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A social media benchmark company called Unmetric, which monitors the daily activity of over 6,000 big brands on social media released an infographic yesterday with the relative Twitter reply times of the major airlines and it turns out that American Airlines is the fastest to respond to Tweets, with an average reply time (ART) of 13 minutes and 10 seconds.

You can see the rest of the ART’s in this chart:

Twitter Infographic

But to break it down for you, American Airlines’ Twitter handle @AmericanAir responds to over 80% of tweets in less than 15 minutes. By comparison, most other airlines look like laggards, with some, like British Airways, taking hours and hours to respond to tweets.  From best to worst, here are the ART’s of the airlines surveyed.

@AmericanAir: 13:10 minutes

@DeltaAssist: 20:02 minutes

@JetBlue: 22:39 minutes

@SouthwestAir: 46:58 minutes

@VirginAmerica: 01:14:09 hours

@United: 01:17:57 hours

@USAirways: 01:27:15 hours

@KLM: 01:43:46 hours

@Delta: 07:41:08 hours *Just note, this probably trips some people up since the airline has a dedicated assistance Twitter handle that responds faster.

@British_Airways: 08:07:31 hours

As someone who’s Tweeted pretty much every airline, this isn’t terribly surprising to me, though British Airways’ lag time is downright shameful, and United and US Airways look like they need to get their acts together as well.

Keep in mind, that this isn’t just about customer service, complaint or question tweets, but all tweets, so it looks like American Airlines has really upped its social media interaction with flyers and takes the time to respond to almost every tweet that comes in.

Social media has become crucial to how many companies, including airlines, do business, from special promotions to contests to customer interaction, so it’s good to see that several are taking that evolution seriously.

In terms of its usefulness for flyers, I personally use Twitter to get quick responses when my plans change or there is an issue with my itinerary that I need to address since doing so can often produce quicker responses than just calling. However – and this is something I hope a lot of people keep in mind – I also Tweet airlines just to share news with them, photos of my experiences flying them and just to have fun. After all, social media is a great way to share your experiences and airlines, like any other company, like hearing when they’ve done something right and they deserve to be applauded when they do. Plus, if you complain too often, you never know, the airline could flag you as a trouble passenger and deal with you in other ways.

It’s not just airlines who have improved their Twitter interaction. I’d also single out @AskAmex, the customer service Q&A Twitter handle of American Express, for its quick, accurate and resolution-minded responses whose response team often answers customers’ questions and solve their issues usually within minutes.

Do you use Twitter to communicate directly with airlines? If so, what have your experiences been?

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