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How To Get What You Want From An Airline

A recent article in the New York Times highlights the power of social media in a place where many consumers feel frustrated – airline travel.

“Last month… I was having trouble with the online check-in for my Spirit flight. So I decided to conduct a quick experiment: I would call customer service and tweet at the same time, to see which got a faster response.”

Long story short: The social team took care of his airline issue before he even reached a telephone representative.

With this episode in mind, and holiday travel close at hand, consider these tips for using social media to get faster airline service. The hacks work for things like checking in, tracking a lost bag, rebooking a flight, locating a traveling child, or making special requests.

1. Use Your Airline’s App

If you don’t have a Twitter or Facebook account, try getting in touch with customer service using the airline’s mobile app. Some have internal messaging services that are staffed by social care teams.

2. Use Twitter

Airlines pay a lot of attention to Twitter, so this is the platform where you can expect the quickest response. Messaging an airline on Twitter is easy. Just look up their “handle” (for example, Delta’s is @Delta) and begin your message with that handle. Keep in mind that messages sent this way on Twitter are public.

3. Use Private Messaging

Options here include Twitter’s direct message, Facebook Messenger (which is increasing in popularity, according to airline representatives), WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, and text messages. Because customer care agents will not ask you for personal information on a public forum, before they are really able to help you, they need to speak to you in a private channel.

“If you direct message us, we can immediately roll up our sleeves and get into the nitty-gritty, like seat assignments, flight numbers, and personal information,” Lynn Stines, a social care representative at American Airlines, told the Times.

4. Say What You Need

While a vent or a passive-aggressive jab may feel good, they don’t get you to the front of the customer service line.

“We still see several customers a day tweet something general and vague,” said Laurie Meacham, the head of JetBlue’s social media support team. “We almost always have to ask follow up questions to get to what they actually need.”

And be sure to have your information ready, such as booking or reservation numbers, flight numbers, and any personal information that representatives will need to look up your trip.

5. Be Nice

This is probably our most important tip. It’s hard to be polite when you’re tired and stressed, but I seem to recall an old saying about catching more flies with honey. So, be polite. And if you do lose your cool, online, you may get some heat yourself. Be prepared for backlash by people who see your problem as one that didn’t merit your rant.

Keep these things in mind this holiday season, and it should be smooth sailing, er, flying for you and your family.

Check Out: CEOs Tried Flying In Their Airline’s Coach Seats And Here’s What They Had To Say About It

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