Things aren't as bad as Monday or Tuesday or yesterday, but it's been tense at the airports. Late yesterday, the Post reported that Qatar Airways customers freaked out at employees when they "were told the airline’s planes wouldn’t be able to land at JFK. The passengers have been waiting for flights to take them back to cities in southeast Asia. Airline representatives were trying to convince passengers to take a bus to Washington, DC, where two airplanes were ready to depart. A ticket agent who stood on a chair and screamed for people to calm down elicited a roar of protest from the crowd."
And those were just passengers who were in the terminal (still, no fun)—what about the passengers wilting on tarmacs? The NY Times spoke to a woman who was on a flight sitting on a JFK tarmac for six hours after a 10-hour flight, "After they announced it would be another hour and a half after the original hour and a half, it became pandemonium. People were walking around, moaning, yelling. Children were screaming. People were complaining about children screaming." That's because the law that says grounded flights' passengers must be allowed to leave after a certain amount of time only applies to domestic flights.
The Times also had an amusing story about the burst of complaints about various airlines on social media sites.
Airlines still prefer that travelers use the phone. Arranging itineraries in the limits of a 140-character Twitter message is not always efficient. And many of the people monitoring Twitter sites for airlines are not ticket agents nor do they have a secret stash of seats.
“We consider ourselves an information booth rather than a customer service channel,” said Morgan Johnston, a JetBlue manager of corporate communications. And airlines only have a handful of people working Twitter and thousands working the phones.
But that does not always help. Susan Moffat of Oakland, Calif., spent 48 hours trying to get through to JetBlue this week. She wanted to get back home from a visit to New York. She finally connected and, after holding for an hour, secured a flight back on New Year’s Day. The agent told her she might have gotten a quicker response if she had used Facebook or Twitter.
A casual Facebook user, Ms. Moffat said, it never occurred to her that traditional methods of communicating might not be good enough anymore.
“My question is, in order to book an airline reservation am I going to have to be friends with a company?” she said. “What about a phone call?”
Still, she realizes that might be a very old-school option. “It’s like trying to talk to my kids on e-mail,” she said.