Air passengers take to social media to express their displeasure, or satisfaction, over services of flight operators

Every other day, one finds various complaints with the hashtags, #Airline #Customer service #Fail #Shame, slapped on the official Twitter handles of various airlines.

From broken suitcases and misplaced baggage to rude staff and terrible food, a host of complaints find their way to Twitter as air passengers turn to social media to vent their anger, and also elicit responses from the officials concerned.

Late in May, 23-year-old Cherrila Bhutia tweeted about how her baggage was manhandled on a long-haul flight. Furious over her unanswered grievance, she posted on the airline’s Twitter account on Monday: ‘Thank you @flyspicejet for ruining my bag, showing your concern once, and then disappearing!!’

In a few hours, the airline responded, asking her for contact details. “In my case, I’m not even seeking compensation. All I need is a heartfelt apology. I’m glad they replied quickly on Twitter but their promise could go beyond that,” she says. But it is not always brickbats. Some passengers also liberally compliment the airlines.

This connectivity with passengers helps the carriers build a solid customer base in the long term. “Social media, including Twitter, has been an extremely valuable platform for our engagement and customer support initiative,” says an official of Jet Airways.

A survey done by SITA, an IT provider for the air transport sector, says marketing and customer service have turned top priorities for airlines in social media.

****

Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) has decided to equip all its airconditioned buses with audiovisual features in the coming months. It has already fitted LCD monitors in 23 of its fleet of 100 airconditioned buses.

The TV units will screen popular film content, apart from important government announcements, and relay critical contact numbers of officials.

MTC is also creating programming for the AV units that will show details of upcoming bus stops and connecting services.

“There will be a screen in the front and at the back. Visual and audio announcements will be made in English and Tamil. It is aimed at helping the visually challenged and the hearing impaired. Those who do not know Tamil will also benefit from this,” says a transport official.

MTC is currently working on the software for the bus stop announcements. All bus routes are being uploaded, say officials.

More In: Columns | Chennai