Press-Republican

FYI...

April 15, 2014

Travelers fly on Air Twitter

The drama starring Marybeth Cadotte and United unfolded like a serial e-novel.

The Pittsburgh traveler, trapped on a plane beset with mechanical problems, opened the scene with the first lines of tweetologue.

"Stuck on the plane in Pittsburgh. Let's get it together @united," she wrote to the carrier's Twitter account March 21. "Let's fix the planes before u load them with people! We need flaps to fly."

United, humble and contrite, replied with an apology for the delay, adding optimistically:

"We hope to have you on your way soon."

A happy ending seemed imminent when Cadotte reported the arrival of a mechanic.

"Fingers crossed I make my connection in Denver!"

After a short intermission, Cadotte was back, indulging in a burger and a Bloody Mary in the Pittsburgh airport. In her final tweet to the airline that day, either the vodka had commandeered the keyboard or the fruitful exchange had cheered her mood.

"Shout out to cust service twitter @united!" she typed. "Still on my crazy journey but you pulled thru for me!"

Cadotte had relied on Twitter to communicate with the carrier, a savvy decision, especially considering her situation. Through frequent messages, United's social media team could track her case and, when her disabled plane returned to the gate, arrange a new reservation. Even better: She could take the express route to the bar, bypassing the long line of passengers waiting to rebook and avoiding the overburdened call service and the squirrelly airline app.

"There were 200 people from my plane trying to be rebooked with the gate attendant," she said, when I contacted her post-trip. "The United app crashed, and people were on their phones talking to United. Twitter was definitely the way to go."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
FYI...
  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 23, 2014

  • Why it's basically impossible to delete those naked selfies you text

    If you're selling an old Android smartphone on an online auction site, you could be giving away rather more than you intend to, according to a recent investigation by anti-malware company Avast.

    July 21, 2014

  • Why does the Vatican need a bank?

    The Vatican Bank's history reads more like Dan Brown than the financial pages, but its worst -- and weirdest -- days may be behind it.

    July 18, 2014

  • Almost half of the world actually prefers instant coffee

    Americans' taste in coffee might be getting more high-end _with a growing fixation on perfectly roasted beans, pricier caffeinated concoctions, and artisan coffee brewers - but it turns out a surprisingly big part of the world is going in the opposite direction: toward instant coffee.

    July 17, 2014

  • ent_taylorswift.jpg There's less good music now — here's why

    Taylor Swift, the seven-time Grammy winner, is known for her articulate lyrics, so there was nothing surprising about her writing a long column for The Wall Street Journal about the future of the music industry. Yet there's reason to doubt the optimism of what she had to say.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can plants hear? Study finds that vibrations prompt some to boost their defenses

    They have no specialized structure to perceive sound as we do, but a new study has found that plants can discern the sound of predators through tiny vibrations of their leaves - and beef up their defenses in response.

    July 12, 2014

  • wheat1.jpg Backlash has begun against gluten-free dieters

    The swelling ranks of Americans adopting gluten-free diets have given rise to another hot trend: people calling the whole thing a bunch of baloney.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140516-recalls_1357_88cb85dbc81b724b4ae9c83db4426fd8.jpg Auto recalls break single-year US record with six months to go

    With six months left in 2014, automakers have already recalled more vehicles in the United States than in any other year on record.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • The science of shyness

    Shy people have quite a bit to contend with - not least the word itself. It has a number of different meanings, none of which are flattering. To "shy away" from something implies avoidance; to "shy" can also mean to move suddenly in fright; to "be shy of" something can mean to come up short, or be insufficient.

    July 8, 2014

  • Wanna write a pop song? Here's a foolproof equation

    Pop songs (generally) stay in one key, are in 4/4 time, last between three and five minutes, are organized into chunks of four or eight bars, have a repeating chorus played two to four times, include the title sung at least three times, and feature short melodic fragments that repeat a lot to help everyone to remember them.

    July 7, 2014