Transport Airlines

How Airlines Are Using Social Media to Deal With This Week’s Weather

@jasonclampet

Jan 07, 2014 9:00 am

Skift Take

You can’t solve the world’s problems on Twitter, but you can at least let them know you are listening.

— Jason Clampet

Turnkey Analytics to Track Your Competitors


American Airlines

Delta Assist

JetBlue

US Airways

Southwest

Virgin America

United Airlines

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, especially when it’s blowing brutally off of Lake Michigan or the Long Island Sound. And this week is turning out to be brutal if you’re trying to run an airline or use one to get from one place to another in the U.S. and Canada.

From American Airline’s freezing equipment in Chicago, to Delta’s skidding plane in New York, to JetBlue’s complete shutdown across the Northeast, it’s a terrible week to be flying.

How do you let hundreds of thousands of customers know you’re feeling their pain? Take to Twitter, of course: They’re already there venting their frustrations. Depending on the airline, it can provide an efficient way to deal with some customer service issues.

We dug into stats at SkiftIQ to find out how airlines’ social media teams are responding to flyers’ complaints, requests, and cries for help.

Airline Tweets
American Airlines 1,869
JetBlue 989
United 583
Delta Assist 342
US Airways 232
Southwest 66
Virgin America 32

Once again, American Airlines is dominating its rivals by sheer volume. On Sunday it sent nearly twice as many tweets (1,869) as its nearest rival JetBlue (989). United sent 583 tweets. Delta, US Airways,

Delta Assist (which handles Delta’s customer service issues on Twitter), US AirwaysSouthwest, and Virgin America brought up the rear in responses, with only a fraction of the leaders.

Some of the volume can be credited to company culture and user habits. Southwest doesn’t deal with any customer service issues on Twitter. Instead, it directs users to a page on its website. And even though Virgin America has routes in and out of the Northeast, it flies a fraction of the planes its rivals do.

The American Exception

In addition to being the most productive team on Twitter, American Air is also the fastest and most responsive.

According to SkiftIQ, American’s average response time on Twitter is twelve minutes. This is the bulk of what American does on Twitter as 97.9% of its tweets are responses to consumers.

Delta (13 minutes) and JetBlue (15 minutes) come a close second and third. But woe be to the traveler depending on United for a speedy response: It averages two hours and 17 minutes between tweet and response. Click through the charts above for insight into each airline’s behavior.

American Air’s performance on social isn’t only due to the weather. It’s 14-day average places it above any other domestic or global airline when it comes to volume. According to American, it has 17 customer service representatives devoted to responding to incoming tweets.

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