Everybody apparently has something to say about a recent debacle in which a passenger was forcibly ejected on a United flight and now, some airlines are trying to turn it into a marketing opportunity.
Middle East carriers, stung by recent anti-competitive movements among the U.S. legacy carriers and a recent electronics ban (possibly motivated by things other than security) have perhaps been most harsh. Royal Jordanian, which is known for its snarky social media feeds, posted a photo on Monday saying that “We would like to remind you that drags on our flights are strictly prohibited by passengers and crew,” showing a cigarette but clearly referencing the United incident.
— Royal Jordanian (@RoyalJordanian) April 10, 2017
Emirates, another carrier long embattled by legacy carriers, went so far as to post a video quoting United’s CEO and lambasting the airline. It also used the opportunity to brag about winning top billing in TripAdvisor’s new global airline rankings.
Fly the friendly skies with a real airline. pic.twitter.com/wE5C5n6Lvn
— Emirates airline (@emirates) April 11, 2017
On this side of the Atlantic, criticism was a bit more guarded. Doug Haller, a reporter for azcentral, reported Southwest flight attendants joking with customers over the affair:
Attendant on my Southwest flight tells passengers: “We’re going to need four passengers … just kidding.”
— Doug Haller (@DougHaller) April 11, 2017
Meanwhile, graphics of a new Southwest slogan surfaced saying ” We beat the competition. Not you” surfaced though the airline claims no part in that campaign.
— Paul Hookem (@PaulHook_em) April 11, 2017
So far, United’s competing legacy carriers seem to be some of the only participants staying on the sidelines; American’s Twitter account is staying focused solely on promotional material while Delta’s top tweet is a misdirected support message to a nonexistent user. It’s showing more restraint than it did two weeks ago when it rested to United’s #leggingsgate challenges by reminding followers that they were free to wear leggings on flights.
Among the other lessons from this week’s debacle, one thing that’s clear is that airlines still haven’t perfected the social media game.