As a rule of thumb, I try not to ever use social media to bash a brand. It’s just not productive and who knows, one day I may end up pitching that company for business. Once in a while I may publicly express frustration with a brand — not in the hopes that I’ll get something from them — but to either warn friends or to let a company know that they have messed up. Unfortunately, last night one of those opportunities cropped up at the tail end of my flight from Austin to San Francisco.
By way of background, I find myself flying more and more with U.S. Airways. In the past, I’ve been somewhat ambivalent toward them. They were good, not great. They didn’t have wifi or television. No blue potato chips and their flights from Austin to Phoenix (the stopover on the way to SFO) are small and cramped. But with all that said, U.S. Airways continues to be reasonably priced and are pretty reliable. The staff is more friendly than not and in places like Charlotte, NC, they have significantly updated their terminals.
Back to last night. I was on the second leg of my flight from Austin to San Francisco (with a stop over in Phoenix). Because the flight was fairly full between Phoenix and San Francisco — and because I was trying to get every last bit of charge back in my laptop battery — I ended up being one of the last passengers on the plane. As a result, had to gate check my bag which normally is no big deal. Except that at SFO, it means that instead of picking your bag up just outside of the plane, you have to go to baggage claim and wait along with everyone else that has checked luggage. And for some reason, last night was not a good night for SFO and US Airways baggage and they only had one baggage claim belt working for four simultaneous incoming flights. So instead of being in a cab 15 minutes after deplaning, it took me closer to an hour. When it’s 11:00 PM PT at night (1:00 AM for my body since I woke up in CT) and an impending 5:30 AM wake up call coming, the last thing I wanted to do was mess around at the airport.
After waiting for what seemed like an eternity my bag finally arrived. Tired and aggravated, I tweeted “Hey @USAirways, thanks a bunch for making me wait 40 minutes for my CARRY ON bag. That’s why I don’t check luggage. #gatecheckfail” To be honest, I really didn’t expect any response from U.S. Airways. Boy was I surprised (and grateful) when I woke up this morning to the following tweet, “@AaronStrout Sorry about that Aaron. We know your time is valuable and will forward your feedback to our baggage team. ^SV”.
After mulling over this a bit, I couldn’t resist writing a post for two reasons:
- I was VERY appreciative of U.S. Airways response, especially given the fact that it was personalized and empathetic.
- I felt like this was a great lesson to share with other brands; namely that a “sorry” can sometimes go a long way. And guess what, it doesn’t cost anything.
Now I realize that not everyone sees the world the way I do. And that there are probably a lot of folks out there that complain to companies via social media in hopes of getting something in return. But I guarantee that there are an equal number of good people out there that just feel frustrated and being acknowledged by the brand in a meaningful way can go a long way to not only bring about forgiveness but also increase an emotional connection to the brand.
What’s your story? Have you ever had a brand tell you they are sorry? Did it help? Feel free to share in the comments below.