British Airways’ Social Media Nightmare Over Customer Promoted Tweet

By Lauren @BubbleJobs

Lots of us have been there. You’ve had a frustrating experience with an airline: either they’ve lost your bags, been delayed or charged you for being less than 1kg over the baggage allowance.

And I bet a lot of you called customer services to complain or wrote a strongly-worded letter but wished there was a way of prompting a better response from the airline.

Well, that’s just what disgruntled British Airways customer Hasan Syed did. When the airline lost his father’s luggage, he bought a promoted tweet on Twitter saying “Don’t fly @British_Airways. Their customer service is horrendous.”


He bought the tweet in the New York City and UK Markets on Monday to publicly humiliate the airline, but didn’t get a response until over 24 hours later – very bad practise for a huge global brand that has just been called out in front of millions of Twitter users.

When British Airways finally did respond to Hasan, their only explanation for the delay was that they only operated between normal business hours, saying: “Sorry for the delay in responding, our Twitter feed is open 0900-1700 GMT. Please DM your baggage ref and we’ll look into this.”

This was a massive mistake by British Airways, as the whole point of social media customer service – especially with an international brand that operates 24/7 – is that they are able to tackle these sort of marketing nightmares outside of normal business hours.

The airline should have had someone constantly monitoring their social media channels in case of emergencies like this one. Even if it’s just alerts set up on the social media manager’s phone to keep tabs on what people are saying about the company, it could have made all the difference in this situation.

The delay in responding to Hasad just infuriated him even further, with him responding: “How does a billion dollar corp only have 9-5 social media support for a business that operates 24/7? DM me yourselves.”

A time span between a complaint and response leaves the tweet with time to grow, spread and eventually go viral. Something BA could have really done without.

Another massive boo-boo that BA made is not checking the status of their complainant before tweeting back to them. When you’re conversing with someone who has already made a huge show and dance about how unhappy they are with your brand, you have to be very careful in every single tweet that you send out.

BA responded to Hasan’s latest tweet by saying “We can’t DM you as you aren’t following us. If you’d like assistance we will need your bagging reference.” Now, not only does this tweet come across as quite rude, they also simply assumed that Hasan wasn’t following them, which infuriated him even further. This prompted him to respond: “Jesus. I have been following you already. Did you even bother to check?

I bet this has social media managers across the world cringing and praying this never happens to them. You can’t get much more of a public platform than Twitter, so you can’t afford to be making silly mistakes like that and make a customer even more furious than he already is.

In this instance, the customer used Twitter in a much more effective way than the brand, and BA’s blasé attitude to social media has stung them badly.

News articles about Hasan’s plight and his revenge have been shared thousands of times, most of them published before BA had a chance to respond, which made them look even worse. So, all in all, a fantastic example of really bad social media customer service.

What do you think? Was Hasan right to take to Twitter and buy a promoted tweet to call out British Airways for losing his father’s luggage? Or was he over the top in his complaint?

I’d love to hear what you think so let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @BubbleJobs 🙂

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