After the Storm, Airlines Hike Ticket Prices

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Ray Neidl, an airline specialist with the Maxim Group, has been generally upbeat about the airline's prospects for the coming year. He said this storm could pull a few companies out of profitability for the fourth quarter. He noted that the fare increases were announced before the storm but didn't hit the systems until after it.

The delays were compounded by slow airport clearing operations and strong weeks even after the snow was long gone.

"I think operationally, they did everything they could," Neidl said.

Since planes today are fuller than ever before, the airlines were left, he said, with "fewer options for rerouting people."

Those struggling to get through on the phone did have some luck with Delta and their Twitter feed. That's right, the Atlanta-based airline actually have nine staff members dedicated to helping passengers via its @DeltaAssist Twitter handle.

Twitter to the Rescue

"We noticed that everyone was using the platform for promotional/marketing purposes. Alternatively, we saw an opportunity to leverage its communications power to offer real-time customer service support before, during and after travel," said airline spokeswoman Susan Elliott. "As a result, in May of this year we trained a team of customer service agents to use Twitter for resolving customer issues and launched Delta Assist."

Delta does think this effort is detracting from its other customer service efforts -- the airline is one of the few in the middle of a hiring push now. Elliott said the airline is just trying to react to all the different ways customers try to interact.

"We have had a tremendous amount of success, but we do not have all the answers," she said. "Social media is teaching us something new every day and we are doing our best to tap into its power, while taking the lessons learned and advances to improve our efforts."

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