Airline Passengers Turn To Twitter
First all the rave was over Angry Birds, now it’s Angry Tweets over delays, cancelled flights, lost luggage, and more. Airline passengers are now armed with smartphones and an army of consumers have fired up their Twitter applications to complain about their flights over the holiday season.
As multiple weather systems impacted airports across the United States over the past week, thousands of flights were delayed and cancelled. Heavy snow fell across the Midwest while it was high winds which caused flight disruptions across the Ohio Valley and along the East Coast.
Outside of the Midwest, San Francisco (SFO) has been plagued with visibility problems and Fort Lauderdale (FLL) has been facing flight restrictions because of runway construction. The poor visibility at SFO and the lone runway at FLL restricted the number of landings and take-offs per hour.
Top things off with mechanical delays and it quickly turned into a sea of chaos for many.
As consumers tried to call airlines, they encountered wait times in excess of an hour to speak with an agent. Inside large hub airports, obtaining assistance from an agent meant lining up in a queue.
After a flight cancellation, being re-accommodated proved difficult for many as there were few spare seats on other flights. This resulted in overnight delays and in some cases, passengers had to wait two or three days to get a seat.
In addition to complaints, consumers used Twitter to obtain assistance from their airlines.
Customer Service Via Twitter
Delta Air Lines setup an account on Twitter specifically to help travelers. Delta customers in need of assistance only needed to send a tweet to @DeltaAssist to obtain help. Furthermore, Delta boasts GoGo Internet WiFi across their US Domestic mainline fleet and all regional aircraft seating more than 60 passengers. In-flight WiFi services provided consumers with the ability to tweet, even at 32,000 feet.
Whether @United @AmericanAir @JetBlue @USAirways or @SouthwestAir, consumers complained and few complimented over the Christmas holidays.
The irony in the complaints we’d see is one individual would say “I’ll never fly @AmericanAir again, now I know why I love @SouthwestAir” only to be followed by another individual tweeting – seconds later – the opposite, “I’ll never fly @SouthwestAir again, now I know why I love @AmericanAir.”
Most airlines assisted via Twitter when they could, but the most pro-active of the carriers was Delta Air Lines with their dedicated @DeltaAssist account.
Be careful of what you send on Twitter
One thing we saw which bothered us was individuals tweeting their record locator (PNR) along with their full name and/or other identifying details publicly. Twitter may be a new way to communicate for many, but such information should only be sent using a Direct Message (DM).
Mischievous individuals could easily use the information to assign your entire family middle seats or cancel your flights all together. Don’t ever tweet your record locator publicly.
To send a Direct Message on Twitter, first follow and then contact with the party you need to speak with, such as @DeltaAssist, and ask them to follow you. Once the other party follows you, you can send what is called a Direct Message, often abbreviated as “DM” on Twitter.
Twitter can be a good communications tool providing the airline engages consumers via social media, but with some airlines, your tweet may fall on deaf ears. If you have a complaint which requires a response, be sure to send it via the the airlines website, or by snailmail to their consumer relations address.
On a final note, most airlines have a SmartPhone App for the iPhone and Android. If the airline you’re flying has a SmartPhone App, it’s suggested you obtain it. Most app’s will provide up to date information about your flight status and any changes.