Ask Until You Get to Yes: My Twitter Relationship with American Airlines
I am one of those people who joined Twitter because it seemed like a fun way to express my frustrations with corporate America, publicly. Airlines, specifically American Airlines, are my favorite Twitter targets. For one, who doesn’t love complaining about airlines? They’re all terrible. But what’s really hooked me is that American actually responds to me, like 100% of the time.
Most of the time, my travel is somewhere between smooth and hell unleashed. A couple of times a year, I find myself amidst a full on, epic, nuclear meltdown the core is about to go, travel disaster. Take May 26, 2016. I’m attempting to fly home to DC from Baton Rouge, LA. This requires a simple layover in Dallas.
However, in between Dallas and Baton Rouge sits a massive, made in Texas, thunderstorm. We finally board our flight after a few hours of delays at the Baton Rouge airport. Let me tell you in case you weren’t aware, the Baton Rouge airport is not the pinnacle of exciting airports. It thankfully does have a bar, but it was 10am and although I usually subscribe to the “it’s five o’clock somewhere” approach to life, I was on a work trip.
A little while into what feels like has been too long for a flight that’s this short, the pilot comes on to tell us we’ll be landing in Austin because of a fuel shortage. This is not the first fuel shortage landing I’ve endured. Once I ended up in Pittsburgh instead of DC because we’d circled so many times we ran out of fuel. So while this had happened to me before, it had not happened in the middle of a thunderstorm. On the bumpy and unpleasant way down, I think to myself, would the pilot have chosen to land this plane if we were weren’t running out of fuel?
You’re reading this, so we all know the flight landed just fine, as it usually does.
But then, we find ourselves parked off on some random runway far away from the Austin airport “waiting for a fuel truck.” An hour goes by and we are “waiting for a fuel truck.” Then the crew says we have the option to get off the flight and re-book if we would like.
I’ve been to this rodeo. In about another hour, the pilots or the flight attendants were going to be over their allotted work time and we’d all be screwed anyway. Peace out. Austin has great Mexican food so I’ll just make a night of it and start over again tomorrow.
Tomorrow comes, and American has canceled my reservation for a flight from Austin to Charlotte. Unclear how this happened as they checked me in and printed my boarding pass before I left the airport the night before. I throw a fit, overthrowing one gate agent in favor of another who wanted to let me on the plane (pro tip: if you are involuntarily bumped, the airline owes you way more money than what they offer volunteers, so in this case they bumped a volunteer instead of me). But, I had one more flight to make in Charlotte, so off to my buddies on Twitter.
And mid-air, they fixed the rest of my reservation and I got home in time to see the Nats game.
Between my demands for seats and information on delays, I throw in some nice tweets so American doesn’t block me from tweeting at them.
Maybe someday they'll even re-tweet me! I tried hard on this one.
But then, it's back to business.
So much snark in that last one! But, they respond! Every time! I highly recommend making twitter friends with American Airlines. They know me so well by now, I don’t even have to tell them my frequent flier number anymore.
Yes, because there’s a blizzard.
Of course you will. I spend a lot of money with your airline.
American does have superb customer service via Twitter. Sometimes I have more luck getting what I need through the Twitter staff than I do with the call centers.
But the funny thing about them, and most airlines, and a lot of other places, is that if you ask enough people you can usually get what you need. So if the person on the phone says no, go to the check in counter. If they say no, ask the gate agent. If they say no, ask a different gate agent. That’s worked for me on getting earlier flights, better routes, a seat on an overbooked flight when I need to get somewhere for a funeral, and getting refunds on non-refundable tickets.
It’s a war of attrition. Whoever gives up first, loses.