Spain's airports, Iberia soothe passengers on Twitter

4th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Spain's national airport operator AENA and flag carrier Iberia launched Twitter PR operations Saturday to soothe irate and bewildered passengers stranded by a wildcat strike.

AENA created a Twitter account just to handle the inquiries flooding in from some of the estimated 300,000 passengers affected by an air traffic controllers strike during a long holiday weekend in Spain.

Within a few hours of announcing the account, AENA had attracted 2,933 followers.

Throughout the day the airport authority posted scores of messages in English, Spanish, Catalan, Basque and Galician on the progressive re-opening of flight operations.

At 1:30 pm (1230 GMT) for example, it called on travellers "not to go to airports while the airspace is closed." Finally at 3:30 pm it said Spanish airspace had reopened.

"Thanks for all these messages you have sent. Now the priority is to give you real-time information so we cannot continue to reply," it said at one point, later buckling and saying it would try to reply as much as possible.

Iberia, whose Twitter account opened in June and already has 13,671 followers, spent the day answering queries in Spanish from passengers trying to plot their way out of the crisis.

"We ask for your patience, our lines are saturated," said Iberia, which was submerged with questions from individual passengers.

For example, it gave a user called "asceide" the number to call Iberia in Senegal. Iberia asked another user, "brom_melia", for her flight number and family name so it could provide more information.

The airline told "vivianaschweike" that all flights from Latin America had been cancelled. And Iberia reminded "pakontalo" that it was the controllers, not Iberia, on strike although it regretted the inconvenience caused.

By late afternoon, one tweet from Iberia was more reassuring: "Passengers affected by the cancellations may request a ticket refund or change in the days ahead."

© 2010 AFP

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