Sunday, October 30, 2011

Qantas' Twitter goes to sleep as passengers vent their anger

An extraordinary thing happened last night just hours after Qantas announced its unprecedented decision to ground its entire fleet. Its Twitter went to sleep.

Just five hours into a crisis which left thousands of travellers stranded throughout the world, Qantas decided its customers no longer needed to hear its voice and posted the following on its Twitter feed:

The Qantas fleet remains grounded until further notice. Twitter updates will resume tomorrow at 9am. Visit for info.

It was a move that could be likened to Christine Nixon’s decision to have dinner at a local hotel while Victoria burned a few years ago – although at least she left someone at the helm.

I accept there wasn’t much else Qantas’ Twitter feed could say over and above “sorry”. And responding individually to the Twitter storm that followed its announcement was nigh on impossible.

But to go to sleep? Take the night off? Check out while everyone else was desperate to check in?

Facebook and Twitter weren’t asleep. Neither were the thousands of passengers on the other side of the world who were just waking up to the news that they weren’t going home either.

I’m sure the person feeding the Qantas Twitter account needed some sleep. But surely the company has a contingency in place for keeping the communication going in a situation like this.

It is understandable that many companies have a “business hours” only approach to monitoring and participating in social media discussions – under normal circumstances.

But the extraordinary events of the past few days demanded more. Qantas should have known better. At the very least, its Twitter feed should have soundlessly drifted off the sleep rather than broadcast to the world that it was off to bed.