Skift Take

Airlines' huge followings are the source of monumental moves in social interactions and acquisitions.

As consumers plan their trips for the upcoming holiday season, airlines are in full force with share-worthy content and customer care on social media.

Half of the list below contains U.S. domestic low-cost carriers. The other half represent international airlines from The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Brazil, France, and New Zealand. Most of the content on the main account is in English with an exception of country specific accounts on Twitter and TAM Airlines on Instagram.

The top ten, below, are calculated using our Skift Score, which takes into account performance on an absolute basis, as well as relative to within a company’s specific industry. Comparing metrics across companies and travel sectors provides an intelligent measure of real-time competitive edge.

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Name Skift Score Facebook Likes Twitter Follows Instagram Followers Youtube Video Views
KLM 924 7,861,394 1,501,065 64,176 59,941,972
American Airlines 856 1,798,312 985,377 87,362 4,375,340
British Airways 848 1,622,952 562,287 87,259 24,511,016
TAM Airlines 838 2,579,279 732,435 48,939 11,278,556
United 829 773,935 566,186 49,613 4,845,488
Air France FR 826 4,895,931 374,586 70,196 3,492,096
Air New Zealand 824 969,319 302,298 27,134 56,511,237
Virgin America 822 602,799 614,087 53,719 15,365,860
JetBlue Airways 816 994,384 1,878,353 39,531 5,585,827
Southwest Airlines 814 4,504,401 1,766,834 90,767 10,355,344

Source: SkiftIQ

KLM dominates by being the most proactive airline and travel brand in the industry, evident in being the only company to soar past all 2,500+ competitors we track at SkiftIQ with a Skift Score greater than 900. Although they don’t lead the sector with acquisitions on all four platforms, their social media team’s effort on Facebook and YouTube are making up for their lagging presence on Twitter and Instagram.


One airline leads in Page Likes and puts its staff, passengers, and livery top of mind on Facebook on a consistent basis. KLM’s page is filled with emotive content and a cover image that is updated every five minutes. Its partner airline, Air France is nearly half as large in Page Likes, while Southwest Airline are a few paces away. Although the French airline has Paris, the city known as the most romantic destination as its hub, Southwest Airlines is officially open and free to connect to major U.S. cities, non-stop from Dallas Love Field.


JetBlue admitted that its team doesn’t respond to every @mention because they poised to be more strategic about replying with adding value in mind. Their team’s approach is about creating a resource and enabling its customers to join conversations to share their experiences and tips via hashtags that promote positivity before, during, and after the trip. Southwest and KLM are not far behind here, and their approach to social customer care is about volume and speed. Both airlines have a dedicated team to handle inquiries seven days a week, 18 hours/day and 24 hours/day, respectively. American Airlines don’t have as many fans, but handle large volumes of replies at the fastest average rate of ten minutes.


Not all airlines are invested in this platform like they are on Facebook and Twitter. British Airlines was able to amplify its brand’s presence by working with influencers on Instagram, while American Airlines’ followers’ are respond tremendously to snaps and captions that stir up the av geek and patriot in U.S. travelers. Photos of the livery and behind the scenes shots at the airport, tarmac, and hangars are staples. Air New Zealand has the fewest fans on Instagram, but accelerated its fan base because of its documented exclusive journey with nearly 80 winners through various hamlets of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth.


International airlines leads in video production and views. KLM, Air New Zealand, and British Airways cranked out tear jerker, fantastical and cute overload videos. The views have pushed them up the ranks, leaving Virgin America’s well branded, high production value clips and Sir Richard Branson in the dust.

Although United does not dominate or compete with the top 30th percentile, it still outperforms with its proactivity on social media. Its weekly deals on Twitter, destination spotlights on Facebook, and non-travel related brand partnerships incentivizes its audience to participate and share their experience.

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Tags: air france, air new zealand, airlines, american airlines, british airways, jetblue airways, klm, skiftiq, social media, southwest airlines, united airlines, virgin america

Photo credit: Happy to help video on Facebook. KLM / Facebook

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