How UK airports use Twitter to better communicate with travelers
A flyer tweets about his details while his flight is delayed at Heathrow Airport. Simon Doggett / Flickr
Airports, like airlines, have quickly caught on to the customer service uses of Twitter and, in the process, have discovered a personality that furthers their mission of becoming destinations in their own right.
Tweeting airports is not a new thing; most registered their accounts back in 2009. Now, with tens of thousands of followers, Twitter has become key component of airport’s communication infrastructure.
“It’s as much a part of our communication network as the customer helpline, website and information desks,” says John Greenway, Head of External Communications at Manchester Airport.
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What are passengers and airports talking about
Passengers reach out to airports with information requests including the terminal of a specific airline, retail and restaurant locations, car parking, and weather delays.
“Twitter use at London Luton is designed to provide answers to practical questions and queries that passengers may have in relation to the Airport,” says a spokesperson from London Luton Airport.
Examples of the most common Twitter encounters between flyers and UK-based airports are below:
Airports with a personality
Outside of the usual logistical questions, airports have taken the opportunity to engage passengers on a more personal level. The best Twitter accounts don’t wait for flyers to mention them, but seek out travelers via search.
Head of Passenger Communications at Heathrow, Marc Ellams, calls it the “surprise and delight” element: “We have also shifted from being predominantly customer service/crisis focused to producing more engaging content to improve passenger experience.”
— Heathrow Airport (@HeathrowAirport) April 3, 2013
A personality can go a long way in making friends on Twitter.
Manchester’s Greenway says, “We’ve also tried to give @manairport a personality. @manairport can be dry and sometimes, but only sometimes, humourous and we hope people have liked the fact that we are not just a piece of infrastructure.”
— Manchester Airport (@manairport) April 3, 2013
Personality isn’t the only reason Manchester is currently the third most followed airport on Twitter with 58,738 followers.
The airport has a 24/7 flight board built into its Twitter stream. Passengers can DM the account with the word ‘Flight’ and their flight number to receive live updates on the status of their flights.