How Twitter Helped Fly My Family Home

TwitterAirlineAirlines don’t always have the best reputation when it comes to customer experience. People simply want to get from point A to point B, which usually is a long ways away. Anything that these passengers view as an obstacle in their journey is not always taken to kindly. On the other hand, companies like Southwest Airlines have been regarded as a prime example of how to approach the social customer experience. But this story doesn’t involved Southwest.

8 Days In Dublin

My mom and sisters had spent 13 days in Ireland and London, visiting family and doing general touristy things. Their flight was due to land in Philadelphia on July 29th, but rough weather here at home caused delays and cancellations. One cancellation was the flight from Dublin, leaving my family stranded across the pond.

We assumed the next flight out would bring them home and they’d spend one night in a great hotel, courtesy of the airline. Instead, US Airways initially told my mother that the next available flight (for them) would be on August 6th. While the girls had loved their time in the Land of Eire, they were eager to get home. What’s a Yank to do to help his family with nothing but a smartphone and a love for Twitter?

Testing My Social Mettle

That same morning, I had been having a conversation with one of the top Social Marketing Consultants via email and asked if he knew anyone at US Airways. Unfortunately, his contact has just moved on from the organization, leaving me without an ‘in’.

At that point I did what any sensible person in 2013 would do – I tweeted them. Anyone who has never done this might think this action as ridiculous or a waste, but I knew it was worth a shot.

After sending that message to the community manager, I followed US Airways on twitter, opening up another channel for them to reach me. Soon after, they followed me back and sent me this note:

USAirDM1

Between the time I received the Direct Message from US Airways about the confirmation codes and when my sister gave me the right combination, an hour had gone by. I was hoping that US Airways hadn’t moved on from our case, which wouldn’t have been surprising, given the volume of people that they come in contact with on a daily basis. Luckily for us, not even five minutes after I had given the confirmation codes back to the community manager, I received the most incredible thing I’d ever seen come through my Twitter inbox:

USAirDM2

Twitter Concierge

These are the kinds of moments that happen when your organization is a Social Business. My family doesn’t get to fly home specifically because of a Direct Message on twitter. An entire group of people, connected internally throughout the global company, worked in concert to fix this issue. I can only imagine there were folks trying to figure out the logistics of getting hundreds of people home after these weather complications. The only thing that we see is a message on twitter and a bunch of happy ladies.

ColleenDM

FBGlee

Yes, Jons FTW, indeed. But Social Business for the bigger win. Connected companies make stories like this one possible. US Airways took events that were beyond their control (weather) and turned it into an opportunity to delight and ease the worry of their customers – all while turning it into a story my family and I will never forget.

P.S. – When my Dad heard about all of this twitter ruckus he sent me a text asking if I had, ‘complained on twitter?’ Had I complained on twitter I don’t believe I would have gotten as far as I did. Because I offered the option to email me and take the conversation offline, it more than likely made the US Airways community manager feel more comfortable in opening a dialogue about how to bring my family home ASAP. But perhaps it begs the question: do you get more done on twitter by complaining or by being civil?

  • icolorstudio

    I enjoyed this post! No one can live without their sisters and their Mom for more than 13 days! :) I had a similar experience….with PR and getting through to the right people to help out. You sometimes feel like you are screaming out to the mega cyberspace communities….so happy to hear the Yank could help his family with the tools he knows best!

  • http://about.me/jwsteiert Jonathan Steiert

    Thank you, Rita. It was quite a shock to read the message that US Airways had originally told them August 6th! Just happy to have done my part and that the company did their (huge) part in listening and bringing them home safe and sound.

  • jwsteiert

    Thank you, Rita. I just got lucky that the company was listening. My contribution in getting them home is moot without a responsive social business!