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Taking to social media has become the norm when trying to get an airline’s attention. When a situation goes awry, flyers can try and deal with a customer service agent over the phone or in person, but with social media, customer complaints can be made public.

Going public can help put pressure on an airline to respond, since it knows people are actively watching the situation unfold.  And in the post-United Bumpgate world, where a video can go viral and create a public-relations nightmare for an airline, companies are on their best behavior.

Conversocial Inc., a social media-focused customer service firm, released a study on airlines with the best response time on social media. Over the course of four days in October, Conversocial looked at the average response time by airlines on Twitter.

Image courtesy of Conversocial.
Image courtesy of Conversocial

JetBlue took the top spot (among North American carriers) with Virgin America coming in right behind — both had an average response time of under 5 minutes. The three large legacy carriers took the bottom rung of the scores, with United taking over an hour and a half to respond. United’s response time was an hour longer than the second worst, Delta which came in around 31 minutes.

In regards to the airlines in the Middle East and Europe (EMEA), Lufthansa took over 9 minutes to respond on Twitter, more than 5 minutes longer than the top North American carrier. If you think United’s response time was rough, just take a look at Finnair, which took a whopping five and half hours.

Although American Airlines placed eighth, it actually responded the most out of any other North American airline — responding to almost a third of its Twitter mentions. And just because an airline responded quickly didn’t mean they were actually responding to everyone, Lufthansa actually came in last when it came to overall response time.

Image courtesy of Conversocial

In regards to response time, North American airlines handily beat their counterparts across the Atlantic, but the EMEA airlines were more responsive overall.

Conversocial’s results somewhat matched TPG’s findings in 2015, where JetBlue was the quickest to respond but Delta actually responded to the most customers overall. Similarly, United took nearly four hours to respond in 2015.

A United spokesperson told Bloomberg that it planned on increasing its social media staff by 150 percent in the first quarter of 2018.

Bloomberg writer Justin Bachman points out that just because an airline might respond quicker to a customer service issue doesn’t mean that it actually gets resolved, although JetBlue and Alaska did score at the top of J.D. Power’s most recent airline satisfaction study.

Feature photo by @mp_develops via Twenty20

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