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It may not be a spy novel but activity on the American Airlines fan page seems to read like a thriller in its own right. There certainly seems to be some serious intrigue: Customers arguing, fighting amongst themselves and positioning for defense in squabbles that seem to border on feuds. And it’s all over customer complaints – or that’s the theory anyway. It may sound weird. Maybe it is. If consumer suspicions or allegations are right, the most intrigue could lie in the idea that some ‘customers’ may not be customers at all. One social media wall may be about to break.
Customers continue to accuse Facebook user accounts on the American Airlines wall space of being employees. The world's third-largest airline claims employees aren't allowed to participate through personal accounts -- but that's not what's happened. Wacktrap has just discovered one confirmed American Eagle Flight Attendant who's popped up repeatedly on the company's Facebook wall. Another user who seems to be fond of customer-bashing warrants a much closer look: The "Kyle Farrell" who frequents AA's Facebook wall happens to have a name that matches one on a Master Seniority List of American Eagle Flight Attendants. That FA with seniority is based out of Chicago O'Hare (ORD) Airport. The Farrell on Facebook just happens to have moved to 'The Loop' in Chicago only months ago. But it may be a screenshot -- of what looks like an airline reservations system -- that seems most telling. It's time for some answers, American Airlines.
Are AA employees infiltrating the Facebook Fan Page as consumers have suspected -- in responding to customer complaints -- on the social media wall? The company’s been accused as recently as last night, April 24. That's not a new occurrence. Consumers have accused or the made the insinuation multiple times this month already. And customers just may be right. Wacktrap.com has discovered some interesting things during an investigation of AA 'fan page' activity. Is a company or its employees interested in chasing consumers off the social media space?
Brands on Facebook and their use of social media has been a hot topic lately. Facebook recently introduced a Timeline for businesses feature, which could logically help businesses in the ability to receive private messages versus only wall posts. It’s hard to accuse a company brand of deleting complaints that never publicly appear. Deleting posts or comments may be one angle some companies utilize. But is it possible a company might use a totally different tactic to help discourage or prevent customers from making negative posts or complaints about a brand?
Just days ago a self-described journalist made a visit to the American Airlines Facebook wall. Her post didn’t seem overly appreciated. Stating she was “appalled” by a recent trip with the airline, her post seemed to include an open call to consumers for their contact or experiences. The fact that she didn’t get any takers may be the least strange in occurrences that followed – with what some may view as odd responses by customers, even at face value. “Media is biased,” claims the account of Wendi Nichter Dupuy. “Report only the facts, let the public make their own decision.” There’s commentary from a separate account, about Facebook not being Twitter. A journalist having followed the page might find other factors equally interesting -- like what seems a strange coincidence that each and every responding account, to that post, happens to be a fairly frequent contributor to the social media space for American Airlines at some point in time.
But those not following may still have been interested in what seems a very unique comment, popping up in response to the journalist post -- perhaps reminiscent of a ‘nothing to see here, folks – move along’ type of mentality. One “Jeff Walker” had some input to the journalist post. It wrapped up with the words: “as a member of the media, I can tell you there’s no story there.”
If the “Jeff Walker” who so frequently contributes to the AA fan page is a “member of the media,” he may have more time on his hands than most reporters could possibly imagine. He’s been a contributor on the wall space, frequently at times. And maybe there wasn’t exactly the story the self-described journalist imagined. But if the overall comments to the call for complaints seems odd – or even unlike regular input from consumers who may prefer to skip chiming in over an issue that isn’t pertinent to them -- it may be less odd than other things. Say, for instance, what seems to be a public disappearance of that April 2012 post.
If a reporter was looking for a story pertaining to air travel, American Airlines or social media, there may have been one in the form of a slightly different version – maybe far beyond imagination of some. Things don’t start with a quote but, if original customer suspicions and further investigation by Wacktrap do show correlation, some words may just become famous – or infamous.
