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Airlines and Social Media

September 19, 2014 BE_Post, Blog No Comments




Read the introductory text on the topic “Airlines and Social Media” following links to additional material:

Social media play a crucial role in the modern world, and airline new media experts make sure that carriers stay in touch and on top of the trend. Some airlines perhaps wish they had picked up the habit of managing a Twitter or Facebook account a little earlier, or paid more attention to the buzz YouTube videos were creating. United Airlines may be one of them…

United Breaks Guitars” (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,531515,00.html ) – a song written by a Canadian country singer Dave Carroll that tells a story of United’s employees smashing his and his band’s guitars on the tarmac– was uploaded on YouTube in July 2009 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo ) and since then has been enjoying popularity among fellow United passengers who may not be as creative in channeling their disappointments with the airline’s service. The song has been viewed by almost 9 mln people (and still counting). United, which had failed to respond to Mr. Carroll’s complaints before, finally started listening.

Experts comment that social media websites “are giving once-faceless travelers a global — and instantaneous — platform from which to air their grievances” (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/30/business/global/30tweetair.html?_r=1 ) . On the other hand airlines and even airports embrace social media to reach out to bigger audiences, get a better grip on customer relations and monitor changes in public opinions.

1. Read the following article in the NY Times


 and answer questions below:

1.   For low-cost carriers there might be disincentives to start up or develop social media feeds, because: a) it is a costly operation that can’t be justified, b) a large following on Twitter or Facebook may raise suspicions that the account is supported by a large group of employees, c) because social media websites can be breached and accounts – stolen (Answer: b)

2.   It is surprising that airlines are not utilizing new media more efficiently in the age of technology, because: a) a lot of people are using web-enabled cell-phones and follow feeds, b) passengers request more social media presence, c) social media is the only way to address crises. (Answer: a)

3.   U.S. airlines were the first ones to embrace the phenomenon of social media and now utilize it mostly for: a) customer service queries, b) to make announcements about new routes, services and fare discounts, c) to inform passengers of potential mergers and negotiations, d) to dispel rumors or myths and get out accurate information, e) b and d (Answer: e)

4.   American carriers started using new media tools because: a) they needed to trial new technology, b) the public pressured them into it, c) they found social media tools to be low-cost public relations and marketing tools (Answer: c)

5.   Virgin Atlantic took skeptical remarks about their response to a disgruntled customer as a compliment, because: a) the response they gave was a good instance of efficient crisis management, b) their response was so timely and efficient that skeptics took it as a publicity stunt, c) the reason why their response was taken as a publicity stunt was because they reacted to the problem in a very timely manner (Answer: c)


2. Define the following words and phrases in a descriptive way. Use guesswork when necessary.


1)   When United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago damaged Dave Carroll’s $3,500 guitar last year, he tried to get his restitution from the airline the old-fashioned way.

2)   Mr. Carroll, a professional country music singer from Canada, channeled his frustration into a song and a video, which he posted on YouTube.

3)   United has scrambled to respond, also in nontraditional ways.

4)   The Internet, and social media Web sites in particular, is giving once-faceless travelers a global — and instantaneous — platform from which to air their grievances.

5)   Airlines that use social media effectively can come up with a public relations response just as quickly, using it to dispel rumors or myths and get out accurate information.”

6)   The Twitter account was purporting to be our official channel, which caused a lot of damage to our company.

7)   We’d like to forge a good, trusting relationship with our passengers.

Answers: 1) to get compensation or refund, 2) to convey or transmit frustration , 3) to struggle to do something frantically or hastily, 4) to expose, 5) to cause to vanish, 6) was pretending to be, posing, 7) to establish and develop

3. Use active vocabulary to fill in the gaps and form meaningful sentences:

1.   The company has……………………………………(answer: scrambled) to respond to the accusations on its Facebook page, but the uproar caused by the situation and the rumors that followed were tough to…………………………..(answer: dispel).

2.   It is unfortunate that our ex-employee chose to demonstrate passive- aggressive behavior that …………………………..(answer: purported) to be well-wishing.

3.   It is important that customers that have ……………………….(answer: aired)their dissatisfaction with the airline get a response from customer services.

4.   Despite a few stumbling blocks and ………………………………. (answer: disincentives) we were able to set up reliable social media channels.

5.   Our Facebook and Twitter presence have allowed us to ………………………….(answer: forge) a more trusting relationship with our clientele.

4. Read this article on Mashable giving social media usage guidelines to carriers

http://mashable.com/2010/02/09/airlines-hotels-social-media/. Answer the following questions:

1)   How many revenue driving social media usages does the airline branding expert single out? (Answer: 5)

2)   How would you define “distressed inventory”? (Answer: last-minute unsold seats on an aircraft)

3)   What does he offer to do with distressed inventory via social media? (Answer: he suggests that airlines announce last-minute available seats on social media feeds)

4)   What are “Twares” and “Cheeps”? (Answer: they are programs by United and JetBlue that clear off seats, i.e. distressed inventory)

5)   What does he recommend establishing before any accounts are open to public? (Answer: set expectations, e.g. that accounts will not be functioning as customer service feeds)

5.Determine whether the following statements are true or false:

1)   It is important to create private online communities because loyal customers like getting an exclusive experience and socially influential customers may become brand ambassadors (Answer: T)

2)   Lufthansa are not hammering their MySkyStatus followers with ads, because they believe building a relationship with their clientele comes first (Answer: T)

3)   It is possible to integrate with Social Media Travel Applications and pull out data that would eventually be profitable for the business (Answer: T)

4)   Social media reviews are an inhibiting factor during the online booking process (Answer: F)

5)   It is costly to start a private online community, so it may be a disincentive (Answer: F)



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