2016 Update: The website was deactivated quite a while ago. (Here’s the announcement, via archive.org.) Here’s what it looked like in its heyday.

One aspect of the whole Jetsgo fiasco that this space has touched on (without adequately addressing) is the horrible position Jetsgo employees are in.

Satoshi Takano, who launched the Jetsgone web site a few days ago, has had a superb response… including this post from a former Jetsgo employee. It sheds a new light on last December’s mess:

On Thurs December 23rd, 2004 the airline experienced a major breakdown in operation. YYZ Passenger Service Agents were spat at, pushed/shoved, threatened, and one agent was even punched. Such an event would send a lot of people scrambling for the exit, however, YYZ PSA’s stood together and got through this horrible day. Agents worked 24 hours to accomodate passengers and all that was said the next day in the media was that the customer service was ‘not up to standards’. That in fact is true, but only because management failed to prepare for such an event. The customer service on behalf of the agents on duty, having been there myself and seeing it with my own eyes was exceptional… and that’s the kind of employees Jetsgo once had… one of a kind – no less.

And there’s one big reason that companies (and other organizations) often screw up on damage control. The people who have both the information and the resources to communicate it usually aren’t the people who get the heat from the public.

Put it another way: it’s easy to convince yourself that nothing’s wrong and you can lowball your way through a crisis, when your corporate structure insulates you from public fury.

Put it a third way: using employees as human shields to protect you from your customers is bad business and worse karma.

(And put it a fourth way: if you’re the customer in this situation, try to remember that front-line employees may be just as much victims of the circumstances as you are… and that taking your frustration out on them is just going to make a bad situation worse. Not to mention the fact that it makes you a shmuck.)

So, pop quiz: If you’re on the insulated side of your organization’s structure, what mechanisms do you have to know whether you have a PR problem right now?