New Airline (‘Reborn’) PEOPLExpress Has a Very Bad Day, and Teaches All Other Airlines an Important Lesson

The ‘new’ PEOPLExpress airlines had a very bad operational day yesterday. They took to their Facebook page, with a message signed by their President:

Lots of customers appreciated this heartfelt and detailed explanation, although I’m not sure in his position I would have scolded customer behavior (it won’t be taken well by the customers who behaved that way, and will be read mostly by customers who didn’t — and is about the airline’s needs rather than theirs — although perhaps it paints a sympathetic picture).

It seems like they handled things better than United does.

Although their non-Facebook communication probably wasn’t as good, based on this Facebook comment:

While I am grateful for the explanation, I am still upset about the lack of knowledge from your airport checkin-in counter staff, not being able to get anyone on your toll free number (was on hold for 1 1/2 hours) and no timely notification (email or call) about these flights being cancelled or delayed. I didn’t get an email regarding the cancellation until 3:50 PM and my flight was due to depart at 4:45 PM.

…Also, when I checked, nothing was updated on the website regarding the cancellations or delays…

It’s not just reserve crews they haven’t figured out yet. They don’t quite know how to coordinate with the rest of the required services at the airport yet, either.

I’m a much bigger fan of flying airlines with ticketing agreements that allow them to put customers on other airline flights when mechanical or crew issues force significant delays or cancellations.

Or assuming that there’s some chance such things will happen, taking a portfolio approach and self-insuring — if it happens one out of ten times, set aside a tenth the cost of buying a new ticket on another carrier.

Or, for the cost savings, recognize that there’s a greater chance of not making it to your destination on the day you plan. There’s a trade-off you need to accept to get the savings offered.

The reaction of customers overall suggests though that going to Facebook with this sort of message is appreciated by consumers starved for authentic communication. They’ll give far more slack than is deserved, even, if they receive what feels like honest information. There’s a lesson in there for other travel providers I’m sure… a lesson which won’t be learned or followed.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I remember that years ago when Jet Blue was a lot smaller than it is right now, station managers at airports had corporate American Express cards, and were authorized to use them to just buy tickets on other airlines to accomodate passengers that were severely disrupted.

    This was their way of getting around their lack of cross-ticketing ability – I learned this from a conversation with a station manager in LAS.

  2. I’m not a fan of having to go to facebook for the most accurate information. They need to be putting this crap on their website or emailing it out directly.

    And yes Gary, I happen to agree with you about booking carriers with interline ticket agreements, unless the operator is of critical mass such that they can handle their own disruptions.

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