The words belong to one “Kyle Farrell,” a frequent contributor to the American Airlines fan page (“wall”) since at least 2010:
June 8, 2010: “You’d think if those who complained here [the American Airlines fan page on Facebook] realized that nobody ever agreed with, supported, or sympathized with their ridiculous complaints… they would just go away.”
There are some other words that may be equally memorable – appearing in a November 1, 2010 post by Farrell. From the AA account came a message one day later. An image or screenshot from Farrell reflects what seem to be five scheduled flights over roughly just a two-week timeframe. The words from American Airlines.: “Wow, Kyle, do you ever slow down?? Not that we’d ask you to, but we hope at least one trip is for pleasure!” The image included by Farrell looks like an awfully lot like it represents, say, a reservation system.
There’s been accusation after accusation over at least the past couple of years, that seem to have a recurring theme. Names may vary. Some appear to be consistent. Is the American Airlines public Facebook fan page being infiltrated by accounts of employees somehow tied or related to one of the world’s largest airlines?
If a name listed on a Flight Attendant Master Seniority List for American Eagle happens to match up to one of the AA fan page’s most frequent users -- or if one flight attendant happens to remain employed by American Eagle -- a social media wall may be about to break. Accounts have been questioned by consumers as recently as this month in April. And it’s been more than one consumer raising the question. The company seems insistent to the contrary.
Again in April, American Airlines again reiterated a policy -- that employees are not allowed to participate in the social media space on Facebook from personal accounts.
Appearances aren’t everything. If they do mean anything, some may find it odd to discover consumers hotly debating, insulting, or even attacking one another online in discussions that often seem to be sparked by -- or start with -- a posted customer complaint. To some, infighting, snide remarks or battles on the American Airlines wall of Facebook may not make sense. In online spaces, consumers can often be seen online helping one another -- the reason Wacktrap.com was created. And yet responses to complaints on the AA wall has seen, time and again, customers questioning who is who – even as recently as this month.
There have been some recurring contributors to the American Airlines timeline, its posts, responses, comments or contributions – at least as far back as 2010. The company Timeline doesn’t seem to appear for any further back in time despite previous conversations in the space. Some accounts on the AA wall seem to provide input frequently, inclusive of what appears to be a rather extensive knowledge of things like the aviation industry, planes, or the stuff plane-related. There is sometimes a disappearances before an account may pop back up in participation. A number of accounts on the wall seem to be represented as frequent fliers. But every consumer isn’t quite buying that theory. Maybe there’s a possible reason.
Of course customers can suspect or even allege a serious problem exists. It’s been done. Those suspicions have been voiced time and again on the American Airlines wall by participants. The problem consumers face in suspicion is proof, correlation -- or some serious indicators to help dump the apple cart. Without those things, stuff just might become slightly less available.
One of the most recently accused accounts participating on the AA fan page seemed to disappear fairly quickly from public view, after being highlighted in a separate forum in mid-April. The account of one “Chiim Richalds” – a participant on the AA wall space -- now seems more difficult to view, after an off-site concern of the account being suspect was raised a bit over a week ago on April 15.
History of American Airlines participation, comments or contributions on its wall space, since 2010, shows some frequent contributors. Consumers have continued to raise suspicions over accounts including the likes of one “Duane Clark,” who seems to be an extremely active user, often seen on a daily basis or throughout the day – responding to about five posts April 24 alone. His responses are usually in response to complaints. Clark’s comments have often seem aimed toward the negative, or what consumers what even view as jabs. And then there’s one “Adam Hickey,” an account with a non-public profile picture – another frequent contributor who responds to complaints often. He put in his two cents on the AA wall -- roughly six times alone during the hours of April 24. But if there’s a problem as consumers have suspected, a couple of accounts may equal ‘leaves’ – a multitude of accounts ‘roots’. It seems possibly those roots may be deep or widespread.
A multitude of accounts may be worthy of more than a glance -- a number addressed by consumers. Today opens with a look at two. If these profiles happen to be immediately shut down or hidden from public view, such an act may provide one form of an answer.
