Corporate apologies are a tricky thing. Its very important that they are done quickly and correctly in order to negate some of the negative publicity that has sprung up. I read the apology sent to Kyla Ebbert from SW CEO Gary Kelly after Ebbert was asked to leave her SW flight because her skirt was too short. I have to agree, her skirt was pretty short. (I saw an interview she did on youtube.) But, then again, those types of skirts are pretty common nowadays. The apology, which was requested by Ebbert and her lawyer, seemed anything but sincere. It sounds faked and somewhat like a sales pitch.
"From a Company who really loves PR, touche to you Kyla! Some have said we've gone from wearing our famous hot pants to having hot flashes at Southwest, but nothing could be further from the truth. As we both know, this story has great legs, but the true issue here is that you are a valued Customer, and you did not get an adequate apology. Kyla, we could have handled this better, and on behalf of Southwest Airlines, I am truly sorry. We hope you continue to fly Southwest Airlines. Our Company is based on freedom even if our actions may have not appeared that way. It was never our intention to treat you unfairly and again, we apologize." (http://www.southwest.com/about_swa/press/prindex.html)
This apology sounds more like a letter to an acquaintance. Its a non apologetic apology. If I were Ebbert, I would be offended by this pathetic excuse for an apology. Seriously. Now, SW has gone on to use this incident to boost sales. At the same time they issued this apology they announced new "mini-skirt" fares. They are attempting to turn it around for their benefit. Maybe they'll turn Ebbert into one of their new spokespersons, or maybe she'll model her skirt in their commercials.
On the other hand, JetBlue did a wonderful job with their public apology in March. After the cancellation of over a thousands flights, Founder and CEO David Neeleman issued a public apology. In this apology, Neeleman agrees with customers complaints saying that, "Last week was the worst operational week in JetBlue’s seven year history." The long apology goes on to make promises to its customers, saying that JetBlue is going to work hard to fix any problems that arose during that time period. (http://www.jetblue.com/about/ourcompany/apology/index.html)
Neeleman also recorded his apology and released it on youtube. In this video, Neeleman does a great job sounding truly apologetic and sincere. The apology itself comes across as sincere and heartfelt. He takes responsibility for the companies mistakes and promises to never let it happen again. Neeleman is a genius. His apology will save JetBlue millions I'm sure.