Social media has become a powerful tool for customer service -- allowing companies to respond to customer complaints and issues (and occasionally praise) in near real time. However, when a tweet or Facebook post goes astray, all sorts of problems can result.

Such was the case when today American Airlines proudly announced on Twitter that it was (apparently) starting a new free seat program. The text of the tweet on American Airlines' official Twitter account read:

"You never have to pay for a seat. Our team will help you with free seats if you arrive at the airport without."

You can see why alert Twitter users got all excited when they saw that message. While I doubt they were serious, some potential partakers of these "free" seats claimed they were going to the airport immediately to claim them.

Not so fast.

As an American Airlines spokesperson explained to Travel + Leisure, the tweet was not meant to be broadcast to the entire world -- it was meant to be a direct response to a customer who had a question about the availability of advanced seat assignments. According to the American spokesperson,

"We were actually replying to a customer that had a question about seat assignments on American Airlines. Our reply inadvertently left off the Twitter handle of the person who had asked the original question."

Long story short, American Airlines is not giving away free seats on its aircraft. If you want to fly American, you'll have to pay the good old-fashioned way -- using your credit card to book a flight.

Published on: Mar 20, 2018