Over the past year, a few high-profile incidents thrust airlines into the spotlight. Scandalous highlights include Kevin Smith being kicked of a Southwest Airlines flight for being “too fat”, Air Canada breaking a young boy’s wheelchair and a Twitter hoax about JetBlue and American Airlines flying doctors to Haiti for free.

Over the past year, a few high-profile incidents thrust airlines into the spotlight. Scandalous highlights include Kevin Smith being kicked of a Southwest Airlines flight for being “too fat”, Air Canada breaking a young boy’s wheelchair and a Twitter hoax about JetBlue and American Airlines flying doctors to Haiti for free.

Each of these events resulted in a Twitter backlash. Some airlines handled their situation successfully, while others got a harsh intro to the power of tweets. Look at Air Canada—they actually took the wheelchair, which belonged to a boy with muscular dystrophy, to an overnight repair shop but failed to mention that to anyone. Thousands of horrified tweeters were left without any idea of the airline’s plans to fix or replace the wheelchair.

But even though Twitter is useful for cleaning up the aftermath of scandal, it’s also valuable for smaller-scale feedback and questions. Take Westjet, for example. Their number one feedback mechanism is still their website’s comment form, but tens of thousands of people communicate via social media on a regular basis. Whether someone mentions an awesome employee, has a question about earphone jacks or is unhappy about cancelled flights, @WestJet responds almost immediately.

Following an airline can also get you some great deals. Most companies post links to great discounts and some even have Twitter-only fares: @UnitedAirlines offers Twares, which are special fares for Twitter users and @JetBlueCheeps is JetBlue’s separate fare sale account. Airlines also hold frequent Twitter contests, such as @VirginAmerica’s “Awkward Family Photo” contest or JetBlue’s 10th anniversary celebration, where they gave away a thousand free round-trip tickets at three undisclosed locations in Manhattan.

If anything, you can always follow an airline for its entertainment value:

@WestJet Can I get a deep discount on a domestic flight by asking politely? It only seems fair.
@mootinator Thank you for asking so politely. We appreciate good manners but don’t have any special discounts for people with good parents.
@WestJet Thanks, I’ll let my mom know.

If you need to kill some time in an airport (which I know you will), try following some random airlines. It’s amusing to see the what foreign travelers have to say, and who know, maybe you’ll score yourself a deal.

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