There's simply no avoiding the most recent Twitter/customer service dustup that happened over the weekend: chances are you've already heard about how a television producer named Elan Gale got into a heated (and foul-mouthed) feud with a loud woman onboard a plane on the way home for Thanksgiving. While it may seem that this was purely between two irritated passengers, the fact of the matter is that internet services may need to pay attention to these tiffs as well.
Why? Well, partly because Gale specifically included US Airways in his online conversation about "Diane," a middle-aged woman on the same flight he was on overheard complaining to the flight attendants. By Gale's account, this other passenger was being obnoxious and demanding, telling his followers on the platform that this co-traveler was being selfish.
Eventually, Gale ordered a glass of wine for her and wrote a sarcastic note deriding her outburst. But that was relatively tame compared to the profanity-laden exchanges that followed, reported by the New York Daily News, as Gale and his target not only exchanged more notes, but had the whole conversation posted online, much to the delight of online followers.
This has not only sparked media fascination, but comment and criticism as well. Actor Samm Levine even tweeted a message-by-message spoof of the event in which he played the part of a cocky celebrity who was deliberately harming a (fictitious) older passenger while convinced he was an everyman hero.
In the midst of all this, one tweet might have gone unnoticed in which Gale reached out to the official help channel of United and asked for this patron to be removed. He was probably only half-joking.
"I find a passenger on one of your planes to be annoying," he wrote. "If I give you money will you remove her? I want to buy her seat."
What can a virtual answering service or other social media center do when they get pulled in? It's a tricky spot, to be sure: without knowing all the facts, the company can't be seen to endorse either side out of favoritism. And since there might very well be an increase of internet use in air travel soon, it's possible that the pressure to respond to these instances no matter when they break out will build.
But experience can be a helpful asset, perhaps more than anything else, and getting a knowledgeable authority on the subject to help solve these problems for you.