How 9 airlines work with Twitter and how we'd grade them

George Hobica, September 10, 2012
Fares from Washington DC:

    Airlines are using Twitter to respond to customer complaints although some are doing a better job than others. It is important to remember that just because a Twitter profile bears an airline name or resemblance does not mean that it is an authoritative voice. The best way to trust a Twitter profile is to make sure it is a "verified account," which is indicated by a blue check signal next to the profile name. Here's a sampling of recent tweets and the airline's responses.

    AIRLINE MAIN CUSTOMER SERVICE HANDLE SAMPLE TWEET SERVICE LEVEL GRADES AND COMMENTS
    American

    @AmericanAir

    (@AAdvantage)
    Thanks for your patience, Dale. We are working to get you home ASAP and we appreciate you flying with us very much!
    A flurry of questions answered from busy reps who seem to spend most of their time thanking, apologizing or requesting that customers contact them via Direct Message. B:If you want to get American’s attention, this is a great way to do it. Customers keep the airline’s on-duty Twitter team busy answering questions, handling reservation issues, and directing customers to the right information source if needed. This is not a feed for airfare deals, but customers use aa.com for that.
    Delta

    @DeltaAssist

    (@Delta, @DeltaAirLinesNews)
    We apologize for the rudeness you encountered. Pls DM with agent names, times and gate numbers and we'll follow up with station The 61,000 followers on Delta's official 24-hour Twitter feed may be meager, but this Twitter team is arguably the most responsive with over a dozen people working around the clock answering issues from customers in English, Spanish, Portuguese. Delta has other Twitter A: Delta is very responsive to passenger requests and often asks for individual reservation numbers to handle functions such as seat changes and ticket reissues on the spot. They have even been known to contact a pilot and work with GoGo support to get the onboard wifi working after a customer complained inflight. Perhaps the smaller community leads to more effective customer service response.
    Frontier

    @FlyFrontier

    (@FrontierSale)
    The Pacific is perfect this time of year. Grab a sale fare for CA, OR, and WA. Buy by 8/30. Fly by 3/17. Book here: http://bit.ly/Rqw9NF When customers ask questions or have issues, Frontier responds right away. It is difficult to test their level of responsiveness though since the volume of customer interaction is low. C+: The airline does a nice job with their Twitter feed answering visitor questions and promoting the airline's routes via promotions and trivia. However, its smaller following could lead to the lack of volume in Twitter posts. This could grow as more followers take interest.
    JetBlue

    @JetBlue

    (@JetBlueCheeps)
    If your flight has a lower fare, we'll honor it and put the difference in a credit! Call us at 800JETBLUE :) The most popular airline feed currently – with over 1.6 million followers – stays busy. Staff do some tweeting about conditions and sales. The bulk of the work, however, appears to be answering questions. A: Quite proactive; they tend to follow up to get those with complaints that are not addressing them directly in order to get them to bring their concerns directly to them. There’s a dearth of deals, but for those, check out the airline’s weekly deep-discount deal feed, @JetBlueCheeps, every Tuesday.
    Southwest @SouthwestAir Oh, I'm so sorry but we do not offer bereavement fares. Try using our low fare calendar. Responses within 24 hours, generally. Staff will Direct Message to handle complaints, or direct you to where general questions can be answered. B+: Southwest is very interactive, however, it is not a great source of information for deals. The feed is a mix of question and answer, problem solving and some announcements, but nothing major. If you’re searching for fares, better to sign up for “Ding” fares on their website.
    Spirit @SpiritAirlines This week's flight and vacation package deals end today! Book by 11:59pm EST http://ow.ly/dcKda The airline is not ashamed to go low-budget on its Twitter feed as well. It uses the channel entirely for sales, promotions, and announcements. It is clear that it will not respond to customers via Twitter. D: Spirit makes no investment in maintaining a channel to respond to customer requests via Twitter. It is only a revenue-driving tool sending travelers to sales, promotions, and route news. And it works since it has garnered more than 38,000 followers simply for its promotional tweets.
    United @United Did you report your laptop to our Baggage Resolution team? If not, here's their contact info. http://bit.ly/Jh1bVj The airline’s now-you-see-them, now-you-don’t Twitter team is slow to respond to tweets, but they receive far fewer than other airlines. The feed is more about giving news, launching contests, and informing customers by publicly answering customer questions with links and advice.

    C: Fewer fare sales than before and less attention than other airlines have led the Twitter feed to pale in comparison to other airlines. For one of the world's largest airlines, the company has done a poor job of encouraging customers to connect with them via Twitter. Perhaps this is the reason for such long hold times when calling their customer service phone numbers.

     
    US Airways

    @USAirways

    (@USEmployees)
    Thanks for your tweet. I'll pass on your kind words to our Inflight team for proper recognition. Your loyalty is appreciated This newer Twitter feed has grown quickly thanks to its interest in both connecting with customer concerns (whether customer service or reservation questions) and also hosting numerous contests and promotions on a regular basis. B+: While not the most interactive of feeds, it is building its loyal fan base by offering prizes and promotions with regularity. Customers receive prompt responses to their comments and questions, but much of it is referring them to other channels rather than solving issues immediately.
    Virgin America @VirginAmerica Apologies for the delays tonight in the NY-area. Very unpredictable weather in NE. Appreciate the patience of all our guests. Very chatty, cutesy feed; pictures of the sunrise at LAX, retweets of the latest news bits from other Virgin-brand holdings. B+: The airline does spend time answering customer questions, but this feed makes us feel like the airline wants to be our friend. It isn’t – it’s always going to be an airline, no matter how cute the cabins (and crew!) tend to be. Also? We don’t want to hear what else is going on in the Virginverse. (PS: Virgin Galactic is stupid!)
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