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Fly with the Twitter bird

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If you travel a lot and run up against airline delays and lost luggage, you may be able to get faster service via Twitter than by using a squirrelly airline app, calling or standing in line to rebook.

Some tweeting tips:

1. Follow the airlines you fly most. This lets you know about fare sales and rule changes. It also gives you a stream of frequent flier commentary about how the airline handles situations like refunds.

2. Make your tweets sing. They should reflect a certain optimism, whether you’re complaining (“Stuck on the plane in Pittsburgh. Let’s get it together @united.”) or praising the carrier (“Shout out to twitter cust service @united! You pulled thru for me!”). Steer away from rants (“@united should not have robots like ^KP re­­spond­­ing to tweeted complaints.”). As it happens, ^KP is a real person, Karen Petrella, and when you talk like that, agents may not tweet back.

3. Tweet early and often. If you sense an oncoming delay, don’t wait for the worst. Tweet early so the agent can start pulling together your backup plan. Above all, don’t get mad and unfollow the airline, making it impossible for the agent to contact you after she’s found two alternative flights.

4. Keep private info private. Give the airline rep useful info, such as your flight number, scheduled departure time and destination. Email, reservation number and other personal data should go by direct message only.

5. Be sensible. If your situation is complex, you may be better off speaking with an agent by phone or at the counter. Still, start out with the social media team.

Source: Andrea Sachs, The Washington Post.

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