Your Online Activity May Make You An Airline VIP

Scene from "United Breaks Guitars," a YouTube video created by a disgruntled United passenger. The video has gotten more than 9.4 million views.

It may seem like airlines don’t care one bit whether travelers suffer through delays, cramped seats, and overpriced, nearly inedible in-flight meals. Perhaps they don’t. But they do care when you complain about it on Twitter.

According to the Wall Street Journal, there have been a number of cases on different airlines where a call to complain gets no results, but a tweet yields the requested frequent flier points, cheap airfare, and other resolutions.

But some question whether it’s wise to offer customers who complain on social media something they couldn’t get by complaining through some other method.

“It may be the squeakiest of wheels, but if we get into the business of responding differently, that’s a very bad game to get into,” said Greg Latimer, MD of brand and marketing communications at Alaska Airlines.

The story also says that besides the social media monitoring that airlines are doing, they’re also using “clout scores” that rate social media activity. (This is a service provides, for example.) We’ve heard that there are Las Vegas resorts that also do the same thing. Those with high scores get perks like room upgrades.