An Awesome Way To Fly For Free

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  • Article by Amy Bradney-George
  • February 27, 2015 at 3:34 PM

The quest for free flights generally leads to frequent flyer programs, reward points and seat redemptions to get from A to B. But one airline in the US is offering actual free flights to people just for being nice.

JetBlue has set up an initiative called “Fly It Forward”, giving free flights to “deserving individuals” as a way to “make the world a little better”.

“All we ask is that they pass on the same chance to someone else,” JetBlue says.

The low cost airline says the social movement is inspired by its own crewmembers, with staff helping to launch the initiative by nominating people they know.

Crewmember Jay Sequiera, for example, nominated social worker Louis Elneus for a free flight so that he could return to Haiti and continue his work developing youth education and literacy programs. Elneus had previously established the first public library in Haiti and is passionate about working in the region.

“I believe that when we pass on and spread goodness, we’ve prolonged humanity,” he says.

“I hope that what we do will motivate more people and encourage all those involved with Fly It Forward to continue inspiring others.”

Elneus then passed the free ticket on to top Haitian marathon runner Astrel Clovis, who JetBlue says is using running to “inspire and encourage a nation in the process of rebuilding”. Clovis was flown from Haiti to New York for the NYC Marathon, where he passed the ticket on to New Jersey ovarian cancer survivor who is dedicated to creating more awareness about the disease.

The journey has continued from there, with 10 people flying to eight different cities in the first five months of the program. JetBlue’s senior vice president of commercial, Marty St. George, says Fly It Forward is a way for the airline to really commit to its “mission to inspire humanity”.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the mechanics of travel and overlook the reasons why people travel. Everyone travels for their own reasons. It’s those stories, those connections with individuals that inspire us all,” he says.

“At JetBlue, we have the means to facilitate those human connections. With Fly It Forward, we’re pulling the humanity and goodness that already exists to the forefront by making the sharing of these stories possible.”

The Fly It Forward initiative has set JetBlue apart from other airlines by creating a supportive social movement, and developing engagement with the community through its website and social media channels. But what also sets the airline apart is the fact that it has not spent a lot of time advertising this initiative.

“We’re not necessarily going to publicise it,” JetBlue communications manager Morgan Johnston tells The Huffington Post, adding: “It would be disingenuous to do so.”

Instead, the airline says its Fly It Forward website “will be the hub of all conversations and activity”, with Twitter as the leading social media platform. It has encouraged people to submit their own Fly It Forward nominations, with new winners selected by the previous fliers “every other week”.

As news of this program organically spreads across the world, it will be interesting to see where this ticket goes – and if other airlines respond with their own social initiatives.

Fly it Forward
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