Leveraging Social Media To Fix Your Travel Problems

by on September 4, 2013 · 18 comments

in Social Media

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If you’ve been following the site lately, you’ll know that I’m currently en route from New York JFK to Cape Town via Amsterdam on KLM and that I had an extremely frustrating time securing Economy Comfort seating on KLM that required conversations not only with live representatives at both Delta and KLM as well as having to Tweet each of them until someone at KLM was finally able to assign me the seats I thought I had in the first place.

Only then I discovered that I would still be stuck in a middle seat for the AMS-CPT portion of my flight, which necessitated another round of Twitter direct messages until I finally had either an aisle or a window all the way through. Phew

My latest round of Twitter DM's with KLM - thank goodness I got an aisle seat!

My latest round of Twitter DM’s with KLM – thank goodness I got an aisle seat!

I’m actually a big proponent of using social media to your advantage and Tweeting, Facebooking and using any other means at your disposal to get a response from an airline or hotel. Airlines especially have proved faster at responding via Twitter than almost any other means – with American, Delta and JetBlue leading the pack – and the representatives manning the Twitter feeds are empowered to handle quite a few situations. Heck, even if you have a question for me, the chances of getting a quick response are much better if you Tweet me vs. email!

However, beware of complaining too often since airlines can flag you as a trouble passenger and stop responding. After all, if you cry wolf once too often, no one will believe you, and social media works both ways—if you’re going to complain when airlines do things wrong, you should consider praising them for good experiences.

Apparently I’m not alone in leveraging social media though I haven’t gone to the lengths that I read about in this NBC story about a man who took matters into his own hands when British Airways lost his father’s luggage.

Hasan Syed decided that Tweeting British Airways wasn’t enough – he actually paid for a sponsored Tweet (no word on how much it cost) on and wrote: “Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous.”

Screen shot 2013-09-03 at 9.16.15 PMBecause it was a sponsored Tweet, Syed could target it at the timelines of UK and US users who follow British Airways’ Twitter feed – prompting a quick blitz of responses and supportive Tweets.

However, there was still no response from BA, so he Tweeted again:

Screen shot 2013-09-03 at 9.19.23 PMAnd true to his word, he did – he kept Tweeting for over 8 hours before he got a response from the airline, who eventually found his father’s luggage and returned it to him…but not before thousands and thousands of Twitterers had picked up the story, the airline apologized publicly for the delay, and JetBlue’s VP of marketing wondered aloud on Twitter whether we were witnessing the birth of a new trend where disgruntled passengers would start buying sponsored Tweets to voice their dissatisfaction more loudly.

While I doubt most people will actually spend money to send sponsored Tweets with complaints except in the direst of circumstances, I do think this is an interesting development, and one we’ll start seeing more and more in our Twitter feeds.

Would you buy a promoted Tweet for a faster response?

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In case you’re interested in Tweeting for yourself – or even buying a sponsored Tweets, here’s a handy list of airline handles to help you get your message to the folks who can help you.


Alaska Airlines: @AlaskaAir

American Airlines: @AmericanAir

Delta: @deltaassist

Frontier: @frontiercare

Hawaiian Airlines: @HawaiianAir

JetBlue: @JetBlue

Southwest: @SouthwestAir

Spirit: @SpiritAirlines

United: @United

US Airways: @USAirways

Virgin America: @VirginAmerica


Air Canada: @AirCanada

Air France/KLM: @AirFranceUS, @KLM

Alitalia: @Alitalia

British Airways: @British_Airways

Cathay Pacific: @cathaypacific

Emirates: @emirates

Etihad: @EtihadHelp

Korean Air: @KoreanAir_KE

LAN: @LANAirlinesUSA

Lufthansa: @Lufthansa_USA

Qantas: @QFCustomerCare

Qatar Airways: @QatarAirways

Singapore Airlines: @SingaporeAir

Virgin Atlantic: @VirginAtlantic

Virgin Australia: @VirginAustralia

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Dieuwer

    “The tweet, for which Syed paid an undisclosed sum, appeared prominently in the company’s Twitter feed and was read by thousands of other users. ”

    So basically Twitter allows you to hack someone else feed for a fee and insert anything you want.
    Sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen against Twitter.

  • Ryan Pham

    Hack? How?

  • Jim LaVeck

    Lord knows I’ve tweeted plenty at @United. They’ve replied to a few of the positive posts, and completely ignored the negative ones.

  • ASW

    It would be interesting to see how Mr. Syed’s British Airways CIV (Customer Individual Value) score associated with his PNR was affected by his Tweet barrage. My guess is that his score is probably zero if not a negative number.

    Say, TPG… now that you’ve given out your Twitter handle with a carte blanche invitation to Tweet; do you worry that you might be the recipient of sponsored Tweet barrages by readers who disagree with you?

  • Jerry

    every time i contacted AF-KLM using their websites, i got response within… a week ! or no response at all
    most inquiry with twitter was responded within 24-48 hours max

  • Anthony Thomas

    It’s just an advert :)

    Ultimately I don’t think his Tweet necessarily resulted in faster customer service for him, considering the only resolution was the return of his bag which takes some time and the timescales are somewhat out of their control.

