There’s always someone ready to criticize, especially when you’re trying to do something nice. Poor old JetBlue found this out firsthand this week, when New Yorkers and politicians slammed the airline for its low altitude flypast in honor of the city’s first responders.
A flypast salute by JetBlue
Last night, US low-cost airline JetBlue undertook a unique aerial display, using three usually liveried aircraft to fly low over the city of New York. The timing of the display was planned to coincide with the city’s nightly round of applause celebrating its key frontline workers.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) May 7, 2020
The airline seconded ‘I Heart Blue York,’ ‘Blue Finest,’ and ‘Blue Bravest’ for the flypast, aircraft that have been painted to honor the city, the police force and the fire department respectively. The salute took place between 19:00 and 20:00, with a route spanning from JFK, round Brooklyn, over the Bronx and down the coast of Manhattan.
The flight was operated at no cost to JetBlue, and at no profit to the airline either. The Air Line Pilots Association donated the pilot time, a jet fuel provider donated the fuel and CarbonFund.org offset all the carbon emissions. In addition to all this, the airline used the flypast to jump-start its offer of 100,000 free pairs of round-trip tickets for deserving ‘Healthcare Heroes.’
A super gesture you might think, but not according to some New Yorkers.
Massive backlash from New Yorkers
Despite the airline’s best intentions, it seems its choice of conducting a low flypast was, in the opinions of many, gravely misjudged. Some were concerned about the environmental impact, but the vast majority were more concerned about the lack of consideration for New Yorker’s feelings.
While many years may have passed, for many, the events of 2001 have left a deep scar. As such, a series of very low flying passenger planes could stir up some negativity, as fast became apparent on Twitter.
Because of course, low flying passenger aircraft circling the city won’t startle or concern New Yorkers for any particular reason… 🙄
— ThirtyBirdy™ (@10Plus20Birdy) May 7, 2020
First Responders in New York City: “I hope to god I never see anything like 9/11 again”
JetBlue: “Guys, I have an idea. You know what first responders in New York City would think is cool?”
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) May 7, 2020
If I didn’t see this tweet and then at 7 tonight saw 3 commercial airliners flying needlessly low, I would be scared as shit that there was about to be a plane crash. You’re JetBlue not the Blue Angels, stay in your lane. https://t.co/rGzLRT2cXj
— rone’s gamblin corner (@_rone) May 7, 2020
Ah yes, low-flying commercial airliners with a backdrop of skyscrapers. Just the types of imagery New York needs.
— Marissa Cruz Lemar (@MCruzMissile) May 8, 2020
Politicians join in too
If it wasn’t enough that half of New York was up in arms over the stunt, the city’s politicians soon weighed in too. Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed the airline for dirtying the air in a city fighting a respiratory disease:
Nothing like a corporate PR campaign that burns jet fuel at low altitudes over vulnerable communities dying from a respiratory virus that compounds on our preexisting and disproportionate exposure to air pollution to show healthcare workers we care https://t.co/xyCr3tojgn
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 7, 2020
Fellow democrat Qasim Rashid added fuel to the fire, with a tweet also focused on the pollution caused:
So if I understand this correctly—@JetBlue spewed toxic exhaust into the air at low altitudes over the part of the world hardest hit by a deadly respiratory virus—all to show how much they care about the people dying while fighting against said virus🤔
Fascinating 😑 https://t.co/r97HYA6WPx
— Qasim Rashid for Congress (@QasimRashid) May 8, 2020
Thankfully some politicians saw sense, with New York governor Andrew Cuomo thanking JetBlue for donating flights for healthcare workers.
.@JetBlue is donating a pair of round-trip flights to 100,000 medical personnel and nurses to honor their efforts, beginning with 10,000 NY medical professionals.
What a great way to thank so many of our frontline heroes. #NationalNursesDay
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) May 6, 2020
The JetBlue flyover was clearly a polarizing campaign and didn’t go down half as well as the airline likely thought it would. We’re guessing it’s the last time JetBlue will be undertaking such a stunt.
Did you see the JetBlue flypast? Do you see it as done in the best of intentions, or do you agree it was in poor taste? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.