It’s Been a Weird Week to Be an Airline
It’s been a weird week for Texas-based airlines. On the bright side, they haven’t had an entire flight disappear with no trace. On the downside, this week has seen both Southwest and American Airlines planes forced to make emergency landings under unusual circumstances, and U.S. Airways’ tweet heard ’round the world. Southwest also had a viral video hit happen when a weird comedy routine from a flight attendant during the safety instructions was filmed, which is mostly a good thing for them—though if an emergency had occurred, it’s unlikely anyone on the plane would have been properly prepared. All in all, it’s been a strange enough week for the various airlines headquarted in Texas (or, in U.S. Airways’ case, about to be) that it makes the fact that American Eagle picked this week to re-brand as Envoy Air seem downright logical: It’s a good time for a fresh start.
The biggest loser among the airlines is U.S. Airways, which had what’s probably the new all-time champion of corporate social media blunders: In response to a complaint from a customer on Twitter, the airline tweeted back, “We welcome feedback, Elle. If your travel is complete, you can detail here for review and follow up.” The URL in the response, however, was not to a feedback form on the company’s website. It was a very graphic image of a naked woman enjoying her time with a toy airplane.
That’d be one heck of a troll job if it were intentional—corporate Rickrolling taken to a whole new level—but, alas, it wasn’t. As the social media observers questioned how on earth a major corporation tweeted out an extremely pornographic image (were they hacked? Was somebody quitting their job in the boldest way possible?), the company investigated: In fact, someone had tweeted the image to the airline, and the employee managing the Twitter account had copied the link in order to flag it and report it to the service. That person then inadvertently pasted that link, as opposed to the intended form, in the response to poor Elle.
“It was an honest mistake and it was done while capturing the tweet and flagging it as inappropriate, our standard procedure,” said Matt Miller, a spokesman for US Airways’ parent company American Airlines Group.
The employee, who is someone tasked with tweeting from the US Airways Twitter handle, won’t be punished. But the airline is reviewing its processes to prevent a similar thing from happening in the future, Miller said.
The obscene tweet was deleted as soon as US Airways realized the mistake on Monday and the airline issued an apology via Twitter.
It’s refreshing to see U.S. Airways stand with their employee in this instance. It’d certainly have been easy to fire the person responsible for the blunder, but mitsakes happen when working in a fast-paced Internet environment.
A mistake that shouldn’t happen, however, is attempting to open an exit door while a flight is in the air. But a Southwest plane was diverted in Nebraska on Monday after a passenger tried to force the door open.
According to the complaint against the Sacramento man, Suggs twice refused to return to his seat, as instructed, before pushing his way past a flight attendant and trying to open a door. Several passengers helped restrain him.
Passenger Monique Lawler told KABC-TV after reaching her final destination in Los Angeles that the man acted strangely during the flight, and that at one point he came out of the bathroom soaking wet. She said when he went to the back of the cabin to try to pry open the door, a flight attendant screamed for help.
That’s a disturbing thing to occur on a flight, though ultimately it was a mere inconvenience, thanks to the fast-acting passengers who brought him down. After the passenger was removed in Omaha, the flight managed to land in Los Angeles a mere two hours behind schedule. Not bad, given what consequences the passengers might have faced had Suggs succeeded.
Another flight—this one from American Airlines—also had to make an emergency landing on Tuesday, after a sudden pressure drop occured on the flight. This wasn’t the work of a malevolent passenger, but the experience of being on a flight with a 20,000-foot pressure drop sounds pretty unpleasant nonetheless:
“It’s sort of like you’re on a roller coaster, really,” said Najmah Walton, of Dallas, who was one of the 133 passengers and five crew members on board the flight to DFW.
“We just went down so fast, because I think [the pilot] said we were at like 30,000 feet and then we went down to 10,000 just like that,” Walton said.
Other passengers mentioned the same sudden pressure loss as the most uncomfortable part of the incident.
“I got up to go to the bathroom and I was so dizzy I couldn’t see what I was doing because my ears were popping so bad,” said Priscilla Hiley, of Fort Worth. “I kept trying to make them pop and they wouldn’t and I thought, ‘Gosh this is odd.’ And then it kind of just got worse and worse and worse.”
None of these make for great PR for the airlines, but at least one flight attendant managed to score a social media win for Southwest: Texas native Marty Cobb scored a viral hit with what’s basically a stand-up routine based on the usual safety instructions. So far, the video of her performance has almost 8.5 million views on YouTube, and scored her appearances on both Good Morning America and Today.
That’s a lot of airline news on what’s an otherwise slow week. What’s going on in the skies? Is this a blood moon thing??