When flyers are stuck at the airport looking up at a glaring ‘delayed’ sign or twiddling their thumbs on a plane stuck at the gate, they want answers in a matter of minutes.

Despite airlines’ relative success on social media in recent years, only ten airlines around the globe answer their customers’ tweets in less than one hour.

According to Skift’s competitive intelligence platform SkiftIQ, more than half of the airlines that manage to answer customers’ tweets that quickly are located in North America.

Those include American, which answers tweets in just twelve minutes, JetBlue, US Airways, Air Canada, Delta and Southwest.

The other three airlines are based in Asia and Australia including IndiGo, Philippine Airlines, Virgin Australia, and PT Garuda Indonesia.

NameSkift ScoreResponse Time (Minutes)Tweets Per Day (60 Days)Replies as % of TweetsFollowersPreferred Twitter Client
American Airlines855121.08K100%747KSNAP100 (98.4%)
JetBlue Airways75515323100%1.8MSocialEngage (99.7%)
IndiGo4241660.180%5.13KHootsuite (76.2%)
Delta Air Lines34824333100%131KSparkCentral (100%)
US Airways70138412100%397KSNAP100 (99.7%)
Air Canada7804218190%173KSprinklr (98.1%)
Philippine Airlines6084439.290%572KTweetdeck (90%)
PT Garuda Indonesia4964582.480%372KGaruda Indonesia Customer Care (78.6%)
Southwest Airlines8365024.360%1.62MSocialEngage (92.4$%)
Virgin Australia7605868.7100%118KTwitSpark (86.8%)

How They Tweet

Twitter’s website and HootSuite are the most-used Twitter clients for airlines, but most of the top performers use a proprietary or enterprise-level paid client.

American sends 98.4 percent of its tweets from its proprietary social media tool SNAP100, which US Airways recently started tweeting from too. American Air’s social media team has previously declined to answer questions about SNAP100, but it’s easy to see the focus is on conversation and customer support.

Southwest’s social media team member Adam Rucker tells us a little more about the airline’s platform of choice SocialEngage.

Team members can view all inbound messages, assign projects to certain employees, and catch up on a conversation’s history.

Air Canada’s social manager Mathieu Lagace says its platform Sprinklr is used like a workbook in which employees can tag messages and leave notes for one another.

What They Tweet

Patience is clearly one of prerequisites for dealing with angry flyers over social media.

Air Canada’s six-person social media team, which answers customers’ tweets in about 42 minutes, all have experience working at the airline’s call center.

The airline started recruiting employees from the call center two years ago and placed them on rotations so that Air Canada’s social media streams are monitored 7 days a week from 7 AM to 11 PM.

Lagace says the social media team goes through a “robust selection process.”

“One of the key elements we look for when hiring is tone and personality.”

Southwest has a team of 10 employees broken down into groups focused on communications and customer relations. The three employees heading Southwest’s customer relations team also tweet flyers under their own accounts @southwestgabe, @southwestnicole, and @southwestverity.

The personalized accounts gives employees more freedom to interact with customers without all conversations being tied to the official Southwest Twitter account.

IndiGo, Philippines Airlines, and PT Garuda Indonesia did not respond to Skift’s inquiries for details on their social media operations before publication.

Photo Credit: JetBlue responds to a tweet. PlaceIt.net