When An Airline Phone Agent Can’t Help, Try Twitter

Filed Under: Advice, Brussels

For decades telephone was the way to contact airlines, whether to book a ticket, change a reservation or voice complaints. However, most airlines now offer online features for everything, including feedback and compensation requests. Of the airlines I fly frequently, I’ve found that United and Norwegian are stars when its comes to online customer service. The six and two times respectively that I’ve submitted requests for compensation of some kind, my requests have all been honored without a word of objection.

This brings me to a recent situation I had with Brussels Airlines. It’s an airline I love and would gladly choose over its competitors. Unfortunately, my last trip with them this summer, a one-way ticket from Gothenburg to Prague via Brussels, didn’t go quite as smooth as usual.

My aircraft after landing in Prague.
My aircraft after landing in Prague.

Once I landed in Prague I realized my bags had not arrived. I’ve never had problems with connecting luggage in Brussels before, so I thought this was a little strange given my reasonable connection time.

Brussels Airport is usually great for connecting.
Brussels Airport is usually great for connecting.

It was a full two days before my bags arrived in Prague, though I’d bought everything I needed assuming the airline would cover the costs.

When I got home, I filled in the online form and submitted it. Shortly after I received a very positive response promising compensation for all my expenditures.

Brussels Airlines customer service response

The speed and ease with which my case was handled seriously impressed me. The lady at Brussels Airlines customer relations said the money would appear in my account “in the next coming weeks”, which didn’t sound too bad.


One month passed and nothing happened. I sent an email to the Brussels Airlines customer relations again reminding them about my transfer. I received no response. One week later, I sent another one and still no response.

At this point I picked up my phone, around 40 days after the compensation was promised. All I could find on Google was a telephone number to customer service – the same place you call to make or change a booking. I figured that was better than nothing, so I called up and eventually reached a agent.

She was very apologetic and vowed to immediately contact customer relations about my claim to see what was going on. The day I called was a Friday, so she told me I could expect an email from their team on Monday.

Monday passed and again, nothing. I called again and had another apologetic agent give me her name and promised she’d get back to me.

Seven calls and two months later, without a word or email back from a single one of the people I’d spoken to, I was pretty upset. That’s when it dawned on me (and it should have dawned on me a lot earlier) that airlines are often helpful on Twitter nowadays. Luckily for me, Brussels Airlines just launched 24/7 service via Twitter and Facebook, which is awesome.

Here’s a look at the direct messages that followed:



I wrote them on a Friday and received an immediate answer. The next Monday they proactively wrote me again and before I knew it the money was in my account!

Bottom Line

While it’s nice speaking to someone over the phone and getting to express yourself more freely than over Twitter, social media is now the place to go for speedy airline customer service. Whether it be selecting a seat, ordering a special meal or checking the status of a claim. From now on, Twitter will always be the first place I go if I need help from an airline.

  1. I am an older person that is not familiar with social media usage, so I have some questions. When you are sending this stuff over Twitter, isn’t it visible to everybody that “follows” you? I mean, when you send a reference number is it now public? Also, where does one find the #address that one tweets to for the different airlines? Do you have to “follow” the airline for them to see your tweet? Sorry, these are probably dumb questions but I am new at this.

  2. @Val – you can send a direct message to a company via Twitter, which is like a private e-mail. No one else will see it except the sender and the receiver.

  3. Ha, I also had my luggage lost by Brussels Airlines (returned 2 days later) after a connection to Prague! Wonder if that’s a common issue for them….

  4. You probably also have a Baggage Delay benefit from the travel insurance component of the CC you used for the tickets (or the tax portion, if you used miles). Don’t forget that ever-present possibility.

  5. When AirFrance went on strike in July I was on a boat in Greece when I heard that my connecting flight from Athens to Paris (ATH-CDG-JFK) was cancelled. After many failed phone calls, I tweeted at AirFrance and within one hour they had me booked on an Aegean Airlines flight, that also reflected in my AirFrance app. I must say I was pretty impressed with the time it took to sort it out.

  6. Not just airlines, any company. I use Facebook to resolve all my problems with companies. Telephone support blows. Twitter is a little harder and not always as speedy as Facebook , although companies usually have the same (intelligent, articulate) people working both.

  7. @Val – you can send a direct message that is only visible to you and the airline. Simple search Twitter for whatever airline you’re looking for, follow them and send a public tweet telling them you need to send a direct message for support. They should follow you back and at that point, you can send them a private message.

  8. Missed a connecting flight with BA tech issues with plane so i missed a Day after flight with AA, no help from BA in LAX but ticket with AA was F class so they changed that ticket.
    After returning Home i contacted BA through the HP, i Got my EU compensation but the missed flight they keept On claiming i used, after 3 mails they just wrote they would not answer further mails.
    So i used Twitter within 6 hr i Got a Call from BA that they would reimburse the unused ticket, and claiming that the system the other departement used was different, so they couldnt see that i did not use the ticket.

    But i am still waiting for the reimbursement, but i guess the official Way through the HP is not the correct Way.

  9. Daniel wrote: “All I could find on Google was a telephone number to customer service”.

    Naturally, you didn’t look hard enough, or even do enough. Instead, you’re just a leftist push for Twitter and Google, two socialist shit companies out to hurt everyone under the disguise of the lazy who claims they’re offended in the matter.

