Early this evening, I saw a retweet to call a New York number with regard to American Airlines and free flights for medical personnel. Of course, thinking it was a fabulous idea in this horrific circumstance, my autopilot retweeted.
A short time later I thought ‘hmmm, I wonder if our airport here will be doing the same thing?’ So, I called the number. Well, it was a busy signal, so I googled the number. Sure enough it was the Haitian consulate. Of course, that’s bad news … so I immediately called American Airlines. At that point, after using the automated service to request ‘agent’ via voice, I spoke with a VERY HELPFUL young man who said he hadn’t yet heard anything. While I was pondering I googled American Airlines and twitter to discover whether it was true.
He, shortly after, gave me two media relations phone numbers (don’t ring them off the hook please) — 817-967-1577 for normal business hours and a message hotline 817-931-1348 for after hours. I left a message detailing my concern about the circulating number on twitter.
The tweet was RTd and RTd and RTd. Shortly after – 15 min ? – I called the regular line again and spoke with ANOTHER helpful young man at AA who said that it was true that medical personnel – THROUGH American Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, and other such organizations were IN FACT flying free of charge but that Red Cross and the like were arranging this service .. NOT AA and NOT the consulate. Of course, shortly after, rumor then circulates far and wide that the misinformation as to contact information was A HOAX … which it was not.
So, long story short, apparently mine was the first call inquiring about this, according to the after hours PR person, and it set off a firestorm. And the twitstorm went from there. I certainly did my best, amongst may others to clear the air, and let everyone know that American Airlines, along with MANY other airlines are providing these services to medical personnel affiliated with other organizations –NOT INDIVIDUAL DOCTORS AND NURSES.
At any rate, I thought it important that people keep their ideas of flying often with American Airlines due to the circumstances – I DO NOT WORK FOR THEM – but they happen to be the most helpful people in media relations I’ve been in contact with for a while.
I’d say, this is a twesson learned for us. We become so used to e-technology that we’ve even forgotten how to use a phone book.
For continuing messages from American Airlines, American Red Cross, or Doctors Without Borders (unverified as of yet) on twitter, please follow: @airwaves, @redcross for accurate and twitter verified info.