Delta Air Lines Uses Twitter to Solve Issues in Real Time

When a passenger on Delta Air Lines recently missed a connection in Atlanta en route home to Utah from South Carolina, he didn’t rush up to the ticket counter. He simply sent a tweet to @DeltaAssist. Within minutes, the airline had rebooked him for the following morning.

Rather than just monitor comments, Delta has a team that uses Twitter to remedy passengers’ real-time complaints—changing flights, finding lost luggage, or sharing details on weather delays. Delta’s Twitter account is run by customer-service employees who use the direct-message function to privately swap information and view passengers’ itineraries. The account is watched from 8 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. New York time on business days. But why is it closed on weekends?

Delta maintains a main company account as well as the one dedicated to service issues, @DeltaAssist. Remedying complaints via Twitter also scrubs the carrier’s image, because passengers camped out in airports after late or canceled flights have time on their hands to grumble online.

That type of rapid response can help prevent some of the image-destroying incidents on other airlines. Remember the outraged tweets when Southwest Airlines bumped movie director Kevin Smith because he was too large to fit in a single seat on a full plane? Or the hugely popular YouTube song and tweets that followed a guitar the creator said was broken by United Airlines baggage handlers?

Bloomberg BusinessWeek has a nice rundown of Delta’s tweepforce vs. those of other airlines here.