How I Was Reunited With My Wallet By Virgin America And Twitter

There are two truths about me: I travel a lot, and I lose a lot of things while I travel.

I don’t bother bringing liquids with me, and I’ve lost two iPhones on business trips. There’s nothing more frustrating than constantly losing things. If my head weren’t attached, I’m sure I would have left it in Portland.

This weekend, I arrived home at San Francisco International Airport, and my wallet was in Seattle-Tacoma International Airport at Gate A6.  On the floor.

I was left with exactly one dollar more than I needed to get to my car by cab.

By Tuesday morning, I had my wallet, with cash and credit cards intact, thanks to Twitter and the wonderful customer service representatives at Virgin America.

Here’s what happened:

Missing My Wallet and Getting on WiFi

I boarded the fight. After a 10 minute search for my wallet through my luggage, and realized that I didn’t have it. I did have my drivers license, because I took it out at the gate. I ordered something at a snack bar, so I had change. I knew it was near the gate area and grabbed my computer out of my luggage.

I opened my laptop and logged in to Virgin America’s WiFi service (I think it’s GoGoFlight).

I had used it once before, so I was lucky enough to have my credit card information in their system. I don’t worry about them having my information, because it’s more secure than at a hotel bar. One click, and I was surfing to Twitter.

What went right: I could get on WiFi on the plane.

What could have been better: The free Facebook service was cool, but it would have been better if I could have reached Twitter or Virgin’s customer service for free.

Contacting Customer Service Via Twitter

Finding their customer service on Twitter was super, super easy. I typed in Virgin America, and it was evident their service was used for more than just pushing out fare sales. No wacky handles. No super cool messages. Just @VirginAmerica and “we can help you.”

Real humans with real thoughts (and not angry comments because they are getting paid horrible wages) correspond with customers in a way that makes you feel that they care about the service they provide.

Within two traded messages, Virgin America sent me the contact information of Seattle’s baggage service. Additionally, they gave my phone number to the customer service representatives in Seattle, and by the time I landed, I had voice mail that they had found the wallet. All I had to do was call back, and I would have the wallet the next day — not like some far off tale like my luggage being sent to Hong Kong.

What went right: Everything. It could have gone faster had I followed @VirginAmerica earlier, like two minutes faster. Shame on Twitter for making me wait.

What could have been better: Not much. The tone of the message made me feel that Virgin America cared about keeping me as a customer.

Working with Their Baggage Claim

After a few phone calls, I got a hold of one of their customer service representative (I was impatient with the voicemail). They correctly identified my wallet and made a special effort to get the wallet back to me the next morning, this included driving off-site (get this — the FedEx airport pick up time had past, but their later location was a mile away) to deliver the wallet.

The only odd request is that I had to have a FedEx account number to have it sent back to me. This wasn’t so hard, because I have one. But if you didn’t have one, this would have required signing up at

Within five minutes I had the number to Virgin America, and they FedEx’ed the wallet that evening in time to be delivered the next day.

What went right: They were fully aware how this interaction went, and knew how important this was.

What could have been better: Ironically, it was FedEx that failed here. I downloaded the FedEx application on the iTunes store, and low and behold, there’s no easy place to find the account number on the application. The user has to sign-in to to find the account number. FedEx FAIL, yo.

The Conclusion

I love Virgin America and how they embrace technology to solve human interaction. I don’t have to threaten them within in an inch of a blog posting, and they don’t overcharge to certain destinations. They don’t leave cats in cargo holds to die, and offer $50 for the reimbursement (what would that tweet look like?).

I love the first class upgrades, the great service, the ambiance of the flights that makes it feel comfortable. But every time I’ve gone, they’ve made it a special event — from the time I met Stevie Wonder at their Los Angeles terminal to getting great service in a dire time of need.

This customer experience couldn’t have gone much better. They are fully aware that even in times when a customer could be angry (my flight was delayed by almost two hours because SFO is the gift that keeps giving), a customer can have a great experience, reinforcing the brand.

Read this again: their social media strategy reinforces the brand. How many brands can say that?