The American Airlines social media team deserves a drink—a bunch of them.
As the airline suffered a nationwide computer outage on Tuesday, social media became the go-to source for information on the carrier’s progress. The company tweeted
updates about the outage, and responded to voluminous tweets from customers, resolving issues and wishing passengers safe travels.
It also posted frequent updates on its Facebook page
during the ordeal, including an apology once the matter was resolved later in the afternoon.
“We apologize to our customers and our people for this inconvenience,” the company said.
According to The New York Times
, more than 400 flights were canceled and “scores more” delayed due to a glitch with the airline's computers.
The efforts on social media and on the ground won praise from a number of passengers posting to social media. One Facebook commenter wrote:
“Our Captain has been great. Walking the aisle apologizing. Giving us updates often. Just said the system was back up. Now will just have to get in line with all the other flights leaving at the same time.”
Far from perfect
Everything was far from perfect, though. Several Facebook commenters, as well as The New York Times
, pointed out that gate agents and employees on the ground weren’t aware of the company’s social media updates.
“The agents at ORD [O’Hare International Airport] are saying the social media is wrong,” said a commenter on American’s Facebook page. “They have not heard any updates. Come on AA, be consistent. Communicate with your agents.”
The system returned around 4:30 p.m. E.T., about three and a half hours after American announced that employees were unable to access the company’s reservation system. Initially, it blamed the outage on Sabre, a reservations and booking tool common among airlines, but that was later proved false. On its Facebook page, American apologized to Sabre for making the claim.
The airline said that Tuesday’s technical outage was unrelated to the tragic events in Boston. American waived fees for reservations changes, agreed to honor fare differences if passengers booked through another carrier, and offered full refunds.
Social media commenters noted that they were having trouble rebooking or canceling their flights, resulting in hundreds of dollars of additional fees.
People still angry
Despite the effort on social media, untold numbers of passengers remained upset with the airline. Not only did the computer glitch ground 670 flights nationwide, but also stranded hundreds of passengers on tarmacs. With nothing to do but wait, those passengers started griping on social media.
There was the angry business traveler:
“More words. No action. It is always something with American. This is why you will likely go our of business soon. As a frequent Biz traveler who works for a Fortune 10 company I can safely say I will NEVER book American again. So sick of being treated this way.”
The very angry traveler:
“Shame on you AA. This was monumental failure on every category.”
The disappointed bride-to-be:
“Sat on the runway for 2+ hours and have now been told we have to return to the gate. This is the start of my wedding week! Not happy!”
The thirsty man:
“Could use some water in dfw.”
And the man with real
“Help. Need to use restroom.”
A number of commenters also came to the company’s defense, praising the patient employees at airports. For instance:
“I just spent the last several hours at DFW watching crazy inconsiderate passengers berate AA employees for this delay. My hat is off to the employees. They handled the negativity with utmost professionalism. To the inconsiderate jerks you are all VIPs in my book. Very Immature People.”
Meanwhile, another commenter offered some perspective:
“I agree that, if you are alive and well, you need to count your blessings!”
American, which is still in bankruptcy, did not respond to PR Daily
’s request for comment.