Anyone who has ever made the mistake of flying has almost certainly also thought about posting something nasty about an airline on social media -- and maybe even gone and done it, if only to vent one’s frustration. But which airline is actually the most hated by its customers? Well, now we know: Crimson Hexagon has compiled lists ranking the major airlines by positive and negative sentiment, based on its analysis of millions of tweets posted in 2014 and the first part of 2015.
It’s United Airlines and American Airlines by a mile! The two biggest U.S. airlines are tied for the most negative sentiment, with a remarkable 56% of tweets about both airlines containing criticisms or complaints. Delta wasn’t far behind, with 53% of tweets containing negative sentiment, while Irish discount carrier RyanAir and JetBlue were tied for the next spot at 46% negativity.
The volume of tweets containing positive sentiments about airlines tended to be much lower. Here JetBlue led the way with a 34% positive rating, followed by Southwest at 28%, KLM at 27%, Virgin Atlantic at 27%, and United at 24%. Of course, as the presence of JetBlue and United on both lists indicates, even airlines that get some positive comments can find these drowned out by a larger volume of negative comments.
Overall, 47% of tweets about the five biggest U.S. carriers (United, American, Delta, Southwest, and JetBlue) were negative, compared to just 20% positive, Crimson Hexagon found. The total volume of tweets mentioning these airlines has increased 209% since January 2012.
Turning to specific areas of complaint, 26% of the negative posts for United concerned customer service, with the rest focusing on things like delays, lost luggage and the like.
Among other recommendations, Crimson Hexagon noted that JetBlue has benefited by adapting its Twitter communications with customers to match social media, for example by adopting a more informal, personal tone -- something other airlines, like American, have failed to do.
However not everyone agrees with this approach. This week Spirit announced that it is putting a robot in charge of its Twitter account, explaining: “A big social media team costs money, so we put our feed on autopilot to save you cents on every ticket.”