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Saved by Twitter: How 140 characters can help a stranded flyer

Saved by Twitter_blogPicture this: 27 hours of flying ahead – starting from Sydney via Singapore and Helsinki back to homey Brussels. You embark a plane in the afternoon and start the journey back after two exciting weeks filled with huggable koalas, scorching sun and wide open gumtree forests in down under. First leg – 8 hours, so plenty of time to enjoy fun and games on-board. Some leg stretching at Changi airport in Singapore and then to the gate and a wee bit of surfing before boarding.

Time flies. And flies. And then flies some more. And after all those delay announcements you are finally told at midnight that the plane is going nowhere due to a technical malfunction. And that is how you end up getting one extra country to your ”where I have been” list.

So I woke up the next morning in a Singaporean hotel in the midst of tropical heat, humidity and gigantic tower houses – one of which seemed to house a full-sized ocean liner on top of it. We were all booked and paid for, going was easy and people really friendly – except for those who had left their luggage at the airport and had been travelling for 20 something hours already, poor chaps.

Anyway, after a sizeable dose of very healthy tasting Asian fish porridge for breakfast we started to plan our exit strategy.  Every three hours or so there was a list of people with new routings at the reception. Understandably those with small children and larger groups were dealt with first. But hours went by and my name had nothing written after it every time I went to check. Cheery people were celebrating their return to Europe and our stranded crowd got smaller by the hour. It was a late Saturday afternoon, I was supposed to be at the office at zero nine hundred the following Monday and it was a wrong continent altogether.

That is when (after spending a hefty sum trying to reach the airline customer service by phone) it dawned on me – I would be stuck in Singapore for quite a while if I did not do some innovative thinking. Just to try my luck I googled the airline customer service and what do you know – they also had a Twitter account.  In no time at all I had created my very first own Twitter account and sent off my very first own tweet: “I am stranded here in Singapore. Need to be back @office on Mon. Please advise!” Time went past, I went for a stroll… but after a mere three or so hours they replied, sent me an e-mail and soon I was a happy and very lucky owner of two tickets to Bxl. And just to be on the safer side of karma, I helped out an elderly lady with her tickets as well. All is well that ends well.

I have probably never been happier to be on a plane than when I sat down for my flight to Frankfurt that evening. And never happier to wake up and see continental Europe spreading underneath me than when I woke up the next morning.

The moral of this story is that sometimes it is the unexpected things that get you out of trouble. And that you can fit a whole lotta important info into 140 characters. So – keep on tweeting!

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