Royal Brunei Airlines emergency landing of flight BI098 – SimpliBrilliant Crises Management in the digital age

While air travel is one of the safest mode of transportation, emergencies do occur sometimes and on April 15, 2012, a Royal Brunei Airlines flight had a hiccup. Here’s what was posted on the airline’s blog about the incident:

Royal Brunei Airlines Boeing 777-200 flight number BI098, from Dubai to Bandar Seri Begawan, on 15 April 2012, made a precautionary landing in Mumbai, India following an aircraft system alert ‘AFT Cargo Fire’ that necessitated the flight to be diverted to the nearest airport at that time.  BI098 landed safely at Mumbai at 19:24 (GMT +5:30). Royal Brunei Airlines can confirm that no passengers were injured.

Flawless crises management, supported by social media

While such a statement and a press release is only to be expected after any incident, their blog, Facebook page and Twitter account was not just abuzz with regular updates, there was ample two-way interaction too.

First, generic updates were put out, then messages directed toward the stranded passengers were posted and then once relatives of passengers learnt that’s where they could get the latest information, the airline staff actively engaged with them too. Very soon, some of the stranded passengers themselves started asking questions and getting personalised answers themselves. And all this on a Sunday!

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Not only did this active engagement right after the crisis go a long way in calming nerves of the passengers and the relatives, anyone watching the conversation as an observer would be impressed by how well the airline has been taking care of the passengers (free wifi, laundry, international calls, meals etc) and also communicating so actively. It shows flawless execution on the part of the Corporate Communications team and we can clearly see that social-media activation was part of the standard operating procedure during a crisis.

Even if someone has not flown Royal Brunei Airlines, such incidences help establish trust for the future, more than any advertising campaign ever can. After all, isn’t it a rule of PR, that you should put your best foot forward when the world is watching you? Like in times of a crises?

Our recent Top 10 Case Studies on Airline Crises Management covered the best airlines in the trade. Royal Brunei certainly would make the cut the next time we put this deck together.

Meanwhile, be impressed by some of the screenshots of the interactions led by the Royal Brunei Airlines team.

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Showing 5 comments
  • Oussama

    Never waste a good crisis. Royal Brunei definitely did not, the mileage and goodwill they will get is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Social media should be an integral part of any emergency response plan.

  • John Rodgers

    I was one of the passengers on that flight and can assure you that your praise for the airline is unjustified. I and the other 195 passengers where left stranded and disowned by the crew. I am disgusted that you are able to report on this incident in such a positive way. The persons that where using social media to report false accounts should be held accountable. Few of the stranded passengers had any means to access this social media and those that did was at there own data roaming high costs. As passengers we tried several times to explain that the airline was giving false information but our comments were removed. How’s that flawless crisis management. I found the crew having a KFC, 8 hours after we landed whilst all the passengers where left to fend for themselves without as much as a single word from anyone including the crew. This is not the end of my attempt to out the real events of Flight BI098. That is unless all websites continue to remove blogs

    • Shashank Nigam

      Hi John – thanks for sharing your perspective. Our analysis was based on the responses seen on social media (as seen in the screenshots), independently. And there was evidence of passengers and their relatives interacting with one another.

      RBA had posts on Facebook detailing that all passengers were given free wifi and buffet dinner and breakfast. Hence, I’m surprised to hear your account. Thanks for adding perspective to the situation, and I’d leave it to the airline to clarify.

  • Royal Brunei Airlines

    Dear Mr Rodgers,

    We appreciate that social media is only one method to communicate to passengers in times of crisis. In respect of this incident, lessons have been learnt and your points have been noted.

    We reiterate that it is not our policy to remove our passengers comments on our social media channels. Free wifi (plus meals and laundry) were provided at both The Lalit in Mumbai, and The Empire in Brunei. We are expecting claims for telephone/roaming charges for those passengers who used their own telephones during the time at Mumbai Airport.

    Yours sincerely.

    Royal Brunei Airlines

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  • […] Of the seven airlines, only JetBlue and Delta seemed to have 24/7 operations, SimpliFlying found. For most airlines, the Twitter support is a 12 hour operation. To look at the entire study, click here. […]

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