    As for cost, it appears he spent $1,000.

  • Danny

    I’m not sure you know what the word hack means, or how twitter works.

  • Jack Safar

    Honestly the first time I tweeted @deltaassist sold me on the tweeting them. My partner and I were flying a red eye SEA-ATL-MIA our SEA-ATL flight flew a really nuts flight path where it flew straight south to El Paso /Mexico then straight across the southern US to get to Atlanta to avoid some bad storms over the center of the US. It suddenly became an hour and a half longer than your average SEA-ATL flight. I was awake and nervous that we’d miss our connection and our 1 A&B would be given away. I tweeted @deltaassist, mentioned I was a Diamond Medallion and a Million Miler and I jokingly mentioned the idea that in order to make our connection we might need a “Porsche and a prayer” since we were due to land about 20 minutes before our scheduled departure time. When the 767 landed, there was a DL manager at the door of the plane who said my name, my partner and I were whisked down the steps into this beat up old minivan with a DL logo on the side, the gentleman said he was a Technical Ops manager and he jokingly said “this isn’t a Porsche but I’m gonna try to get you to your connection get you to your connection.” He hauled ass across the ATL tarmac we covered ground at light speed, he radioed to the gate to board 1 A&B, we walked up the stairways to the waiting jet and plopped into 1 A&B. The flight attendants were like “did those guys just come up the stairs, who are they?” And about a minute later the door closed. Somehow, someway our luggage made the flight too. It was outstanding, beyond legendary. I never in a million years expected things to happen how they did, and the @deltaassist team working with their colleagues at ATL really made us believers that DL employees are truly amazing and really do embrace the ‘keep climbing” mentality, regardless of their job title or work location. Really made us proud to be former NW and now DL Medallion fliers.

  • Dieuwer

    So, I can buy a Twitter add and spam the PointsGuy or whoever if I wanted? Way to go, Twitter.

  • Danny

    There’s an old saying: If you aren’t the customer, you’re the product. Twitter sells its customer base to advertiser just like facebook, reddit, and most other free/social websites. You don’t pay anything to use twitter, so it’s not like they owe you anything. They allow companies/people to buy ads and target groups with those ads. If you have the money, go ahead. I’m not sure what the problem is, to be honest.

  • Guest

    Do you think airlines’ responsiveness is proportional to how many followers you have on Twitter? I don’t think it’s a perfect direct relationship, but it probably matters at least a little bit.

  • Brian L.

    I have less than 200 followers on Twitter, and most times when I contact airlines, I get quick responses and answers to my questions.

  • Keith

    I feel your pain, Brian. I wish I could tell you how many times I’ve had ‘confirmed’ seats on AMS-Africa flights (delta issued tickets) on KL equipment that Delta assigned with no corresponding record on KLM side…The only 100% reliable strategy I’ve had is to DM KLM once you have the confirmation number for the trip to assign seats for to/from Africa. They’re slower than US airlines on twitter but seem to get things set within a couple of hours. I’ve also had success skyping into their offices in Adam, but not the US line.

  • peteynice


    @DeltaAssist is amazing. I was travelling ATL-AMS-OSL(-LJU) with that last segment on a different ticket. I sweet talked the check in person in Atlanta to check my bag through to Ljubljana. It did not show up with me. Two days later I called the airport, Adria and Delta and got nowhere. We were leaving Slovenia the next day and I was getting worried. I tweeted @DeltaAssist and an hour later had a voicemail from someone in their baggage operation center confirming my bag would arrive before we left the next day. I doubt I would have gotten my bag without them.

  • Amol

    I tweeted @deltaassist a few months ago for a tight connection at JFK where I landed about 30 minutes before departure and had to switch terminals to catch the last flight out to LA. The app had already rebooked me on the next morning’s flight. I tweeted DL Assist saying that I could still make the flight and to put me back on, that I was going to make a run for it (and said I was a Gold at the time). I was the first one off my 1st flight, had a Delta rep at the end of the jetbridge ask if I was me when I deboarded, and had waiting golf cart ready to take me.

    I was in coach on my next flight (upgrade didn’t clear) but when I boarded toward the end of general boarding, the flight attendant said, “You must be my Gold, I saved some overhead space for you.” All from a simple tweet.

  • Charlie

    I have had the opposite reaction. I wrote about how they bungled an award reservation on my blog and had a response from them on twitter (after I posted the link) in one hour! So, try writing about the complain first and then tweeting the link – seemed to work for me!

  • italdesign

    I had a good experience with Frontier’s Facebook customer service. I booked a ticket via Orbitz and only received 50% of the miles due to a new policy. I explained the policy wasn’t there when I last booked and requested full miles credit, to which they complied. This was after the phone agent refused to do anything. In turn, they got a happy customer and good PR like this.

  • Stephan

    Exactly! If he would have done nothing he probably still would have gotten his father’s bags back in a few days. however, i understand the guy’s aggravation and the intent was surely to publically give BA some grief.

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