Social media has been used to topple governments, connect people globally around a common cause and to highlight awareness of issues that may otherwise go unnoticed.
You can also use the awesome power of social media to put pressure on companies or businesses that fail to deliver on their promises.
But today, I want to highlight a company that responded to the pressure of social media in a productive and meaningful way.
Some of you may recall that I was fairly harsh with American Airlines regarding the treatment I received on a March 21 flight from West Palm Beach to Portland, Maine. You can read all the gory details here: Automatic For The People.
I used Facebook and Twitter to express my dissatisfaction with the airline. I waged a relentless battle while the airline repeatedly asked for my patience. It took nearly two months to get a response.
That said, the response I received was meaningful and sincere. The airline explained why the situation happened, detailed the corrective steps that they were taking and agreed with me that they had short-changed me on my compensation for an over-booked flight. It was a lengthy and detailed response. It showed empathy and reinforced the airline’s commitment to customer service.
Since I was particularly tough on the airline, I thought I should share their response publicly. The text of their e-mail is posted below: (Personal information has been redacted)
May 14, 2015
Dear Mr. Seaver:
I’m sorry you weren’t able to board your scheduled flight to Portland and I understand your frustration. You have every right to expect to be boarded on the flights you have reserved. As you may know, airlines overbook to help plan for customers who are re-booked at the last minute or do not show up for their flights. An empty seat on a flight means a loss of revenue, which in turn means higher ticket prices. I realize this explanation doesn’t change what happened, but I wanted to let you know some of the reasoning behind this process.
At American Airlines we are committed to providing a truly enjoyable travel experience, and a warm, courteous attitude on the part of our employees is the key. That is why your email is so disheartening. We did not afford you with friendly customer service at the gate and the Passenger Assistance Counter, and we apologize. Your comments are important and serve as a significant tool in helping to maintain our standards of excellence. I have shared your feedback with the Philadelphia Station Manager to be addressed directly with the personnel on duty at these positions.
Per our Customer Service Plan and in accordance with the regulations of the US Department of Transportation, when a passenger has been subjected to involuntary denied boarding on a domestic flight, the passenger is entitled to one of the following forms of compensation:
* If the passenger’s arrival at his or her final destination is greater than one hour but less than two hours past their original scheduled arrival, involuntary compensation is 200 percent of the sum of the values of the remaining flight coupons of the ticket to the next stopover, but not to exceed $650.
* If the passenger’s arrival at their final destination is two hours or more past their original scheduled arrival, involuntary compensation is 400 percent of the sum of the values of the remaining flight coupons of the ticket to the next stopover, but not to exceed $1300.
Based on the circumstances surrounding your flight, you should have received a check for $[redacted], and we apologize that the check you were given did not meet this amount. I have issued an additional check for $[redacted], the difference between the correct value and what you received at the airport.
Mr. Seaver, I truly appreciate the time you took to share your experience with us. It is always our pleasure to have an opportunity to serve you and hope you will look to the new American Airlines for your future travel needs.
We all screw up sometimes, but it is heartening to know that simply acknowledging your mistakes and taking corrective actions can restore faith and trust in your relationships, whether they are personal or professional.
Kudos to American Airlines for stepping up to do the right thing.