[LIVE!] How airlines and EuroControl are conquering Icelandinc volcanic ash through social media #ashtag

In times of crises these days in the airline industry, the website is no longer the place to go to – it gets updated far too slowly and the information is generic. Call centers too, are flooded with requests, and you don’t want to be placed on a long hold when you’re anxious about your next flight!

Real-time social media to the rescue!

The place to look for answers and support are no longer the Web 1.0 websites of airlines, or call centers – rather it’s real-time tools like Twitter. Most European airlines that have a social media presence have been updating their followers about their respective flight delays etc. Some are doing a better job at others.

While Lufthansa’s German Twitter feed is announcing cancellation of all flights till noon on Saturday (and probably beyond), Virgin Atlantic is posting updates on their Facebook fanpage. On another hand, airBaltic [Disclosure: SimpliFlying client] is tactfully handling customer service issues through Twitter.

EuroControl on social media and #ashtag

The most impressive efforts, surprisingly, are coming from the authorities! The folks at EuroControl are doing a phenomenal job at crises management – probably the best effort I’ve seen till date in aviation crises management through social media. EuroControl describes itself as “The European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation. We ensure that your European flight will be safe, punctual, sustainable and won’t cost too much.” And they’re certainly living up to their word! (Frankly, I had not heard about EuroControl till this morning!)

On their homepage, they have got recently-updated maps of where the ash is coming from, where it’s going to and implications. That’s normal – regular website updates. Where they’ve amazed me is they have updated their Facebook fanpage, Twitter account and even relevant LinkedIn groups with very useful information for travelers! Moreover, they have been liberally using the Twitter hashtags #euva and #ashtag to inform customers. Now, the customers themselves have started sharing stories and tips using these hashtags.

Now, that’s what I call a solid performance. Take a look here at screenshots from EuroControl’s multiple online efforts. I think airlines’ communication teams can take a lesson out of EuroControl’s efforts.

Maps from the EuroControl homepage

(source: FlyingWithFish)

EuroControl’s Twitter feed

EuroControl’s Facebook Fanpage

Frankly, I would have loved to see other crises being handled this way. Imagine if LAN had done this after the Chile Earthquake. Or British Airways during the strike. Don’t you think so? Let’s here it in the comments and on Twitter (@simpliflying)

P.S: Special thanks to Miyuru (@airlineindustry) for the inspiration for this article.

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam is the CEO of SimpliFlying and a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought-leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior aviation executives globally, from Chile to Canada and from Sydney to San Francisco. Shashank's perspectives have found their way into major media outlets, including CNN Travel, CNBC, MSNBC, Bloomberg UTV, Mashable and in leading publications like Airline Business, ATW, Aviation Week, and others. Shashank studied Information Systems Management and Business Management at Singapore Management University and Carnegie Mellon University. Hailing from India, he splits his time between Singapore and Vancouver, among other cities.
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Showing 16 comments
  • oussama
    Reply

    Let us not waste a good crises, there are and will be a lot of lessons learnt. It may be Euro Control's finest hour in setting a new standard. Airline's whether involved in the disruption or not should draw lessons and move forward. We all have a long way to go. Kudos Euro Control

  • AirlineIndustryReviw
    Reply

    @Shashank Thanks for the mention. EUROCONTROL is the main ATC body for Europe. The Single European Sky is a project of them. Their CFMU is handling all the European traffic, and on this occassion, they have a huge duty to handle the navigation situation. What is suprising is that they're an institue that has more to do with airlines than public, yet they are superbly assisting the public. I've never seen such good crisis management in aviation before.

  • AirlineIndustryReviw
    Reply

    @Shashank Thanks for the mention. EUROCONTROL is the main ATC body for Europe. The Single European Sky is a project of them. Their CFMU is handling all the European traffic, and on this occassion, they have a huge duty to handle the navigation situation. What is suprising is that they're an institue that has more to do with airlines than public, yet they are superbly assisting the public. I've never seen such good crisis management in aviation before.

  • AirlineIndustryReviw
    Reply

    @Shashank Thanks for the mention. EUROCONTROL is the main ATC body for Europe. The Single European Sky is a project of them. Their CFMU is handling all the European traffic, and on this occassion, they have a huge duty to handle the navigation situation. What is suprising is that they're an institue that has more to do with airlines than public, yet they are superbly assisting the public. I've never seen such good crisis management in aviation before.

  • AirlineIndustryReviw
    Reply

    @Shashank Thanks for the mention. EUROCONTROL is the main ATC body for Europe. The Single European Sky is a project of them. Their CFMU is handling all the European traffic, and on this occassion, they have a huge duty to handle the navigation situation. What is suprising is that they're an institue that has more to do with airlines than public, yet they are superbly assisting the public. I've never seen such good crisis management in aviation before.

  • Simon Lindgren
    Reply

    Very nice post about social media and the #ashtag! I also recommend my own analysis of this at http://bit.ly/simonlindgren

  • Sheila Scarborough
    Reply

    Great article; like many I hadn't heard of Euro Control before, so went and checked out their Facebook page and Twitter account. Pretty impressive.

  • Ron Callari
    Reply

    Great job Shashank. I was contemplating writing a similar blog – but you did such a thorough job with yours, I suggest any one interested in learning how best to handle a crisis of this magnitude – read Shashank's take on this topic. And then if you want to mix in a little levity – head over to my 'tongue and cheek' take on the issue – with my blog, titled “Lost's 'Smoke Monster' & Volcanic Ash Plume: One & The Same?” –> http://bit.ly/9io9VC – ( note: 'LOST' Spoiler – it was all John Locke's fault! 😉

  • Shashank Nigam
    Reply

    @Ron: Thanks! Glad you fount it useful 🙂

  • Richard Ziskind
    Reply

    We as a charter airline have the luxury of rerouting our trips thru alternate cities. We have had 100% completion rate for our flights. Having a team of airline professionals used to change has enabled us to be creative to meet the changes to this situation.

  • Shashank Nigam
    Reply

    @Richard: That's the unique advantage you have, and you've utilized it well I must say

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