Enter “Heather Marie Schneider” (http://www.facebook.com/hshcneider) and “Kyle Farrell” (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=78400631) -- accounts viewable after log-in to Facebook. There's already an update with reaction from someone or some company, after this April 24 investigation into history and accounts appearing on the AA wall and interacting with customer complaints: Right now there seems to be a 'new' version of "Kyle Farrell" for the identical account. And his profile photo doesn't look anything like the man who identified himself previously.
Both are contributors to the American Airlines fan page, interacting with consumers in the public space since at least 2010. The two account for hundreds of comments, posts or activity via Facebook – many in the social media space dedicated to the AA company. That would be the same social media space where the company claims it does not allow employees to post from personal accounts.
At first glance the Facebook Maps feature may seem to represent a couple of individuals who, at least by appearance or lack of logging, don’t seem to travel much. Lack of activity may seem incongruent for accounts that frequently appear on a fan page dedicated to air travel -- like American Airlines. But there seems to be a larger link to travel than meets first glance.
By her own admission via the AA wall, Heather Marie Schneider was an airline Flight Attendant (FA) March 2010. Months later, in May, she was specifically named as an FA on board an American Eagle flight. But by that time, the identified American Eagle employee had already been active on the AA social media space, known as a ‘fan page’ on Facebook, for the airline. And she remained a contributor -- also, interestingly, involved in conversations on the social network where she defends other Facebook accounts as not being employees of American Airlines.
If there are other instances where Heather Marie Schneider clearly identifies any role with the company, they seem scarce if existent. She certainly doesn’t identify any employment role throughout a multitude of repeated, online interactions with those visiting or posting to the AA wall space – in discussions where she interacts with visitors. The activity isn’t limited to two years ago. The Schneider account has appeared on the American Airlines wall as recently as this month, April 2012. It’s interesting timing.
While consumers have continued to voice allegations of suspected employee activity in that social media space, as recently as this month, American Airlines has again publicly put forth words to combat concerns. April 2012 the company states, via the fan page: “we don’t allow employees to post on our [AA Facebook] page from their personal accounts. Keep in mind that while many customers come here for assistance… some of our most frequent fliers and biggest fans also come to what we call our ‘Facebook Fan Page’. We ask that everyone be respectful to each other while sharing thoughts, ideas, and concerns.” Those may be very memorable words. The company has said similar before. And yet the allegations have continued.
Schneider’s April 2012 activity seems to have gone missing from public view at some point in April. It’s not the only thing not easily found. Parts of April and a substantial part of March seemed to suddenly shift, or disappear from view, on or around April 10, 2012. After viewable portions dated back to nearly mid-March after that timeframe, some dates and posts began to reappear. Others don’t seem to have returned. If it was a glitch, perhaps it’s a long one. As of April 22, there seems to be a gap between approximately March 28 and April 14 – in what amounts to roughly two weeks’ time under the ‘Posts by Others’ viewing option.
Call it strange coincidence: At least two of Heather Marie Schneider’s most recent comments to the AA wall took place in the batch of days preceding April 14. Something else happened in that timeframe. On April 15, 2012, someone posted off-site from Facebook, naming two accounts they seemed to personally find suspect: That included the “Chiim Richalds” account no longer publicly showing, and at least one comment by a customer referring to the Richalds account existence. Activity for the Richalds account had actually appeared on the AA wall previously. But it seems to have vanished from view after the naming, despite a Google search view and screenshot from a customer confirming its – at least previous -- existence.
Heather Marie Schneider has had a number of things to say on the AA fan page. Scheider called a customer a ‘Tool’ in the social media space in early March, 2010. Whether or not she had an argument, the question is whether Schneider should ever have been involved in the discussion to begin with -- if working for American Eagle at the time. If Schneider was an employee, the answer would seem to be ‘no’ per the AA reference to posts by employees from personal accounts.
In a nation that certainly holds more than one Heather Schneider, the middle name of ‘Marie’ slims the list -- particularly when paired with occupation of Flight Attendant. Aviation website Airliners.net has a registered member of the same name, and FA occupation. That Airliners.net user may not have a profile picture, but does carry a unique username of ‘precious072177’. And ‘precious072177’ happens to be the beginning URL for the Blogspot.com space dedicated to “Tales of a Gold Wing Diva.” And that Blogspot.com photo seems to match the Heather Marie Schneider so active on the AA wall space on Facebook.
