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Want Faster Airline Customer Service? Try Tweeting

It’s another busy day at the Integrated Operations Center of American Airlines, a slick glass and concrete building located on a well-manicured campus near Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, headquarters for the world’s largest airline.The open-plan space on the second floor is crowded with workers’ desks and lots of televisions turned to the AccuWeather channel. White noise is pumped overhead, sounding like the roar of a distant airplane, helping to mute the sound of a legion of employees monitoring the more than 6,700 flights the airline runs each day.In the center of the room is a cluster of desks on a raised platform known as “the bridge,” which…

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Missed Connection or Canceled Flight? 6 Tips for Getting What You Want From an Airline

Last month, when I was flying from New York to Dallas to report about how airlines use social media for customer care, I was having trouble with the online check-in for my Spirit flight. So I decided to conduct a quick experiment: I would call customer service and tweet at the same time, to see which got a faster response.The tweet read:“@SpiritAirlines I’m having trouble checking in to my flight. Can you help?”I pushed “tweet” and then dialed the customer service number. As I was navigating the phone tree, I got this response from the Spirit Twitter account:“Hi Jonathan, please DM us your reservation info so we…

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Richard Russell Stole a Plane in Seattle and Crashed It. How’d He Learn to Fly?

As he flew the stolen 76-seat passenger plane above the Seattle area for nearly an hour on Friday night, Richard B. Russell was asked by an air traffic controller whether he was comfortable “just flying the plane around.”Mr. Russell, 28, a Horizon Air employee whose duties would have included handling baggage and de-icing planes but not flying them, responded, “I played video games before, so, you know, I know what I’m doing a little bit.”Indeed, Gary Beck, the chief executive of Horizon Air, an Alaska Air Group subsidiary, said that Mr. Russell — who died when the Q400 turboprop aircraft he was piloting crashed into an island…

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Facebook Halts Aquila, Its Internet Drone Project

Facebook has made splashy announcements over the past four years about building a fleet of solar-powered drones, with wingspans bigger than a Boeing 737, beaming internet access to people around the world who can’t otherwise get online. (When you have as many users as Facebook, finding new ones requires some ingenuity.)On Wednesday, the ambitious effort was halted.Facebook announced in a blog post that it would no longer build the drones. The company said it was still committed to the original goal of bringing more people online, but that it would instead rely on other companies to build aircraft. A plant in western England where the planes were…

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Test Run: Smartphone Apps for Spontaneous Travel

Have you ever just shown up at an airport without a clear travel plan? If your lifestyle allows for that sort of a lack of planning, but you’d rather ease into such a spontaneous adventure, there are several phone apps that can make unplanned travel feel less risky and more affordable.While travelers have long been able to set up airfare alerts using Google Flights, Skyscanner, Kayak and a host of other web-based tools, the following apps go a step further in helping budget-conscious people who want to go somewhere but don’t know (or care) where. Hopper and Get the Flight OutWithin the Hopper app there is a…

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