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If I’m Not a Bigshot, Does My Tweet Matter?

How important do you have to be to have your Tweet matter to Southwest Airlines?

This was the topic of a story on CNN today, after movie director Kevin Smith was booted off a Southwest flight for being too fat.

“Dear @SouthwestAir – I know I’m fat, but was Captain Leysath really justified in throwing me off a flight for which I was already seated?” Smith tweeted at 6:52 p.m.In less than 20 minutes, a Southwest Tweeter came to his rescue, offering him a chance to send a direct message which later led to a $100 voucher for a future trip. But next time, heknows, he’ll have to buy two seats, since his girth exceeds the airlines rules for passengers ‘of size.’

Would a regular Joe have gotten this same attention?Well, maybe say a few Social media experts.JetBlue, for example, has six people monitoring the Twittersphere with their ears to any complaints praise or other comments about their service. “We consider ourselves more of an information booth rather than a customer service counter,” public communications manager Morgan Johnston said.

But Southwest didn’t exactly fix the portly director’s problem, since he still had to get off the plane and fly later.So the next time you get in a jam, reach for your iphone and post a cute Tweet. It might be useful in getting you a voucher, or at least a reply.

Searched Again, at the Jetway: A Needless Delay

I recently returned from a quick trip to Cancun, flying out of Hartford/Springfield’s lovely Bradley International Airport.  Sadly, there used to be a little more international at this convenient airport, but Air France/KLM decided to give up their weekly flights to Amsterdam, despite flying full most of the time.  So we have to settle for Cancun and Canada as their international destinations.

When I was in Mexico, getting ready to board the plane, I was surprised to see the Mexican TSA setting up tables right beside where you enter the jetway.  We had all been through security, having donated our water bottles and any large tubes of Crest to their trash, so we were all clean.

Yet after they scanned our tickets, they were having every single person get their carryons and even their body searched again!  The spectacle of seeing these 10-year-old kids being patted down, checking inside the three-year-old’s Batman backpack was ludicrous!

I kept thinking, come on, if you are going to do this to the next 200 passengers, then we’ll never get off the ground and back home.  But they did. Every person had to be searched again, and it took quite a while for our barely full plane to depart.

Was this retaliation for the way we treat our Mexican and other foreign guests when they arrive in the US? It felt very unnecessary and just plain a pain. I hope that this isn’t the way it’s going to be forever!

Don’t Throw Away Your Airline Ticket Stubs!

A friend of mine is just back from Tunisia, which is quite a long way away from our shores. She has some advice for anyone who travels frequently, and wants to make sure mileage is credited.  She suggests that travelers should keep their ticket stubs just like they’d keep their tax returns. Because the only way to prove you took a trip is with that little piece of white paper.

“After returning from Tunisia, I noticed that my Delta Sky Miles account wasn’t properly credited for the flight home. This alluded me because I properly handed the Sky Miles card to the airline agent while in Tunis and watched him type in the numbers and then hand the card back to me along with an airline ticket.

When I returned home, I tossed the ticket stubs in the garbage. I didn’t need them anymore.

But, alas, the Tunis agent must have punched in the incorrect numbers because the transaction never made it to my Sky Miles account.

I’m currently battling corporate to rightly give me the miles but they refuse to budge without that small, torn-up piece of white paper. It’s as if they treat a ticket stub with more importance that a passport or luggage.

But, here’s the part that really makes my blood boil. Corporate can see from their computer records that I boarded both flights. Proof of my traveling from Tunis to JFK with a connecting flight in Paris on January 1, 2010, is easily retrievable from their extensive passenger data-banks. They don’t dispute that.

Lesson learned: keep that receipt so you can mail it to the airline in case of a dispute!

Get Ready for Longer Lines with new Scanners

How much time does it take now to go through security?  Probably longer than most travelers wish. Well, news of the new airport scanners has given rise to the possibility of much, much longer lines as people wait to be scanned for bombs and other hazards in new, bigger machines.

USA Today reports that people are going to have to wait longer for the up to  40 second body scans, versus today’s approximately 10-second treatment of walking through a metal detector.

These are the machines we’ve warned you about—the ones that distinguish between boxers and briefs. They take  up a whole lot of room in crowded TSA checkpoints but soon will be a part of every large airport’s security arsenal.

This month the first of the scanners, with the TSA planning to put in 950 in total over two years. This move was driven mostly by the idiot from Nigeria who tried to light a bomb in his underwear.

Most people, though, after they are familiar with the machines should be able to get through in 15 seconds. Still, we all know those people who who end up ahead of us are usually the ones who don’t get it and take forever!

Padded Airline Schedules Make for Longer Flights

Doesn’t a free trip to Cancun sound good? Yeah, it does, but when you book a ticket six days in advance the flight details are kinda gnarly. I’m not one to complain but I fly out of Bradley at 6 am and spend about four hours in Dallas. It’s only about 3 hours to Cancun but of course, nothing is ever as easy as one hopes when it comes to air travel.  It always takes so much longer some of wish we could just swim instead of spending that much time in the airport bars or mindlessly tapping on our laptops during a terminal wait.Last night I read a story in the WSJ about how airlines have increased the length of time for nearly all flights to pad the schedule by about 30 minutes. Thus, a flight from New York to LA that might have taken five and a half hours five years ago now clocks in at six and a half.

The delays aren’t weather related, it’s all about the waiting time on the tarmac. Planes in lines like cars, one after the other, all trying to take off. It seems that nobody in the airline business believes in congestion pricing, so they go with the will of the people who all want to leave at the same time. So the schedules are padded, and people can think that airlines’ on-time percentages are more impressive.