Social media has taken the US and world by storm and everyone, from individuals to major corporations, have turned to social media to express themselves, advertise, and to resolve customer service problems. I have had restaurants thank me for dining with them when checking in via foursquare and have had hotels wish me a pleasant stay. I’ve also used twitter to connect with companies. I connect with the American Airlines team the most frequently, but in the past, I have connected with companies such as Tumi, Samsonite, Marriott, Delta, and more. Companies tend to respond fairly quickly to social media and go out of their way to resolve customer issues. Despite this growing trend, there is one company that cannot do anything via social media to help customers stranded, and that twitter handle is knows as @USAirways.
Last week I flew US Airways for the first time since the merger and I must say I was very unimpressed with the USAirways twitter team (and US Airways overall who I known have dubbed USlessAir. Throughout the day I had Tweeted a couple of things to @USAirways and received no response. I then tweeted something to both US Airways and American Air (Twitter handle @AmericanAir) and AA responded within a few moments. The difference in response time was night and day. AA was not able to help me out because I was flying US Metal (w/ an AA reservation number) and recommended I call US Airways customer service.
My “issue” was minor, but nevertheless fustrating. During online checkin I was assigned a middle seat at on both legs of my trip, despite the fact that I had reserved an aisle preferred seat during the booking process. There were still several “choice” seats available, but when trying to book online, US Airways wanted to charge me $90 for the seat. The only only seats that were available without additional payment were in the rear of the aircraft. After waiting on hold for over 20 minutes, I was connected with a US Airways representative whom also tried to charge me $90 for an aisle. I laughed and declined upsell.
Hours later, after I had landed in Phoenix, I FINALLY received a couple of tweets from @USAirways. To my surprise US Airways told me they could not provide customer service support via twitter or at least not reservation support. Thus, further supporting my earlier tweet, referring to @USAirways as #USelessAirways.
Well it turns out that in some cases I was correct. @USAirways is useless as the US Airways twitter handle is staffed by premerger AA employees who have limited access to the US Airways reservation system (SHARES). Due to the AA social media team limited access to SHARES the team relies on a US Airways representative that they can reach out to in extreme cases to help customers in a bind. Yet since the AA Social media team cannot fully utilize SHARES or truely access reservations in SHARES themselves; they cannot override any systems rules nor make changes to reservations. They must rely on a US Airways employee in another office to help and understand the predicament. And this employee may not be as forgiving or helpful as the AA social media team.
As the two airlines continue to integrate it is no surprises that both the @USAirways twitter handle and Facebook page will be sunsetted but a date has not yet been determined as the airlines still operates as two different airlines
Therefore, flyers beware, when you tweet to @USAirways, you’re actually getting an AA customer service representative who is hogtied and handcuffed without the ability to fully access the necessary tools to help. So don’t waste your time with a tweet, return to the 90s and call US Airways customer service.