CeCe Marizu, Account Executive

“At least you can make waffles.”  That was the text from my mom when I told her for the third time Southwest Airlines had lost my baggage from Salt Lake City to Chicago.

Of all the things I chose to carry on with me I chose a waffle maker… Yes, a waffle maker.

When I landed in Chicago I had a small inkling my luggage wouldn’t be there, but of course I had a little glimmer of hope in my traveling heart.  I even made a conscious effort to say something in Salt Lake City to the woman checking me in since it happens so often.  I wanted to be sure my bags made it to Chicago this time.  However, once the last bag plopped out onto the carousel, the hope I had was shattered in an instance.

I proceeded to send a tweet to @SouthwestAir about my lost luggage as I walked over to the baggage office.  After all, this had been the third year (2008, 2010, and 2012) my belongings had failed to arrive. I contemplated barging in and throwing up my arms demanding answers!  Of course I didn’t do that because lucky for them this is a routine for me now and that would just be rude.   If you can learn anything from a career in PR it’s to think before you act in haste. I gave them my information and simply asked them why this happens so often.  Could they explain this snafu?

I left the airport with my waffle maker and purse and went home without my bags.  I received a call the next day saying they found my bags and I quickly leapt up and rejoiced! As soon as I caught my breath they quickly called back and burst that bubble by saying they only had one bag and that it would be delivered later that night.  I was still okay with that because at least I knew my bags were coming.

Now fast forward to later that evening… still no bags.  The next day I find out my other bag is in Baltimore.  So in turn, no bags for yet another day.  No shampoo, conditioner, facewash and all the other essentials that I use daily. I finally decided to send out another tweet to @SouthwestAir and promptly got a response from their customer relations rep via Twitter.  Thank goodness for Twitter.

She quickly apologized for the inconvenience and wanted to help in anyway possible. To my pleasant surprise Southwest Airlines learned the importance of customer relations in the social media world.  Companies are quickly learning that in order to avoid a bad PR disaster that goes viral on social media it’s better to quickly detect the source.

Although I had placed many phone calls, Twitter finally became the place where my voice was heard loud and clear because I was able to reach not only Southwest, but also my followers.  More companies need to take a lesson from Southwest and invest in social media customer relations services and help PR departments out when situations turn from the good, to the bad, to the ugly.

So what was the biggest lesson from the lost luggage disaster?  Never underestimate the importance of a tweet and waffles as comfort food.

My bags finally arrived last night! Three full days later.