Why Twitter is a traveller’s new best friend

It used to be that when you had a problem with an airline, you either patiently stood in line at a ticket counter, or cradled a phone to your ear listening to horrid elevator music in hopes of finally connecting with a real person. Then, a wonderful wonderful thing was invented…Twitter!

Yes, I have found that you can actually get a response faster by tweeting at an airline, than trying to go all old-school and have an actual conversation with someone.

I’ve unfortunately had to test out this theory quite a few times in the last year, and am happy to report that I had more success by contacting them through social media then I did chatting on the phone.

The first time was while trying to check in for an Air Canada flight with no success. The lady I spoke with on the phone was no help (something to do with a code share?) and said we’d have to wait until the airport—not great when you’re heading out on your honeymoon and are not booked to sit together at all during the 24 hour flight. So, I went all techy and tweeted Air Canada, and within 20 minutes had brand new seat assignments!

acflight

Interestingly enough, their social media handlers seem to have more of a grasp about the general goings-on at the airline, based on my experience trying to book a flight with a promo code. When it didn’t work, I phoned Air Canada’s call centre, and got a useless “well, your flight probably isn’t valid” “well I don’t know what’s wrong” “well it probably doesn’t apply” series of responses from the bored ‘customer service’ agent who picked up after 25 minutes on hold. Not loving his answers, I tweeted Air Canada and sure enough got the following message back:

more ac flight

Unfortunately by then it was too late and the flight had disappeared, but you get the point. If at once you don’t succeed, try, try again!

Despite the fact that most travellers book their trips online and are avid Twitter/Facebook users, some companies haven’t quite grasped the importance of being adept with social media. Take my recent exchange with KLM. Concerned about an upcoming trip to Egypt, I phoned them to see about our options of extending our stopover in Amsterdam so we would be spending less time in the potentially dangerous country. Unfortunately, the agent I spoke with did not speak English very clearly so I was left a bit confused, and decided to go the written route instead. Despite sending @KLMCanada a message and DM request, I still to this day have heard nothing back. Really?? So, I resorted to messaging @KLM and thankfully they got back to me in a reasonable time frame—though they were not terribly sympathetic to our concerns.

klm flight

I would like to point out that Singapore Airlines once extended a layover for me in Tokyo with absolutely no questions asked or extra charges (ahem!)…but that’s a story for another day. My husband and I have both also sent e-mails to KLM and have not gotten a single response back—a troubling trend I’ve noticed with airlines including WestJet. I sent them an e-mail about a travel credit question and two months later haven’t gotten a response. But look what happened less than 12 hours after I sent them a DM…

west jet

So in summary…Twitter is a traveller’s new best friend!

Now, let’s hope that more airlines take note—or bring their other customer service responses up to the same level. Because let’s face it, sometimes it’s just nicer to talk to a real person.

Have a Twitter success story? Share it below, or tweet me.

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9 Responses

  1. Ryan says:

    Thanks for this story. I can speak from experience – this definitely applies to more than just the travel industry! My TV service provider had what turned out to be a major outage a couple months ago. If you were lucky enough to get into the queue for phone support (I got “All circuits are currently busy. Please try your call again later” about half a dozen times), you were probably on hold for a couple hours. I even tried the online chat support option – tried to connect with someone for half an hour before giving up.

    I had just recently decided to delve into the Twitter-sphere, so I thought I’d see if anyone I was following in my area was having the same issue. When I typed in my search for “(TV service provider) outage”, I realized how wide spread the outage actually was. I started following my TVSP’s support account, sent a tweet their way, and heard back from someone within 5 minutes.

    I really have to commend the customer service agents that manage these support accounts. In my instance, they were responding to literally every tweet, even the nasty ones. I also follow WestJet, and they seem to be on top of every single one as well. Twitter will definitely be the first place I look from now on when I need to get in touch with any customer service representative.

    • Couldn’t agree more Ryan, it’s funny how companies have taken a positive step in replying instantly via social media, but have yet to catch up on the types of communication we’ve been using for years (phone, e-mail).
      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Great post. I’m finding this with a lot of industries and businesses … funny how they are quick to respond when social media is involved. It all comes down to word of mouth I guess. A lot of Australian businesses, smaller ones at least, seem to be slow to catch on, but they are getting there.

  1. August 19, 2013

    […] Why Twitter is a traveller’s new best friend  […]

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