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First comprehensive Guide to Airline Social Media strategies released


A new guide aimed at helping airlines understand and implement successful Social Media strategies has been released. Researched by Innovation Analysis Group and, in association with the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, the report states that while it is early days for social media as a B2C tool, “the scale of activity at the non-commercial level is such that businesses cannot help but seek to tap into what may prove to be a lucrative flow”.

Today Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and online blogs, offer largely unexplored new advertising and promotion platforms.

In the report’s Foreword, Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation Executive Chairman, Peter Harbison, notes, “as always, low cost airlines tend to be the innovators in this area, but – perhaps in a sign of the changed times – many full service airlines have strongly bought into the Social Media sites too”.

The early movers are seeing some positive spin-offs from their activity. JetBlue for example has almost 1.2 million followers on Twitter. In August 2009, the airline carried just over twice that many passengers, but it is difficult to determine if there is any significant relationship between the two. 12 months from now, the evidence will be there, either way.

The report notes that the airline industry is by nature conservative – decisions are made deliberately and often slowly. But social media is evolving quickly; frequently out running an airline’s ability to develop formal policies of how to handle such communications. By the time various departments, like legal, have made their input and guidance, the technology has moved on.

There is another persistent issue – staffing levels. Airlines have eviscerated their staffing levels to a minimum. This is especially true among the US airlines, where people involved with social media are frequently doing the function as a part-time job (intern) or simultaneously with another job. Given the flow of information, this is virtually a guarantee of failure. 

Listen now to a Podcast on Airlines and Social Media by Peter Harbison and report authors, Steven Frischling and Addison Schonland.

About the report: The Airline Industry & Social Media: A must-have strategic guide for airline marketing and sales

The report offers a sequential social media roll-out plan for airlines, including a summary of the “DOs and DON’Ts” of Social Media and numerous case study examples. It aims to educate and help airlines formulate strategic responses to a branding and distribution opportunity that is too big to ignore.

The 15,000 word, 62-page report is available for purchase and instant download here.

The report provides a comprehensive analysis of numerous airlines and their use of social media. The analysis is based on primary and secondary research. It details the short and evolving impact of social media on travel generally, and airlines specifically. It also provides a detailed road map for successful deployment of social media. A number of airlines’ use of Twitter is analyzed – demonstrating how these airlines have done well or are falling behind.

The report lists the Top Three Twittering Airlines; JetBlue, Southwest and Virgin America. It analyses Twitter activities at Air Baltic, Air New Zealand, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, jetBlue, Kenya Airways, Qantas, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and Virgin America.

"Many airlines appear to start up their Twitter streams without much research into how to effectively engage customers and potential customers. Most importantly, the majority of airlines on Twitter do not appear to have a defined strategy for addressing customer complaints and concerns", said Frischling.

“Some airlines have moved quickly and effectively to exploit social media,” said Schonland.  “We believe that despite early successes, many airlines may be at risk because of the rapid changes in social media. Fortunately there are simple guidelines that, if followed, could ensure even late starters can catch up and succeed.”

Mr Harbison stated, “this is a must-read guide to the fast-changing social media world, you HAVE to have this guide if you are going to be in the game”.

The 15,000 word, 62-page report is available for purchase and instant download here.

Table of Contents:

About the authors

Steven Frischling is a recognized airline travel expert and global photographer who has a knack for making sense of detailed, complex travel scenarios and understanding the intricate nature of the commercial airline industry. Steven’s involvement in social media dates back to working with Kodak as an original forum moderator in their America Online forums in 1994; creating a direct online customer interaction and content search facilitation pilot program for global photographic equipment manufacturer Tamron-Bronica in 1996; and with the Discovery Channel Online to pioneer the widespread online usage of iPix interactive photography in 1998.  In the interest of sharing Steven’s in-depth knowledge of travel logistics and the intricate workings of business travel, he founded the popular broad-based nuts-and-bolts travel blog Flying With Fish ( in 2006. Additional information can be found at

Addison Schonland heads Innovation Analysis Group, an aviation focused market-research and consultancy based in the United States, and has worked with aircraft manufacturers, engine manufacturers, airlines and the air travel sector.  Addison has been an innovator in new media, and publishes a successful aviation blog and on-line information resource. He holds degrees in Sociology, Economics and Finance for the University of Cape Town, South Africa and a doctorate in business administration from Rushmore University. He was previously with PA Consulting Group and has been involved with commercial aviation for over twenty years.

Additional information can be found at

Listen now to a Podcast on Airlines and Social Media by Peter Harbison and report authors, Steven Frischling and Addison Schonland.

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