American Airlines ‘Most Hated’ On Social Media, Virgin America ‘Most Loved’

A recent study by Amplicate, a tracker of social media sentiment, ranked airlines by the number of positive and negative social media comments.  Overall, 57% of comments about US airlines on social media in the past year were negative.  But American Airlines – the world’s fourth largest airline – stood out with only 12% of social media opinions about the airline being positive.

Delta Receives Social Media Backlash In June 2011While American fared the worst with complaints about everything from bad customer service to cancelled flights, three other airlines received their fair share of customer wrath on social media: Delta, United, and US Airways. Delta accounted for the majority of negative social media comments about airlines in June, when the airline chose to charge returning US servicemen for extra baggage.  The “firestorm of negative comments” over this incident made June the month with the most negative opinions on US airlines in general, with over half the complaints directed at Delta.  (Despite this “unfortunate decision”, Delta still came out ahead of US Airways, United, and American in the full year rankings.)

US airlines weren’t all social media losers though – Virgin America, JetBlue and SouthWest all saw a vast majority of positive comments.  Virgin America was the social media darling of US airlines, with 97% of opinions about the airline being positive over the last year, and quite a bit of happiness over the on-board Wifi.  This comes as no surprise, as Virgin America has put significant effort into its social media presence, running promotions on social media tools including Twitter, Foursquare, Loopt, Groupon and Klout.
Virgin America Gets 97% Positive Comments on Social Media

The top three US airlines (in terms of positive social media sentiment) have all put serious time and effort into creating and maintaining their social media presence, with a strong focus on customer service, not just on promotions.  Watch JetBlue’s Senior Vice President, Marketing and Commercial Strategy, Marty St.George, discuss the airline’s social media initiatives at TWTRCON NY 10 (produced by The Realtime Report), and also how their social media presence was inspired by the airline’s response to a crisis situation (the groundings on February 14, 2007).  SouthWest also focuses on keeping customers happy via social media  – watch the TWTRCON SF 10 SouthWest Airlines case study, presented by Linda Rutherford, Vice President of Communication and Strategic Outreach, SouthWest Airlines.