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Published January 22nd 2015

Passengers Have Changed, But Have The Airlines Serving Them?

We take a look at how passengers have changed, and how airlines can use social insights to keep on top of the changes

There was once a day, I’m told, where taking a flight was such an event that passengers would don their Sunday best just for the privilege of that multi-hour seated journey.

Nowadays, it seems comfort has taken precedence, with sweatpants, jeans, and U-shaped neck rests dominating the skies.

In fact, airplanes seem to be a safe haven for revealing strange behaviors in public, be that an odd pre-sleep ritual, seated stretching technique or eating behavior.


Similarly, today’s passengers take to social media to share their thoughts, opinions and experiences throughout their flight.

There is an expectation now that airlines will be prepared to quickly and appropriately handle complaints on social.

In our Travel & Hospitality report, we examine the ways in which social media has affected airlines, accommodations and travel agencies.

What matters most to passengers?

Using Brandwatch Analytics, we examined the social conversations around 12 major airlines over the course of 2 ½ months.

The figure below reveals what topics were the most commonly discussed during flights.


Seating, Special Requirements, Service and Food were the most discussed topics.

For airline brands, understanding how important each of these categories are helps them gain insight into what is important for passengers.

For example, this figure suggests that improving the seating would have a much stronger affect on the brand’s reputation than investing in the entertainment.

Where does your airline stand?

Additionally, airlines can use social data to understand how the public perceives their brand.

The figure below reveals the ratio of conversations indicating a brand is premium to discussions suggesting an airline is low cost for nine airlines.


For Delta, these results suggest that they are the most premium airline according to passengers while Ryanair is the cheapest.

Using the insights to inform your strategy

These findings can be a strong contribution to important decisions on how to direct the business and brand image.

For example, a mid-level brand like Virgin may see an opportunity to develop its image as a premium airline or discover that there aren’t enough airlines supplying low cost options.

From the clothing to the behaviors to the way they communicate, travelers have changed. For brands in the travel and hospitality sector, meeting the new demands and preferences of these consumers means adapting.

These are just a couple of the insights we pulled for our sector report. You can find many others by downloading the full content.

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