Which Airlines Are The Fastest & Slowest At Responding To Customers On Twitter?

Complaining on Twitter can often feel like trying to shout to someone across the street with a noisy parade going down the middle. And that disconnect can often get worse when trying to get the attention of a big company with hundreds or thousands of people vying for attention. Some companies now go to great lengths to make sure that customers get some sort of response within minutes, but is that response of any value?

The folks at Skift.com recently published data, culled from its SkiftIQ platform, on the airlines with the speediest response times to consumers on Twitter.

THE FASTEST
Four of the eight fastest responders were U.S.-based carriers, including the top two airlines: American Airlines, with an average response time of 12 minutes, and JetBlue, following close behind at 15 minutes.

A little further down the list was U.S. Airways, which takes an average of 38 minutes to get back to Twitter queries. Southwest also made the cut of the top responders by taking 50 minutes to reply.

Though it wasn’t included in this list, Skift tells Consumerist that Delta‘s @DeltaAssist customer service Twitter account posts a respectable 24-minute average response time to consumers’ Tweets.

THE SLOWEST
Given how a wait of a few minutes can wreak havoc on a travelers’ itinerary, some airlines take what seems like forever to respond to Twitter complaints.

In spite of its consumer-friendly reputation, Skift’s data shows that Virgin America takes two full hours to respond to Tweets, while United averages slightly longer wait times, with 139 minutes.

Frontier breaks the 3-hour response time barrier with an average of 182 minutes, but that’s nothing compared to the likes of the self-proclaimed “most consumer-friendly airline,” Spirit, which takes a lackadaisical 328 minutes (nearly 5.5 hours) to respond to travelers on Twitter.

DOES FAST EQUAL GOOD?
A speedy response time certainly can’t be a bad thing, unless the person (or reply-bot) just says something like “Thanks!” or “Go away!” without actually trying to help you.

“Airlines do occasionally use canned responses,” Skift’s Samantha Shankman tells Consumerist. “What I’ve seen in talking to airlines is that there is usually human staff responding to the most pressing concerns first and during daytime hours.”

And just because an airline doesn’t respond publicly doesn’t mean that it’s not responding in a more private way. Shankman says some carriers choose to direct-message Twitter followers, especially when they need to ask things like ticket details, account info, baggage claim numbers. An airline can only DM a Twitter user if he or she is following that airline’s Twitter account, so it may be in your best interest to follow the accounts of airlines on which you’re flying, at least for the time during which you’re traveling.

“I think speed is good because it hopefully takes the flyer one step closer to a solution,” says Shankman, who advises that it’s still wise for consumers to check out airlines’ Twitter feeds to get a feel for how they handle customer complaints in the semi-public forum.