This just in from a JetBlue customer who took the 12:55 flight from JFK to Long Beach this morning: JetBlue chief financial officer Ed Barnes was onboard and addressed passengers today, doling out free tickets and even assuming partial flight-attendant duties. The appearance comes in the wake of the sensational incident earlier this week where one of the company’s workers, Steven Slater, quit after telling off passengers and escaping through an emergency hatch. Our tipster first noticed that the working flight attendant “was unusually perky.” “I was like, ‘Wow, they’re really overcompensating, aren’t they,” says our source. But then the crew member announced that there were some “special guests” onboard — Barnes and a company VP, Robin Hayes, who got up and thanked passengers for flying JetBlue.
In the middle of the flight, Hayes played a game with passengers, asking them to guess how much it cost to fuel a cross-country flight, and gave two free round-trip tickets to the passengers who came closest to guessing the right number (just over $10,000). Meanwhile, Barnes took one of the most challenging of the flight attendant’s duties upon himself: He gathered trash. “He never served anything, but he was the trash guy. He must have gone by eight times,” our source said. “And he was kind of bad at it. He was really tall. There’s an art to reaching over people’s heads and grabbing liquid trash and not spilling it.” Apparently both men were very nice, especially considering that the CFO was “clearly a guy who is used to doing spreadsheets and is now gathering trash.”
We called JetBlue to see if this act of executive selflessness was performed in response to this week’s incident. (Our spy noted that in the galley, when the JetBlue staffers were talking about it, they simply referred to the AWOL attendant as “Steven.”) “It’s business as usual. Our top executives are flying all the time,” said JetBlue spokesman Mateo Lleras. “They help out, they talk to customers … As a company policy, once we land, every single crew member [as in, JetBlue employee, not just stewards] helps clean up the flight and tidy up the plane.” Executive passengers, according to Lleras, even make a habit of handing out a few free tickets regularly. “It’s pretty common,” he said. “It probably got attention because of what happened this week.”