Airlines That Embrace Twitter & Why It Can Be A Valuable Tool For Them

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21/04/2009 – Airlines That Embrace Twitter & Why It Can Be A Valuable Tool For Them


With airlines continuing to lose money, the global economy in decline and competition for passengers increasing why is it that airlines are slow to embrace social media as way to reach their passenger base?

For a long time I shunned Twitter. I found the constant stream of information irrelevant, until I actually sat down one day to try it out. I spent a week on Twitter, then left it alone, then came back and once I did I found a significant potential value in the constant stream of information. I am one person, with a small business…but my small business follows large business, global business and multi-billion dollar businesses. If my small business can network and find potential clients on Twitter, what is the potential for a multi-national airline with significant resources to gain attention and attract potential passengers?

In the world of ‘Airline Twitter” the clear leader is JetBlue, with 388,908 followers…or 365,740 more followers than the next most followed airline, Southwest Airlines. Why is JetBlue so successful with Twitter? For starters Jetblue updates consistently. In addition to Jetblue’s consistent stream of fare specials and delay alerts they interact with their followers and they let customers know they are Twittering

Jetblue has embraced Twitter as a completely interactive marketing tool to involve its passengers. It is incredible that with relative reliability if a passenger sends a message to Jetblue via Twitter they will get a response, and fairly quickly. Jetblue does not have nearly as many ‘Tweets’ as Southwest Airlines, but the airline is more proactive in promoting their presence on Twitter. Through their promotion of their interactive accessibility on Twitter they are finding new ways to attract and retain loyal passengers.

While Southwest Airlines has embraced Twitter, has 1,200 more ‘Tweets’ than JetBlue on the and also interacts with its flyers, it has not advertised its presence on Twitter so openly. Southwest’s loyalty is almost unrivaled, if the airline pushed forward in publishing their Twitter address widely and in its e-mail campaigns chances are they would top JetBlue very rapidly. For now Southwest, like Jetblue is using Twitter widely, intelligently and is a model that other airlines should considering following.

Only one other airline tops 10,000 followers, Virgin America, with 12,107 followers…and the closest airline behind Virgin America? Alaska Airlines at 5,414 followers.

Twitter has significant potential to reach a massive number of customers quickly, easily and passively. With Twitter’s visitor numbers growing 436.1% in the past 3 months, and 1.45% of all global internet users having visited Twitter yesterday alone, airlines should embrace this service and similar services to further their brand, their customer interaction and generate revenue.

Many airlines are on Twitter, but leave their accounts dormant; some use Twitter but do not engage those following them or interact with them…even when sent a direct message. Each airline is a brand, each airline has its own message and Twitter, as well as other emerging technologies, are easy ways to broadcast that message. If you follow different airlines, and I follow more than 20 airline Twitter Feeds, you see completely different styles among the carriers. Some airlines that have multiple feeds that have different ‘brand personalities’ between different feeds. KLM has 8 different Twitter feeds, some more active than others, but all targeting different markets. Airlines embracing Twitter and other interactive media need a consistent message, different brand personalities for different markets are great, but the message must always be the same.

With airlines in financial trouble, and seeking new ways to attract and retain passages, having the ability to access to a completely FREE service to inform passengers, advertise to passengers and interact with passengers on a global level should not be overlooked.

For reference, below are the current airline Twitter feeds and the current number of followers each airline Twitter feed has.

…and feel free to follow me on Twitter at

JetBlue – 388,908
Southwest – 23,168
Virgin America – 12,107
Alaska Airlines – 5,414
Allegiant Air – 2,972
Delta Airlines – 2,819
Air New Zealand – 2,385
American Airlines – 2,371 (total of 3 entries, Last update 21-Aug-2008)
British Airways North America – 2,235
KLM Club Africa – 1,972
KLM Club China – 1,553 (total of zero entries)
British Airways UK – 1,516
Virgin Blue – 1,503
WestJet – 1,478
Turkish Airlines – 865
V Australia – 813
US Airways – 800 (total of 3 entries)
KLM (Corp) – 699
Asiana Airlines – 667
Qatar Airways – 665
United Airlines – 640
Horizon Air – 530
JetStar Airways – 502
Cathay Pacific – 468
SAS/Scandinvavian – 391
Virgin Atlantic 25th Anniversary – 354
Air France – 335 ( total of 1 entry on 24-Jan-2009)
American/AAirwaves – 248

Icelandair – 237
Gulf Air – 230
Air France UK – 227
Kenya Airways – 210
Qantas USA – 172
Korean Air – 142
ANA/All Nippon USA – 125
KLM 90 Years – 125
KLM UK – 107
Star Alliance – 104
Czech Airlines – 94
KLM NL – 75
KLM NL (English) – 49
Air France Ireland – 16
KLM Ireland – 7

Happy Flying!


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