JoTo PR Disruptors commentary on Travel+:Leisure article: JetBlue is going to let passengers board with just a selfie
Like 99.99% of human beings, I dislike the whole “Airport-Security-Boarding-Screening” as much as the next traveler… but alas, there is a level of safety that needs to be upheld. That doesn’t mean that American travelers haven’t screamed out in defiance to change this procedure… and sometimes a company listens.
Believe it or not… JetBlue Airlines is going to let passengers board their planes with a “selfie.” 1
Let that sit with you for a moment then continue reading.
Now, it’s not as simple as snapping a picture with your phone and texting it to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and saying, “Thanks!” (DAMMIT!) But when boarding, travelers will be able to opt-in to having a camera take a photo of them to be instantly sent to the CBP and cross-checked with photos on file to ensure you are the person you say you are. A screen will prompt you when you are clear to board.
Now—safety issues aside, let’s look at this in terms of PR and business acumen:
This is DISRUPTION in the best sense: an example of a company being aware of their industry and the claims against it. People hate waiting in lines at airports and find the entire process stressful. JetBlue, and likely other airlines, saw this problem and threw money into R&D to solve the situation.
Given that this process works – it will eliminate the line you having to wait in when you board, peeking over the person in front of you trying to see if you’re in the right boarding group or whatever. Stress elimination on the part of the consumer when traveling. That’s good…nope, it’s GREAT.
These companies are trying to eliminate as many lines as possible, as well, with self-help kiosks through the travel process.
Yes, this is a great example of being disruptive in your market and thus making it into the news and media. The whole idea of “Selfie-boarding,” almost writes articles itself… and will sell.
As long as JetBlue’s plan doesn’t seriously backfire, they have a winner on their hands if it makes traveling easier for people.
Only time will tell.