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."