    In reality, you didn’t finish the process with Brussels Airlines. Rather than go to Google for a phone number, you go directly to Brussels Airlines, fill out an “online form” (which you did)…..

    …. “and [according to Brussels Airlines] provide us with the following documents within 7 days from receipt of luggage:

    — a valorised list of the items missing together with year of purchase (invoices, bank statements, etc),
    — copy of your ticket,
    — luggage label,
    — reference number of the file made up at the airport

    These documents can be sent to:

    Brussels Airlines Customer Relations
    b.house – Brussels Airport
    Airport bld 26 box 1a. 4 – Ringbaan
    B-1831 Diegem

    You can also fax these documents to +32 2 723 81 10.”



  10. I have had extremely different responses from @AlaskaAir. In 2014/2015 I was on an extended trip to South Africa when I was notified that my return routing had a serious problem and that I should call. Of course they did not realize that 1-800 numbers only work in North America with a few exceptions. Eventually I was able to DM them and they very quickly solved my problem.

    In Jan 2016 I also had a problem with Alaska and attempted to solve the problem using a DM. This year they were unable or unwilling to assist – even though it was the same person who I communicated with in 2015.F

    This year I have a J class ticket on EK (using Alaska points) that has a connecting flight from SEA-SFO. I was placed on F waitlist on AS366 in August at which time F was open (no seats assigned). It is now December. I followed up with a DM in the last few weeks and Alaska does not even respond with any assistance.

    So what might have worked in the past DEFINITELY does NOT work today with @AlaskaAir.

    Beware – this might be a sign of the times for the “New Alaska Air”. I hope not but they are not responsive at all at this time.

  11. Dear Melissa

    In a hurry to slag Daniel for not doing the ‘right’ thing – you forgot to notice that he DID the right thing. And even received a reply promising his compensation to his bank within a few weeks. That’s when the problem started. Repeating the process of filing another claim would be fraudulent.

    The problem was that the accounting department did not process the return. Not Daniel’s problem.

    So why then go off on a tyrant about Twitter and Facebook causing the end of the earth?

    I am always amused by the requirements of the Airlines to provide itemized accounts of the required items to be replaced by their losing your luggage – which included date of purchase, a receipt, a credit card statement and a partridge in a pear tree. I wear shirts and socks etc that I have lovingly worn for a few years so when an airline loses them how can they possibly expect someone (me) to have a receipt. When was the last time you kept a receipt for a sock, underwear, shirt, toothbrush, toothpaste or razor?

    Anything expensive enough that you would retain a receipt for SHOULD NEVER BE IN CHECKED LUGGAGE.

    ’nuff said

  12. Quite the hard-on you have there, Melissa. Give it a few strokes and all will be right with the world once again.

  13. I had two very good phone support experiences with Air India and Sri Lankan Airlines. I needed to cancel some tickets and process a refund for them. Internet searches said I needed to first call on the phone to cancel the booking to prevent no show, and then email for a refund.

    Air India has a local phone number in Singapore, though I suspect from the sound quality, it was routed over VOIP back to India. Nevertheless, it took just a few minutes to split the group booking into two and then cancel the single passenger’s ticket.
    I emailed them for the refund and received an automated acknowledgement that the refund would come in two weeks.

    Sri Lankan did not have a local number in Singapore and I needed to call international to Sri Lanka. The hold time was just a few seconds and the cancellation was a few minutes more. As before, I emailed them for the refund and received an automated acknowledgement that the refund would come in two weeks.

    So not too bad. I wait for the refunds.

  14. @Melissa – I recommend you read the post again, particularly the bit about Daniel making 7 phones calls and then take a chill pill. Geez Louise!!

  15. @Melissa – Google may have supported some moderately liberal candidates in the past, but they’re hardly “socialist”. Much like “fascist”, “socialist” is a term thrown about all too often by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Of course, since you seemed to miss much of his actual post, understanding doesn’t appear to be your strong suit.

    @Alan – “go off on a tyrant”? I think you meant “tirade”.

    Look, I know Daniel isn’t exactly the most popular of posters here (especially after the infamous “I cut in line because I’m an entitled jerk and other people can go to hell” post), and he wasn’t exactly breaking new ground in customer service technology by telling us about Twitter, but c’mon folks, if you don’t like him just don’t read his posts. (I actually would have given this one a miss if I’d noticed it was him before I opened it.)

  16. I always go to Twitter, and they resolve my problems immediately. I remember once I had a fiasco with IHG – the hotel wouldn’t call me back after two weeks, I emailed IHG and they didn’t respond for a week, then I tweeted them and lo and behold, I then received communication from them and from the hotel manager. Same thing happened recently – I had a stay, contacted the hotel, the hotel concierge, the reservations desk, and the manager about special requests. Silence for two weeks; then I tweeted them/DM’d them to ask what was going on, and had FOUR people from the hotel email me within a day. I”m not sure why companies have stopped checking their mail, but twitter seems to be the way to go these days.

  17. Wow, I’m currently involved in a battle with Brussels Airlines over EU261 compensations (missed connection, extremely bad handling on the ground). Ironically, this was flight from Prague to Gothenburg. I’ve been denied multiple times before threatening legal action, at which point I received an e-mail just like the one in the article. It’s now been over a month and no settlement in sight. I guess I’ll give their Twitter a try.

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