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The Best Airlines for Customer Service on Twitter

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Getting ahold of airline representatives when something goes wrong can be a daunting task. If you call a carrier’s standard phone line, you’re bound to sit on hold for extended periods, not to mention the ensuing transfers from representative to representative. But with Twitter as an option, the whole process becomes much more painless.

According to a study by Stratos Jet Charters, an Orlando-based air charter firm, there’s one airline that’s superior to the others when it comes to answering customer tweets. The study examined 1.3 million tweets between November 20, 2015 and January 9, 2016 during the busy holiday travel season to look at airlines’ average initial response time to tweets from customers.

Airline Average Initial Response Time
Volaris 4 minutes, 12 seconds
JetBlue 5 minutes, 36 seconds
Etihad Airways 9 minutes
Kenya Airways 19 minutes, 24 seconds
Virgin Atlantc 19 minutes, 36 seconds

Low-cost Mexican carrier Volaris topped the list, with an average initial response time of just more than four minutes. JetBlue, the US-based carrier known for its Twitter customer service, came in second at around five-and-a-half minutes.

Low-cost carrier Volaris is the quickest to respond on Twitter.
Low-cost carrier Volaris is the quickest to respond to customers on Twitter. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

But how does Volaris top the charts? It has two dedicated social media support teams that respond to customer remarks at all hours of the day. As for JetBlue, the carrier doesn’t just answer users who directly mention its name in tweets, but also responds to tweets that mention the brand and its keywords. The third-place carrier, Etihad, has multiple Twitter pages, including a premium Twitter channel for members of its elite programs, that promises perks like five-minute response times.

Airline Total Tweets Total Empathetic Tweets Percent of Total Tweets
Jetstar Airways 1,186 487 41.1%
EasyJet 8,668 2,823 32.6%
Virgin America 2,448 758 31%
American Airlines 52,919 13,373 25.3%
Flybe 4,348 1,093 25.1%

The study also examined the most empathetic airlines based on the same set of 1.3 million tweets by analyzing each carrier’s answers that included sympathetic words and phrases like, “We’re so sorry you feel this way” or “Our apologies.” Jetstar Aiways topped the list, followed by EasyJet, Virgin America, American Airlines and Flybe.

Word/Phrase Mentions
Thank You 101,798
Delayed, Late and Canceled 66,831
Lost 16,272
Profanity 14,490
Seat 5,286
Weather 4,612

Finally, the study examined the most common phrases and words in all of the 1.3 million tweets from airline customers. “Thank You” was by far the most common phrase, not surprisingly, followed by the words “Delayed,” “Late” and “Cancelled.”

Bottom Line

Overall, tweeting at airlines’ customer service accounts can help you solve issues that otherwise might take longer to fix over the phone or through email. The study noted that in order for customers to more successfully tweet at airlines and get a response, they should keep their message brief, factual and professional in tone — you should also explain your situation and any outcome you’re hoping for.

Having Twitter as an additional resource for airline customer service is a great option for flyers. As TPG always says, it never hurts to ask and tweeting to airlines’ customer service accounts can help expedite that process.

H/T: Economist

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