Tweets tell tales of airline disaster, short and very fast

jkrums203.jpgThis is not the kind of Tweet you want. Pretty much every airline, major and minor, uses Twitter, the short-message, mini- microblogging sort of email service. They ‘tweet’ when they have sales or when there’s a tie up at an airport; they also listen when they’re Tweeted, good or (usually) bad. But there’s a new type of Twitter that really disproves the marketer’s old myth that it doesn’t matter what they say so long as they get the name right, and that’s disaster Tweets.

When a Turkish Airlines Boeing landed short and broke apart at Amsterdam’s Schipol, the first word to the public was a Tweet, sent out by a fellow who lives near the airport. “Looking at a crashed aeroplane near Schipol,” he wrote within minutes of the Flight 1951′s impact – which killed at least nine people. His postings, at 140 characters, maximum, were running ahead of the Internet, and Twitter was soon outpacing even that fast-paced electronic communications system once known as the web.

OB-CV833_plane_G_20081221125208.jpgSo also when a US Airways Airbus ditched in New York City’s Hudson River last month, first word – and first pictures, above, courtesy of Twitter - came as a Twitter. Even though the very first was from an eyewitness, some of the survivors of Flight 1549 soon Tweeted. None of these though has the immediacy of last December’s historic Tweet - by a passenger on board Continental Airlines’ Flight 1404, which skidded off of a Denver runway and burst into flames. This Tweet came from a guy right after he got out of the plane and was standing near the runway. The fellow, named Mike Wilson, also posted the picture above.

As a journalist, we can think of a few pluses; as an airline guy, we can think of a lot of negatives to this ‘Disaster Tweet’ trend.

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