JetBlue's Response to Dumped Bridesmaid's Viral Tweet Is a Perfect Lesson in Emotional Intelligence

You can’t make this stuff up.  A woman named Courtney Duffy was all set to fly across the country to be a bridesmaid in her friend Alex’s wedding. Duffy is getting an MBA at Dartmouth and then moving on to an MPA (Masters in Public Administration) at Harvard, so it’s safe to say she’s very busy with schoolwork. That being the case, she booked a flight on JetBlue that would get her to her destination in time to take part in the wedding ceremony, and then fly back on Sunday evening, presumably in time for summer classes or a summer job on Monday.

None of that was good enough for Alex, who sent her a lengthy and regretful email explaining that she had really wanted Duffy to also be on hand for a bridesmaid trip, and throughout the weekend, and not to fly home before Monday. The shorter trip “just won’t work with the duties as a party member.” And so, Alex wrote, she must ask Duffy to relinquish her duties as bridesmaid. “This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to ask anyone,” she wrote. But a couple of sentences later, she also asked Duffy to mail her the jumpsuit (jumpsuit??) so that a replacement bridesmaid could wear it instead.

Revenge is sweet, and sweetest on social media, so Duffy posted a screenshot of the entire email to Twitter, as part of a plea to @JetBlue.

The whole situation resonated with the Twitterverse. Duffy’s tweet has been retweeted more than 1,000 times. Many responded that they’d had similar experiences of being fired as bridesmaids. Most advised Duffy to burn the jumpsuit (or go swimming in the ocean and then send it along), forget the friendship, and count herself fortunate not to participate in a wedding where a jumpsuit was required. 

Four hours later, the airline responded. JetBlue did indeed refund Duffy’s airfare, and took it a step further:

Reasonable people can disagree over whether it was justified or not for Alex to fire Duffy as a bridesmaid. On one hand, traditional bridesmaid duties stretch over weeks or months before the wedding and include planning and participating in a bridal shower and possibly a bridesmaids’ trip. On the other hand, if you’re inviting someone from thousands of miles away, and you have expectations that go beyond the wedding itself, that’s something you should discuss up front. Had Alex done that, Duffy could have made the decision to either plan a longer trip or decline the bridesmaid role.

Whatever her reasoning, if Alex had to ask Duffy to step down, it should have been via phone or video chat, not an email or text message. Not only would that have been a better way to preserve the relationship–assuming she cares about that as her email says over and over that she does–it would have saved her a lot of social media embarrassment. 

But. As Duffy herself noted in a follow-up tweet, weddings tend to bring out the worst in people. JetBlue is able to see the big picture–that in six months or a year the two might be able to laugh about this and enjoy a girls’ weekend together. Or maybe not, and Duffy will wind up using her gift airfare with a different friend.

Either way, it’s a win for JetBlue. Not only did the airline do something nice for someone who was upset, it wisely saw the opportunity to get a lot of excellent publicity for the relatively small investment of a couple of free tickets. Even more important, it did it quickly, before Twitter users’ famously fickle attention had wandered somewhere else.

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