Chris Brogan tweets, JetBlue replies. Kevin Smith is upset. Southwest VP calls him. The common man speaks. The airline brand listens.

It’s the long weekend in many countries. Canada, US, most of Asia-Pacific are on a holiday. Yet, it’s very nice to see that airlines are listening. Chris Brogan tweeted today that he’d pay JetBlue $7,200 for one year of unlimited flying “pass”. And @JetBlue immediately replied that they’re “listening”.

Somewhere else on Twitterland, Christi Day of Southwest Airlines was dealing with an outburst from @TheKevinSmith, on Valentine’s Day eve, which finally involved Southwest’s VP calling Smith personally.

Though these may seem like normal twitter conversations, to me they reflect a paradigm shift in the way airlines have started to deal with their customers. It wasn’t too long ago, where I had to print out and post a letter to an airline for a missed-connection claim, because their email inbox was full! And the matter took over 5mths to get resolved (in the end, I didn’t get my $$).

JetBlue and Southwest have both been beacons of change in the industry, and they’ve shown a more human side of airlines – generally considered faceless corporations. Kudos to their efforts to connect with the customer directly, and truly listen. I think it shows where the future of customer service is heading.

What do you think? Has your favorite airline been listening to you lately?

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Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam is a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is the Founder and CEO of SimpliFlying, one of the world’s largest aviation marketing firms working with over 85 aviation clients in the last ten years. Nigam is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior executives globally, from Chile to China. Nigam’s impassioned and honest perspectives on airline marketing have found their way to over 100 leading media outlets, including the BBC, CNBC, Reuters and Bloomberg, and into leading publications such as The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He writes a dedicated monthly column in Flight’s Airline Business, challenging the typical assumptions about airline marketing. His new book on airline marketing, SOAR, is an Amazon bestseller that’s shaking up the industry and inspiring other industries to learn from the best airlines. Born in India, raised in Singapore, he now lives with his wife and two young daughters in Toronto.
Shashank Nigam
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Showing 15 comments
  • Christi Day

    Twitter gives us the opportunity to see what REALLY matters to our Customers. In a way focus groups, surveys, etc sometimes can't show us. The passion that unfolded around our particular situation last night, was no doubt challenging to respond to. However, it allows us the opportunity to address an obviously deeper issue, on a broader scale, with more ears listening. Like you posted, we've reached out via Twitter and phone to Mr. Smith. Hopefully, we'll have a chance to speak with him and personally apologize for his experience.

    Great post, as always!


    • Shashank Nigam

      Well Christi, kudos to you and your team for so patiently and
      dedicatedly handling such issues, again and again. Your efforts give
      me examples I can share with a lot more airlines around the world,
      most of whom have “chickened out” when confronted with the possibility
      of a situation like the one you're handling.

  • ErikaLehmann

    Almost a year and a half ago I found myself stuck in NYC for a photoshoot with no luggage on a flight from Orlando to NYC. The on-site staff were not helpful in the least, I was freezing my tushie off (Orlando –> NYC is a significant temp change) and they wouldn't give me any sort of help until it had been 24 hours or so that my luggage was MIA. My bag included all of my clothing for my 6 am call the next morning. It was 9 pm when I arrived.

    I tweeted my plight, and others did too – eventually I got a response from @JetBlue who helped me to find my luggage and also reimbursed me for the extra $200 bucks I spent in cabs on a wild goose chase that I was sent on trying to find my luggage. That was a year and a half ago. I realized how powerful Twitter was at that time. Now I wonder if a tweet to the same effect would get the same response. Twitter has changed a lot in the past 1.5 years. Would my situation, now that the landscape of Twitter has changed and usage become more common, still get any attention? I would hope so. Only time will tell if airlines and other companies will continue to listen to the masses via these social media mediums, and not just those with extreme amounts of influence.

    It's all about how you treat the little folks that counts. 🙂

    • Shashank Nigam

      @Erika, your is a story so many of us can relate too. I'm sure most of
      the frequent travelers would have lost their bags at one point or the
      other. The important point to note though, is that you were responded
      to immediately by @JetBlue on Twitter as well. And the treatment is
      not just limited to “celebrity bloggers” or tweeters. And that's where
      the paradigm shift is happening. Yes, it's with the celebrities
      airlines probably learn their lessons and ways, but it's the common
      man they ultimately benefit.

  • oussama

    Kudos Jet Blue and Southwest Airlines for listening. For showing all of us that this industry is all about people. People who fly on airplanes and people who make it possible, be it flight and cabin crews, maintenance, ground staff, etc. A fact that has been forgotten by legacy airlines as they became bigger and bigger and lost sight of what their mission was, is and will always be; fly people safely and conveniently from one point to another.

  • leosu122

    he is very upset very sad everyone having deelings

    • Shashank Nigam

      Yeah, Kevin Smith seems to be on a Twitter rampage! I hope Christi's
      and Southwest's efforts pacify him soon.

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