Schneider also appears on Twitter with a handle of, perhaps not surprisingly, ‘goldwingdiva’. And that profile carries a Flight Attendant description: “Isle Donkey, coke slinger, flying cocktail waitress, mind reader, oh miss AKA flight attendant.” The account doesn’t seem outdated in activity, at least not as of April 19, 2012. Schneider also appears on on LinkedIn – where she’s specifically listed as a Flight Attendant by trade, for none other than American Eagle Airlines. And then there’s a blog, that appears to belong to Schneider, titled “Trouble… Of The First Class Variety.”
A reference to First Class. A premium class -- whether First or Business -- would be an interesting twist. And it seems a possibility if the May 12, 2010 conversation that took place on Facebook has anything to say about it. “Maybe now [sic] will quit making fun of how small my office is now that we have first class,” says Schneider in an AA wall conversation, that May. After a return comment about that ‘office’ only needing Italian leather seats, Schneider responds: “The seats are leather.” If a coach section happened to include leather seats as a norm, it might prove one popular airline.
Schneider’s had some words for consumers. It’s on or near March 25, 2010 when she announces via the AA wall space: “you assume that everyone on here who doesn’t agree with you MUST be an employee.” That comment has an interesting finish: “maybe you will enjoy this “fan” page better… Misery loves company,” says Scheider. The included link takes a visitor to a dedicated page on Facebook -- for those who hate American Airlines. If anyone can’t take a hint, Schneider’s May 29, 2010 comment to another consumer seems clear: “there are a lot of other airlines out there for you to choose from that may better suit your future travel needs.”
Less than two weeks ago on April 12, 2012, Schneider chose to spread the word apart from the AA fan page and social media space, through a shared photo -- reading: “Flight attendants make better lovers.” Here’s a question: Are flight attendants better lovers when it comes to customer complaints?
When (what may be) an enthusiastic American Airlines fan posted via the AA fan page, “Hey!! AA has 50,000 fans!! You know why I fly! *jumping up and down,” on March 21, 2010, Schneider had a response: “That is awesome… but who is actually a fan and who just likes to post negativity on here [AA wall on Facebook], that’s the question!”
If birds of a feather have the potential to fly together, at least in terms of potential career choices, a response to a status update posted by a relationship on Facebook may be telling. And it’s pretty recent.
When Heather Poole -- a well-known Flight Attendant and author unrelated toany consumer allegations concerning the American Airlines fan page --posted a public Facebook status update, one account was among the first to respond months ago, last December. “American Airlines plans to lay off THOUSANDS,!” announced Poole December 15, 2011. Potential for company lay-offs and an issue hitting mainstream media may have been news to some. Apparently it wasn’t news to all. Heather Marie Schneider’s response that day: “it’s started.”
At least at some point, Heather Marie Schneider seems to have been in Chicago. That’s what her resume says. It is convenient to be relatively close to an airport. Coincidentally, someone else seems to be in Chicago. One “Kyle Farrell” – another frequent contributor to the American Airlines fan page on Facebook. His Facebook events for January 2012 seem to include a move to ‘The Loop’ – in the Chicago area.
Maybe coincidentally there’s a Kyle Farrell listed on the Flight Attendant Master Seniority List for American Eagle Airlines, updated in late December 2011 – that employee listed with a base out of Chicago O’ Hare (ORD).
The Kyle Farrell so active as a social media contributor for the American Airlines wall space has had, what many would probably find, some interesting things to say.
Whatever Schneider’s role in public American Airline discussions via the company fan page, words may pale in comparison to others directed toward consumers. Like Schneider, Farrell’s activity on the AA social media space appears to date back to at least 2010. Schneider has publicly seemed to insist, when consumers raise suspicion, that other accounts appearing on the AA wall do not work for American Airlines. Kyle Farrell specifically has been vocal about denying a role with the company or having involvement, through those like a June 8, 2010, question: “Why does everyone immediately assume I’m an [American Airlines] employee simply because I don’t agree with their absurd [consumer] complaints?” According to Farrell: “ I’m just one of very many satisfied frequent fliers.” He seems to have tags to prove it.
