Which airline soars above the rest? Ask Twitter.

by Alyssa Daniells

Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are accessible and powerful platforms for people to opine on their dealings with airlines and hotels.

More often than not, customers are compelled to share negative, rather than positive experiences, with the travel industry.

Now there is software by an American company called Luminoso that analyzes these Tweets, ensuring they don’t fall on deaf ears (or as the case may be, blind eyes), which typically happens. From improperly tagged Tweets, complaints with no logical resolution, to sheer volume, companies aren’t able to address all feedback, whether it’s good or bad.

Luminoso’s software collected and surveyed 157,330 Tweets to determine which airlines rank highest in customer satisfaction. For such information, valuable to public relations initiatives and beyond, to be in the “Twitterverse” and not having a direct impact is like a gold mine with no drill.

The five airlines Luminoso targeted were Virgin America, Jet Blue, Delta, American Airlines and United. (That order is how they ranked, from best to worst.) After pulling these names from Twitter posts during the month of August, the “conceptual text analytics software” organized these mentions into categories like “customer service,” “cancellations and delays,” ‘in-flight entertainment” and “seating.”

virgin amerVirgin America soared above its competitors, receiving the most praising Tweets by customers. United received the most negative comments overall.

The language used within a Tweet was analyzed by extracting terminology like “flight delay” and “hate” which would lower an airline’s rating in that category, while “crew” and “love” for example, would boost its rank.

Of course, Luminoso’s findings are not absolute. This cross-section of opinions is limited to social networking and with Twitter, limited characters and room for expression. It was also a month’s sampling, so a longer period of time would provide a more accurate reflection of public sentiment. The software is however, an interesting way for the travel industry and customers to understand how they are doing and presents a compelling opportunity for greater performance assessments.