Tha JetBlue story is a fascinating one because the passengers on board were watching live coverage of their ordeal on the DirecTV feed in their seat-back televisions. It was almost the opposite of the situation in New Orleans, where the trapped citizens were in the dark as to what was happening, even as reporters roamed among them, piping their story out to the rest of the world.
In general, I think it's best for the pilot to share as much information as possible to explain turbulence, or delays, or problems of any sort. Keeping people in the dark is one of the oldest tools in the storyteller's handbook for how to keep them in suspense, but that's not what you want with a plane full of jumpy, bug-eyed passengers.
However, television news coverage is often guilty of sensationalizing late-breaking stories, and from what I've read, passengers were watching uninformed television commentators presenting all sorts of horrific scenarios, none of which were the likely outcome in what aviation experts have described as a standard emergency landing.
So does this help or hurt JetBlue business? In cases like these, it seems as if the airplane model usually takes the brunt of the blame. In this case it's the Airbus A320. Reporters have quickly combed government records and found that 7 Airbus A320's have had landing gear problems (though I have not yet read what the denominator in that equation should be, or how the resulting percentage would compare to that of other aircrafts; is 7 good or bad? Who knows). But I suspect that the impact to the airline affected, or the airplane manufacturer, is brief and minimal.
Either people are really logical and able to do the math to realize that air travel is really safe, or they fly because comparable alternatives are lacking, or some combination of the above. I have certain aircraft types I prefer over others because of the seating arrangement and leg room, but it's rare when I have two flights of comparable price that allow me to choose a specific type of plane.
On a somewhat related note, I'm curious about the answer to the disappearance of Jodie Foster's daughter in Flightplan (7-minute sneak peek at the official site). It's a trailer with an intriguing hook. Everyone I've talked to reacts with surprise when I mention my curiosity, and I suppose they're right in anticipating a mundane explanation. I've never heard of the director, either, and his resume doesn't inspire confidence.
The main problem, though, is that the moviegoing public is well-versed in Hollywood thriller formulas. It's not easy to surprise anyone if you stick to the playbook. The trailer gives away enough that it's highly likely that Foster's daughter was on the flight, that someone snatched her daughter for some reason related to her participation in the design of the airplane (that info will certainly aid her in her search), and that she is reunited with her daughter by movie's end.
Of course, Hitchcock often gave away the gig early in the movie, as in Dial M for Murder, yet still managed to craft an engrossing movie. It's not always what you tell, but how you tell it. I enjoy watching Jodie Foster and Peter Saarsgard on screen, and probably will sometime this weekend.