A December 26, 2010, status update by Farrell displays a set of issued ‘Executive Platinum’ luggage tags -- emblazoned with his name. That status has some text: “Another wonderful year of flying is in the not so distant future I see.” Despite only one publicly-listed air trip to Rome, on a Facebook profile created more than six years ago back in 2005, those tags and accompanying words might seem to back a theory of ‘frequent flier.’ Maybe Kyle Farrell is a ‘frequent flier’. But has the Kyle Farrell, frequenting American Airlines’ fan page on Facebook, been ‘just’ a frequent flyer?
The Kyle Farrell appearing on the AA wall may arguably be a man of some memorable comments – like a February 12, 2010 comment to a consumer: “Are you disgruntled because you received poor service, or because you asked for a free upgrade and weren’t given one?”
August 24, 2010, Farrell tells a consumer that “if you came here [to the AA fan page] for sympathy, you won’t get it,” followed by a suggestion that the user “go elsewhere and complain.” It’s a thought Farrell completes with a cheerful happy face.
One day later, August 25, Farrell contributes a lengthier sentiment in response to a separate AA complaint: “In this event you were compensated, you just felt undercompensated. Once again, posting on here [the AA fan page on Facebook] will not help your situation.” If the customer could possibly have missed any point, the finish by Farrell seems pretty succinct: “Nobody here likes you or supports your cause. Bothering fans on a Facebook page is not going to solve anything.” It may seem amazing.
When the originally posting customer responds: “I honestly could care less what you think,” Farrell quips: “Wonderful! So everyone on this page including American Airlines feels the same as you! We honestly could not care any less about what you think or have to say. You’re excused now.”
If comments are intriguing, the idea that an account might actually suggest a vote to boot someone off social media – in a debate over a complaint – may rank among startling. March 30, 2010, Kyle Farrell contributed a public message to the AA social media space: “Another vote for getting rid of Justin [sic] permanently.”
It’s March when Farrell posts a suggestion to boot a user off the social space. It’s about four months later, August 12, 2010, when he’s got a comment that includes a follow-up: “I had one bad experience with AA. I’ll act like a child for the next 3 months and just randomly post negative comments about AA… that will be the mature and adult way to handle this situation! –Stacy [sic]. I guess there will always be a Justin [sic].” That one included reference to two consumers, in one shot.
The unrelated Heather Poole seems to know more than a Heather Marie Schneider on Facebook. And, at least on Facebook, Kyle Farrell doesn’t know an outrageous number of people on the social network: 177 as of mid-April. Poole, the well-known Flight Attendant, ranks among them. Is it least in possible ‘coincidences’?
While the photos that cap the Facebook profile belonging to AA-participant “Kyle Farrell” seem to indicate a propensity for water, not air, a closer look seems to include an affinity for the sky – or sky-related things. And one “Kyle Farrell” also exists in another spot – completely outside of the American Airlines-dedicated fan page or world’s largest social network. Those Kyle Farrells seem to have some striking similarities. ‘Likes’ are only part of it. Any crossover seems uncanny.
The “Kyle Farrell” on Facebook happens to like a few things on the largest social network. Activities listed on the social network include ‘Jetsetting’ and ‘Flying’. And ‘Likes’ include a Wikipedia reference to ‘Flight Attendant,’ a movie named ‘Frequent Flyer’ -- and a good-sized company by the name of American Airlines. That’s the beginning.
