How to Engage With Airlines on Social Media
Social media is an effective (and speedy) way to engage with airlines, and many carriers see Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as vital parts of their customer engagement and support strategies. Here, TPG Contributor Sid Lipsey shares some of his best tips for engaging with airlines on social media.
Great news for flyers with something to say about their air travels: Airlines have made it easier to communicate with them via social media. Major carriers often have entire teams dedicated to monitoring Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to see what customers have to say about and, more importantly, to them.
While tweeting alone likely won't get you an upgrade, a waived fee or any other financial benefits, engaging with an airline in the right way and on the right social media platform can be a lifesaver when dealing with problems — like lost items, misdirected luggage or flight delays — that often arise during air travel.
Twitter is Tops for Troubles
If you're trying to get a problem solved quickly, Twitter should be your go-to social media platform. Major airlines, including the US legacy carriers, have social media response teams monitoring their Twitter feeds 24/7. These teams aren't a bunch of isolated computer geeks who specialize in witty comebacks and reciting customer service phone numbers — they tend to be made up of extremely well-connected reps who are plugged in to all areas of the company so they can find the best way to help you with your issue.
Many airlines also run Facebook and Instagram accounts, but those places aren't ideally suited for quick customer service since Instagram is too image-focused and airlines tend to get too many Facebook posts to respond to issues quickly. If you're seeking help for a time-sensitive issue — like, say, the laptop you left on a plane that's taking off for Dallas in an hour — Twitter is the place to go.
Follow Your Favorite Airlines
Most airlines conduct all of their Twitter business, from customer service issues to discount offers and singing flight attendant videos, under the same "@" handle.
Should you ever need to tweet an airline about a problem, you'll save a lot of time if you're already following that airline on Twitter. That way, the airline will be able to direct message (DM) you immediately with a response, rather than wasting time tweeting you to follow them so you can continue your conversation privately — which you'll have to do should the airline ask you to relay private information like your reservation confirmation number. If you're trying to get help with a missed flight, that saved time could be very valuable.
For reference, here are the Twitter handles for several major airlines:
Delta Air Lines: @Delta (now that @DeltaAssist has officially moved)
American Airlines: @AmericanAir
Virgin America: @VirginAmerica
Alaska Airlines: @AlaskaAir
Frontier Airlines: @FlyFrontier
Virgin Atlantic: @VirginAtlantic
Call if You're Still Not Getting Anywhere
Reaching out to an airline via social media is great for a speedy response. Still, it doesn't hurt to get in touch the old-fashioned way and call the airline's customer assistance number in a pinch. If you're at the airport, you can also seek help at your airline's customer service desk in person. If you're trying to get a problem solved quickly, there's nothing wrong with hedging your bets to make sure you get someone at the airline to help you.
Just Be Nice
No matter how stressed you are about a canceled flight or how angry you may be at a snippy flight attendant, being snarky and/or verbally abusive toward an airline on social media won't help matters. Your posts aren't being read by some faceless corporation, they're being read by a living, breathing person who won't respond well to his/her employer being cursed at or insulted.
As a matter of policy, some airline social media response teams won't even engage with an abusive or volatile passenger, so an online freak-out won't get your problem solved any faster. It's okay to let airlines know you're upset — just remember to detail your problem in a respectful, just-the-facts manner (no venting, rambling or cursing), and you'll likely get a better response.
Social media isn't all about problems. If you want to comment on an airline's cool photos, share your memories of a good flight or post your travel pics or videos, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are good places to do so. Be sure you hashtag your posts, as that'll increase your chances of getting a response. Some carriers even run contests for customer-shot videos or pics to encourage engagement. Yes, airlines set up shop on social media to help you with your problems, but they want to hear from you during the good times, too!
Do you use social media to get in touch with airlines? Tell us about it below.