Last week's snow and ice storm has left more than 3,000 flight cancellations in its wake all over the country. It's no surprise that customer service center phone lines are beyond jammed. Travelers have reported being on hold for nearly three hours, receiving auto-messages asking them to try again later, and getting return calls hours after reaching out. But some stranded passengers have had better luck on Twitter, where some airlines are helping travelers with impressive vigor. Here's what the airlines can do for you via this social media platform:
2. Check for alternate routes to cities near your original destination. This can save you time if you can't rebook your original route. (JetBlue, Delta)
3. Check flight status to confirm that your flight is set to depart as scheduled. @AmericanAir has been checking in on its customers' behalf, alongside JetBlue, Delta, and United.
4. Explain current delays in more detail. Airlines have used Twitter to explain how tarmac conditions and mandated breaks for flight crew have contributed to post-storm scheduling difficulties, and share news, like plans to add extra flights. Social media teams are sometimes clued into these updates before agents on the phone. (JetBlue, Delta, American, Southwest, United, @USAirways)
5. Change your booking back (or again) if you were automatically rescheduled on a flight that doesn't work for you. (JetBlue)
6. Provide situation-specific tips. JetBlue has used Twitter to reiterate that travelers must arrive at the airport two hours before departure due to storm-related scheduling issues.
7. Share updates on change fees, refunds, overnight options, and how to claim compensation. (JetBlue, American, United, Delta, USAirways)
8. Send a message to the baggage services team on your behalf and track baggage rerouting. (Delta)
9. Let you know when hold times for the phone lines become shorter, or quote an approximate time. (JetBlue)
Note: @VirginAmerica is inviting Twitter DMs, or direct messages, for help. We can't see exactly what they're offering, since the messages are private, but they are being responsive in this way.