[UPDATED] Extreme social: Passenger buys promoted tweet to poke British Airways about lost luggage

A weird new trend has kicked off in the Twitter world – and where better for it to start to than in the daily battle between passengers and airlines over lost luggage.

A business class passenger who flew British Airways ran a “promoted tweet” against the airline after the carrier apparently lost his luggage.

Hasan Syed, president of Salon Commodities, wrote a tweet in the early hours of Tuesday 3 September claiming that British Airways was unable locate his possessions.

Angered by the whole saga, he didn’t stop there. Syed started running paid-for promoted tweets to place his ire in front of all followers of the BA account.

British airways pax - promotes tweet against BA

One Twitter user asked Syed on the money he spent for this campaign, Syed responded:

“Its not about the money at this point. I’m going to run promoted ads until BA fixes this mess.”

Many followers of the airline have replied to Syed wondering what the promoted tweet is all about.

A BA official tells us:

“We would like to apologise to the customer for the inconvenience caused. We have been in contact with the customer and the bag is due to be delivered today.”

British Airways has two twitter handles – one for its US market, and another is a global account. About eight hours after the original tweet-complaint, the global Twitter handle team responded to Syed asking for baggage reference details.

With Twitter emerging as a virtual concierge in travel industry and when the majority of tweets by passengers in airports are related to customer service, one would wonder why the service by British Airways in Twitter is time-restricted (the “Global account” runs only from 0900-1700 GMT, Mon-Fri).

Syed has not responded to queries about how much his campaign cost.

Clearly the exercise has turned into quite a drama for Syed. His most recent tweet:

“Going to sleep. Will reveal final spend & engagement metrics tommorow [SIC] for the social media geeks”


Syed posted (in his Twitter profile) the total spend and audience engagement metrics for the promoted tweet campaign that he ran:

British airways - promoted tweet by Syed - 1

British airways - promoted tweet by Syed -2

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Karthick Prabu

About the Writer :: Karthick Prabu

Karthick was general manager for Tnooz in Asia until September 2014.



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  1. Sam Daams

    …stating that they had now actually properly looked at my complaint (!) and it needed further investigation).

    And I was actually overall quite pleased with the BA experience, even taking into account their original mistake. If they had just refunded the 600 bucks the case would have been closed but now I’m getting a little peeved myself…

  2. Sam Daams

    As someone who just this summer got stuck on the wrong side of BA’s customer service opening hours, I’ve got to say they have a LOT of catching up to do. I realize some exec somewhere thought that the best place to cut spending, but when you end up with customers stuck in airports because BA has forgotten to issue a ticket for an infant properly, and NONE of your customer service desks anywhere in the frikkin’ world are open, you have taken things too far.

    Final outcome: purchasing a new ticket, and now been waiting 6 weeks+ for a refund. Emails to BA customer service take approximately 2-3 weeks to be answered (I’ve gotten two, one a standard voucher offer and the latest one last week stating that the

  3. Robert Campbell

    Me thinks that Jan Carlzon’s book should still be mandatory reading where customer service is involved.

  4. Kevin May

    Kevin May

    @all – Karthick has updated the post with details of how much was spent on the campaign…

    Money to burn, maybe?

    • Shashank Nigam

      Perhaps he had something *very* valuable in that bag? =p

      • Kevin May

        Kevin May

        @shashank – well if it was THAT valuable then he shouldn’t have put it in the hold then!!!

        • Karthick Prabu

          Karthick Prabu

          I refreshed Mr Syed’s twitter profile at least 10 times today. Whenever I did a refresh, his “followers” count went high.

          A “social media in travel” case study has been derived.

          • Kevin May

            Kevin May


            so, do we know anything about the period between the flight ending and the first tweet to BA about the luggage?

            What experience did he have when calling the lost luggage helpline? How many times did he do it?

            Did he try the lost luggage services of the non-BA carriers that were actually operating the flights?

          • Shashank Nigam

            @Kevin – when I spoke to him, his had spent a couple of days “bouncing around” without getting help from BA staff. I’m not sure whether and how many times he called the helpline, but his dad’s airport experience didn’t yield any results..

  5. Timothy O'Neil-Dunne

    OK so let me challenge this.

    It becomes a question of responsibility. Oh gotta love this! WHO sold the ticket, who was the plating carrier, who was the carrying airline and WHO did the customer think was responsibility?

    Yup BA

    So the issue squarely sits with BA. And frankly (and I am a senior BA flyer) to close your twitter account and even TELL people about this is – just a clear misunderstanding of the medium.

    Sad really – could have been rectified.

    I really hope BA learns the lesson – just like DL did and Jetblue



  6. Timothy O'Neil-Dunne

    I am sure this story will get replayed over and over again.

    It shows however that reputation management is a very complex thing. It also shows BA (who actually pays people and an agency for this work) have failed MISERABLY in that process.

    The good news is that for everyone who is NOT British Airways (today not quite the world’s favourite airline) that there is a lesson here. Real time alert tools are required. Frankly it also shows that anyone who is thinking of setting up a social travel platform had better consider this potential use in the same way that other platforms have been used (and misused) for nefarious ends.

    As I love to say – your airline’s reputation is only as good as the last time you served up your last bag…. correctly.

    To Fly To Serve must have meaning.



    • Shashank Nigam

      Well said Tim, as always. “To Fly, To Serve” lost all meaning in this instance. In addition to real-time alert tools, there needs to be a rapid-escalation process in place, especially in legacy airlines that tend to be hierarchical. This would allow a VP-level person to take a call, and get the social media team to act immediately.

      Karthick – It was actually Mr Hasan’s dad who lost his bag, and asked for assistance, which resulted in the son buying a promoted tweet. And in fact, none of the legs were flown by BA – Chicago-Newark was on American Eagle, and Newark-Paris was on OpenSkies. Our full analysis here: http://bit.ly/PromotedTweetBA

  7. Stuart McD

    Cry me a freakin river.

    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @stuart mcd – i suspect that’s what he wanted.

      Not sure this is going to end as he expected (unless you’re the Mashable gang, in which case it’s superFawesome).

  8. Stuart

    Maybe the clue is with his company USP…



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