If the US presidential election of 2008 was the first occasion that social media played a major role in politics, then perhaps the ash drama of 2010 will be the most significant so far in travel.
The hyperbole that often accompanies social media may on this occasion be justified, it appears, with one senior airline executive who unfortunately did not want to be named saying services such as Twitter played a significant role in relaying information to passengers.
Shortly after the situation started unfolding in the early hours of Thursday 15 April the crisis management training of many travel companies was given a new dimension as airports across the UK and later the rest of Europe began shutting down and many passengers turned to the web for information.
Most of the major European airlines turned to Twitter to get their message out, perhaps not due to having hundreds of thousands of followers but because it became apparent very quickly that any official status from an airline was quickly retweeted by countless Twitter users.
[NB: The Volcanic ash cloud and European travel – live blog on Tnooz included official Twitter accounts from a string of airlines and other organisations]
The use of social media was not exclusive to Twitter. Airline fan pages on Facebook, so often used for the lighter side of travel (sharing photos, travel tips, etc) were also handed over to the crisis management teams.
As the crisis has moved from one of irritation initially on the part of passengers facing cancelled flights to a larger problem of stranded travellers around the world, the use of social media has changed.
Many airlines and airports are interacting directly with customers that have tried and failed to get assistance through call centres.
Meanwhile, running alongside the immediate customer service requirements have been other so-called social media and collaborative websites.
Sites such as RadarVirtuel and FlightRadar, perhaps once the preserve of aircraft enthusiasts and the curious, have given ordinary people an insight into the unfolding drama in a unique way, especially as air traffic was slowly cleared from the skies across Europe on Friday 16, with a real-time view of flight operations across the continent.
There was also the live webcam of the dreaded volcano in Iceland (admittedly a service which has been sporadic given the expected levels of web traffic heading its way).
There will be those, of course, who suggest that social media itself has fuelled this latest round of self-congratulation and allowing the ability to navel-gaze once again.
But, conversely, there are also countless others that have praised the airlines, airports, authorities and other organisations for simply using what has been another communication channel to reach confused customers.