As I was leaving for my recent trip to Ireland, I received an excellent message straight out of Twitter-land, one that under different circumstances could have made all the difference between a terrible journey and a wonderful one. The message I got that day was enough to make a believer out of me, and to make me think that maybe Twitter’s Fail Whale and the Nereid Canaries really are watching out for me after all.
I was at the airport with plenty of time, already checked in and waiting at the gate for my flight to Dublin when I saw a scrolling headline on CNN informing me of significant baggage problems at JFK, "causing major delays." Of course, the cryptic scrolling headline provided me with absolutely no additional information whatsoever, so I had no idea what the actual problem was, or if I was going to be affected. I hadn’t noticed anything unusual as I was checking in, but I decided to inquire at the gate desk, pausing just long enough on my way over to send a quick tongue-in-cheek message to Twitter about the baggage delays.
The gate attendant assured me that only American Airlines was affected (I was on Delta), and that my flight to Dublin would depart as scheduled. Satisfied, I grabbed a cup of coffee and took up my seat at the gate once again. I then checked back in with the TwitterBerry application on my BlackBerry, more out of habit than with any real expectation. So imagine my surprise when I found the following message waiting there for me:
I had posted little more than a joke to Twitter, but less than fifteen minutes later I got a response from the travel section of the Los Angeles Times. Here was one of the nation’s largest newspapers actively feeding me specific information about how to extricate myself from what could have been a very dire situation had I been flying American Airlines.
Thankfully, I wasn’t affected by the baggage delays mentioned in the article. But if I had been, it’s entirely possible that the following paragraph from that LA Times article could very well have saved my day:
"It’s so bad that American is offering to allow JFK travelers to rebook through other cities. But you’ll have to hunt for the heads-up, which is flagged in small type on AA’s homepage as “New York Kennedy Baggage Delay Travel Policy,” with a link to the announcement."
So thank you LA Times travel section, and thank you Twitter, for (nearly) being there for me in my time of need. Here’s hoping that the next time I get stuck on a subway underground, you can find a way to get me out of that one too.