At this point, I’m sure we’ve all heard about the US Airways flight that plummeted into the Hudson River
last Thursday after it encountered a flock of birds that virtually
collided with its twin engines. Fortunately nobody was injured on the
plane and passengers were quickly boarded on rescue boats and taken to
I think the bigger story behind this event was the role micro-blogging played in the aftermath. Minutes after the plane went down, the first report came from Jim Hanran (@manolantern) via his Twitter account.
He tweeted, “I just watched a plane crash into the hudson riv in manhattan.” He followed the initial tweet with a variety of updates, including, “There are people standing on the wings as the plane sits half submerged in the Hudson.”
Meanwhile Janis Krums posted one of the first pictures of the incident on Twitter via TwitPic with the tweet, “There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.”
Crazy, indeed. Particularly because mainstream media didn’t report the crash until fifteen minutes after Twitter users broke the news. The same instance occurred a couple of weeks ago when a Continental plane ran off the runway at DIA and @2drinksbehind provided the first report via Twitter: “Holy f**king shit I was just in a plane crash!”
He continued to provide the attentive Twitterdom with a
play-by-play account of his experience, even commenting on how unfair
it was that he couldn’t get a drink in the Continental President’s club
after the wreck. “You have your wits scared out of you, drag your butt
out of a flaming ball of wreckage and you can't even get a vodka-tonic.
These two incidents demonstrate the growing importance of Twitter, and micro-blogging in general. It’s much easier to blast out a short blurb (140 characters or less) then to write a press release or prepare a newscast.
Twitter is also making it easy for travelers to get up-to-date information about travel conditions, weather, or anything they need to know. For instance @VegasCom allows you to tweet any question about Vegas and within an hour or so (even in the middle of the night) you’ll have an answer. They also feature a “Twitter Tuesday Trivia” where they ask the Twitterdom a question about Vegas and one in-state and one out-of-state winner receives a gift bag.
The airlines have gotten on board (no pun intended) the Twitter machine as well. @JetBlue encourages Twitter users to tweet questions and has an employee on duty at all times to answer them (Morgan is currently manning Twitter). @VirginAmerica tweets updates, sales promotions, and even announces it's own bday to Twitter followers!
Twitter and other microblogging services are poised to have a huge impact on travel. If there's one thing travelers need, it's poignant, direct information on their travel happenings. The ability for Twitter to connect travelers with suppliers as well as with other fellow travelers could result in a more informed traveler and less stressful travel.