A Statistical Analysis of How American Airlines is Mastering Customer Service on Twitter

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Martin Daniel of Unmetric, an exclusive aviation partner of SimpliFlying. Unmetric is a social media benchmarking company that helps brands analyse how well they’re doing on social media by including in-depth insights into numerous metrics as well as information on what kind of content “works” and how competitors are faring. Among Unmetric’s list of illustrious clients are Toyota, Subway and Cisco.  [push h=”16″]

Ever since the Cluetrain Manifesto revealed that ‘markets are conversations’ and ‘silence is fatal’, the emphasis on conversations between brands and customers has never been so vital. With the advent of social media, real time communication has become the norm and the customer service bar has been raised again and again. Providing customer service via online channels has not only become easier but also very demanding as a brand’s customer service excellence or rather, its very reputation hinges on its ability to respond to customers’ queries in real time.

With Twitter increasingly used as the primary channel for customers to communicate with brands, its 140 character limit has made it an art to master for quick and effective customer service. If there is one sector which has leveraged Twitter for real time customer service, it is the aviation sector. Air travel is stressful and queries of all types are aimed at the airlines with an expectation of clear, quick and appropriate responses.

We, at Unmetric, did an in-depth analysis using the arsenal of tools in our platform and found out that American Airlines seems to have mastered the art of customer service on Twitter in the aviation sector. To put that statement in perspective, American Airlines replied to a whopping 30,474 tweets at an average reply time of 12 minutes in November 2013.



As shown in the above chart, none of the other airlines comes even close to amount of queries handled by American Airlines. The airline responded to 76.5% of the mentions during the time period analyzed, which is more than twice the North American aviation sector average of 34%.



The correlation between the mentions of @AmericanAir and tweets by @AmericanAir has been very consistent as shown below. Whenever there is a mention of @AmericanAir, the airline goes all out to either acknowledge it or to resolve a customer query. American Airlines sure knows that being silent is fatal and responding to customer queries is the first step in resolving any issue.


American Airlines has the highest mentions count in the aviation sector with 39,296 mentions during the time period analyzed, which is more than 19 times the sector average of 1,994.



They also hardly let a query go unanswered more than 15 minutes of it being asked, as shown below. Only 2,634 queries have gone beyond the 15 minutes range among the 30,474 queries answered. This tells a lot about the swiftness of the organized and dedicated team at its Twitter command centre.



Plain text was the most common reply type employed by the airline in replying with 22,540 tweets containing just plain texts.  The airline was also quick to apologize when necessary and the tweets with an apology were the second most common reply type.





The number of queries peaked between 9AM and 4PM on an average on any given day and American Airlines matched it with super-fast replies which are evident in the short average reply times during the same period as shown below.



Fridays seem to be the busiest day of the week for @AmericanAir and once again the airline efficiently replies to more than 5,700 tweets with an astounding average reply time of just 8 minutes. This shows just how well the airline is equipped to handle peak time traffic on its Twitter handle.




Apart from replying to a huge number of queries in record time, American Airlines also tweets extensively about its campaigns, even though these proactive tweets form just 1% of the total tweets during the time period analyzed.


The ‘Spot the #newAmerican’ sweepstakes generated lots of buzz for the airline on Twitter. The #newAmerican hashtag was the most used hashtag by the airline and its followers in November.


The tweets around the FAA approval to use portable electronic devices on flights saw high engagement with the hashtag #gatetogate being the most engaging hashtag for the brand in November with an engagement score of 526.




American Airlines has definitely mastered the art of customer service using 140 characters with its unique capacity to efficiently handle a huge volume of queries in record time. Brands should emulate American Airlines and invest in a dedicated and efficient social media customer service team with the focus on tweeting out precise, helpful and quick responses in real time. All this does suggest that American Airlines has the best Twitter team. The ability of a brand to deliver on the customer service front is essential as it can make or break a brand. And remember, in social media, silence is fatal.

Disclosure:  American Airlines is one of Unmetric’s clients, but that had no influence on the article. The data speaks for itself.


Unmetric compiled this report by sourcing data from its own social media benchmarking platform. Data and Insights on American Airlines’ activities on Twitter were analyzed for the month of November, 2013.


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Showing 2 comments
  • malbarda

    First of all, thank you for a very useful analysis that shines a light on some of the most (and least) impressive statistics when it comes to airlines’ responsiveness to customer comments.

    From my own experience as a very frequent flyer, I can attest that AA is pretty good at responding quickly. But so is Delta’s @DeltaAssist which seems to be missing from your analysis (as obviously are many other airlines as you are only showing what I assume is a sampling). I would say though that if you’re going to show AA, UA and SouthWest you should probably also include DL.

    Anyway, thanks again for sharing these data points. What gets measured gets done 🙂

    • Martin Daniel

      Hi Malbarda, glad that you found the analysis useful. Yes, there are many other airlines who are quick in responding to customer queries. The reason we chose to write about AA was that their reply metrics on Twitter was getting better and better each month when compared to other airlines.

      We will definitely include Delta in our analysis when we do a wider airline sector report.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. 🙂


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