How European low-cost carriers engage with Twitter

An easyJet plane. Photo by UggBoy.
An easyJet plane. Photo by UggBoy.

I loved Airfarewatchdog’s recent summary of the Twitter feeds of six US airlines so much that I’m applying the treatment to four European low-cost carriers: the behemoth (Ryanair); the Teutonic giant (Air Berlin): the cheap-and-cheerful colossus (easyJet) and the Central European upstart (WizzAir). We’ll start with Ryanair, the boldest and biggest of the four.

Ryanair

Oops. Ryanair doesn’t maintain a Twitter account. According to this Times Online article published last year, the airline previously maintained two Twitter accounts. One of these (@Ryanair_DUB) is still up, though it hasn’t been updated since February, 2009. An unofficial account (@ryanairmobile) tweets summaries of and links to articles posted on Ryanair’s press release page.

Sample Tweet: Not applicable.

Strengths/Weaknesses: Not applicable.

Grade: 0/5.

Air Berlin

Several accounts deliver the message to different markets and in a range of languages. The main account (@airberlin) touts routes, deals, and interesting developments, though it isn’t updated on a daily basis. @airberlin_US is fond of retweeting notices about the airline from other sources, combining these with sale information and friendly conversational bursts. The Spanish (@airberlin_ES) and Italian (@airberlin_IT) accounts are only occasionally updated. The airline’s Swiss account (@airberlin_CH) has been updated three times over the past month.

Sample Tweet: Three days only: 30% off on #airberlin flights from Germany to #Italy! » http://tr.im/S5Qy #TravelTuesday

Strengths/Weaknesses: The sheer number of Air Berlin accounts is both a plus and a minus. On the one hand, the airline’s ability to approach different markets with targeted information is exciting; on the other, the airline’s brand and message become diluted somewhat by the range of accounts.

Grade: 2/5.

easyJet

easyJet wins the contest both in terms of frequency of tweets and customer responsiveness. Two accounts (@easyJet and @easyJetCare) engage seriously with customer issues, responding directly to complaints and anxieties while also publicizing sales, news, and offers here and there.

Sample Tweet: @keithdonnellyWhen was your flight? Apologies for delay. We’re facing high volume of correspondence, we’re doing our best to reply asap ^ZF

Strengths/Weaknesses: easyJet has been assailed over the years for its—how shall we put this?—understaffed customer service facilities, so it’s heartening to see the airline communicating with its customers via Twitter. That said, some problems are resolved here and others are merely deferred. A significant number of easyJet’s customer-oriented tweets do not solve problems but rather invite passengers to send emails and check the fine print of various policies.

Grade: 4/5.

WizzAir

WizzAir (@wizzair) posts a tweet once or twice a month, with a focus on route and airline news. The current Twitter feed gives readers very little. Anyone interested in the airline would be better off simply checking the airline’s press release page online.

Sample Tweet: Wizz Air launches two new routes to Spain from Poland.The flights will start on 24 April and operate two times a week, with fares at €42.49

Strengths/Weaknesses: Frequency of tweets is a big minus. Some tweets are also carelessly slammed out without much regard for how they might be put to practical use. See sample tweet above, and wonder which cities in Poland and Spain will be connected, as well as whether that €42.49 is a one-way or round trip fare.

Grade: 1/5.

About the author

Alex Robertson Textor
About the author: Bitten by the travel bug at 11, Alex Robertson Textor has fond childhood memories of ultracheap Spanish hotels (the kind with Styrofoam shelving) and supermarket lunches scarfed on park benches. Formerly an academic, Alex has spent the last several years redirecting his professional life into full-time travel journalism and editing. He has published articles in the New York Times, Guardian Unlimited, Condé Nast Traveler, Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian, among other publications.
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