Twitter has turned the act of flying into a media event one person at a time. When bad weather hits, airlines need to be prepared to stay ahead of the conversation.
The threat of snowstorms from Maine to Toronto to Pennsylvania is wreaking havoc on air travel in eastern Canada and the northeast United States this weekend. With all the cancellations in the northeast and the ripple effect on flights from companies that have big hubs in the region — US Air in Philadelphia, Air Canada in Toronto, and Delta, JetBlue, and United in New York — customers are taking to Twitter to get help or bemoan their delayed state.
Airlines have been using Twitter for customer service more than any other sector of the travel industry, using the nearly instant and mobile-friendly format to deal with complaints and re-bookings (see more about how airlines use Twitter at SkiftSocial). So it was natural they took tweets before the storm even hit:
— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) February 6, 2013
Winter weather is affecting airports in the Northeast. Be sure to check the status of your flight: bit.ly/CheckFltStatus
— US Airways (@USAirways) February 8, 2013
02/08/13 Operational Update: bit.ly/11UAsXY Stay safe everyone!
— JetBlue Airways (@JetBlue) February 8, 2013
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) February 6, 2013
— United (@united) February 6, 2013
— Air Canada (@AirCanada) February 8, 2013
— Delta Air Lines News (@DeltaNewsroom) February 6, 2013
Some users are getting what they need from it …
@demideco You’re welcome Demi! Have a great flight and bundle up!
— Delta (@Delta) February 8, 2013
… some clearly aren’t
@flygirltwenty47 Our apologies for the frustration. What’s your flight number?
— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) February 8, 2013
… while others are turning to the service to complain about being left waiting on the telephone for hours trying to change a flight
@lulucarr2 Is there something we can help you with? ^MR
— United (@united) February 8, 2013
If delays increase this weekend, expect to see the better airlines on Twitter work around the clock responding to stranded travelers and trying to make amends. Most of the carriers have staff working on a twenty-four hour schedule, while Air Canada and US Airways show a penchant for slacking off between midnight and 8am EST.
They may want to avoid that this weekend, though. When passengers are sleeping in airports they tend to vent.