The list also includes a thumbs-up for the American Airlines Diversity & Inclusion fan page on Facebook – a spot with only about 800 or so falling within its ranks of admirers on the network. Then there’s a ‘Like’ for the American Airlines Admirals Club, AAdvantage, AAdvantage Elite, American Airlines Rainbow Team, American Way Magazine, ‘I’m a fAAn of American Airlines’ --and ‘I bet I can find 10,000 people that like AA Cheesecake’!! The latter is apparently short 9,970 of its goal. No word on how many of those 30 airline-cheesecake fans just might happen to be company employees. ‘Likes’ for Howard Hughes and ‘Swinger the Travel Monkey’ also appear. So does something else AA-related: Kyle Farrell’s ‘Like’ for American Eagle Airlines.
If an interest in aviation is one thing, specific interest -- in what some may perceive as a lean toward profession-related ‘Likes’ -- is another. Try ‘The Fabolous Life of a Flight Attendant’, ‘Dear Sky Steward’ and ‘Rants of a Sassy Stew’. But that’s not all. The Kyle Farrell on Facebook also likes an aviation-devoted website -- by the name of Airliners.net. It’s a spot that happens to hold a member dubbed ‘american762’.
For anyone who strives to argue away the term ‘american’ contained in a username for an account nearly eight years old, sheer patriotism can likely be scratched from the list. Threads of conversation on Airliners.net, including ‘american762, refer to or discuss topics related to a company -- American Airlines. But, letters aside, some specific numbers may help cinch any debate. The “Kyle Farrell” so active on the AA social media space seems to have an affinity for three numbers: seven, six and two.
And so, it seems, does the “Kyle Farrell” appearing on Airliners.net.
762. The numbers have seem to have appeared in that exact order by Farrell, on Facebook. On February 18, 2010, “Kyle Farrell” seems to have found himself in a public, AA-wall conversation concerning the plane-related. That Facebook version of Farrell seems to have familiarity with the exact model: “Transcons are flown on a 3 class 762-200 with a rows as far back as 39.” ‘Transcons’. It’s terminology that may surpass typical ‘speak’ of even the most frequent fliers. The Farrell on Airliners.net admits, April 6, 2005 thread, to basing his username on the specific model. There’s apparently a fondness for the 762, from the Farrell on Facebook too. The crossover seems uncanny.
After a Boeing 762 was destructed because of a blown engine – a plane specifically bearing the brand logo of American Airlines -- the Farrell on Facebook has some thoughts in his April 1, 2010 post containing a video link for YouTube: “I just found this… hard to watch. N330AA took me across the country many times.” It seems Farrell is not alone. Heather Marie Schneider ‘Liked’ that post.
The accounts of Kyle Farrell and Heather Marie Schneider have appeared together in multiple conversations related to consumer complaints and the airline. And, it would seem, even Facebook profiles aren’t off limits. It’s March 3, 2010, when Farrell asks a consumer: “Is there any reason you type and argue your post much like a 14 year old girl instant messaging her friends?” His finish: “Your profile says you graduated high school in 1983… start acting like it.” It's Schneider who wraps up the discussion: “He lives in Boston, and works for GEEK SQUAD! What do you expect?”
Farrell’s posts and comments to the American Airlines wall be interesting, but there’s a personal one of equal value. The words have to do with Jet Blue – sort of. The average consumer may not have intense feelings about a route changes regarding another airline. But Farrell discovered one thought personal enough to post about changes. On April 14, 2011, this one appeared, separate from the AA wall space: “Good job AA, giving away your Caribbean routes to JetBlue… Selling off profitable routes and having more Vice Presidents than any other Fortune 500 company; how Pan Am of you. Some serious thought should be given before making these decisions.”
Thought and decision is usually a good combo.
The public words of Kyle Farrell may best serve in closing. April 22, 2011: “What’s funny to me is that his attitude towards [sic] (both experienced AA elite frequent fliers) shows me why he failed to get compensated. I wonder if he started his complaint email in this manner: “Dear AA, GO F*#$ Yourselves. I want my miles” or something like that...” If one comment isn’t good enough, perhaps three times is a charm. Finishes Farrell: “One last jab… you spend $100K a year on Expedia? I’ve never even met a Gold status member who booked on Expedia. You’re lying about something here… “
Lies may be an interesting topic. And it may be time for some truths. Are these accounts alone? Here’s one answer: this is an introduction.