had an inspiring personal story. Growing up in Utah, he was the guy many teachers never thought would amount to much. Yet he overcame a debilitating brain disorder to eventually found a multi-billion dollar airline company, as detailed in this Fortune profile.
All that said, JetBlue's handling of passengers last February was unconscionable. So let's hope this management change, justified or not, lets the airline get back on track soon.