Picture if you will, sitting in a lounge at the airport after a less than satisfactory flight. Apparently, you were overcharged for a rum and Coke and didn’t realize it until you were disembarking.

As you wait for the shuttle to take you to your hotel destination, you log onto Facebook, grouse a little about the incident in your status, then proceed to forget about it.

This is your captain speaking. Our estimated flight time is two hours. Also, we stocked more of those pistachios you like, Karen Smith!

On the return trip, a flight attendant hands you a rum and Coke, and tells you it’s on the airline’s dime.

But you didn’t complain to the airline itself; you simply vented on social media then let it drop. What’s going on here?

What’s going on is a new level of hospitality that may make scenarios such as the one mentioned above a commonplace occurrence.

Social Media Strikes Again
Qantas and KLM airlines have instituted technology and personnel that allows them to easily monitor digital conversations posted on social media.

Rather than doing a search by keyword, the airline’s customer care teams monitor via GPS co-ordinates.

By pinpointing feedback to a specific location, the staff can institute measures to correct the complaint.

KLM actually has a staff of 130 people dedicated to monitoring social media platforms. If there’s a complaint posted on, say, Twitter or Instagram, the airline has introduced an estimated response time to a complaint, and currently, that time comes out to about one hour.

So, it would seem, that some airlines may be ready to step in and resolve an issue, even if you don’t report a problem!

The Future Of Airline Customer Service?
Thus far, only Qantas and KLM are employing these customer service practices, but according to Local Measure, an Australian social media start-up that works with Qantas, other airlines are planning on bringing that technology to their own passenger lounges.

This should come as no surprise, really, since many corporations these days are turning to social media in order to get a competitive edge. It’s inevitable that airlines would go down that road as well.

A Better Flight Experience
These days, it seems that flying comes with more annoyances than it did twenty years ago. Prices have gone up, new security measures and restrictions have been instituted, and if you want to check in even one piece of luggage on most airlines, you better get ready to pay for it. It’s nice to see that some airlines are taking a good look at social media and deciding to use it for improving the customer’s experience.

Now, this new way of doing things does come with a downside. For those people who are paranoid about being monitored, this experience could be rather unsettling.

Although there is definitely an amusing side-effect: consider, if you will, how many people really let it all hang out when posting opinions or gripes on social media sites. Now imagine someone really swearing up a blue streak on their Facebook status, only to be approached in person a half hour later by a member of the airline staff, smiling sweetly and offering to fix the problem, with a “Hello, we read your post and want to help!”

This article was contributed by John Terra. John has been a freelance writer since 1985. He writes about everything from SEO tips to reputation safeguarding sites. The whole paying to check in luggage thing really annoys him.

Photo Credit: Drewski2112