The common perception among travelers is that the holidays are a terrible time to travel, especially the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving. However, when social analytics firm 4C insights looked into the social media mentions that airlines received during the Thanksgiving travel rush, they found that mentions weren’t unusual when compared to any other time in November.
The first trend of note is that there are increased numbers of travelers over Thanksgiving, and this correlated with an increase in airline mentions during the same period. However, most of the week is normal and the spike in social mentions doesn’t occur until flyers are making return journeys.
So the usual assumption is that because of increased numbers of flyers there is an increase in negative sentiment towards airlines. But that isn’t the case.
According to the 4C post on Medium:
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is frequently billed “the worst travel day of the year,” but our analysis shows the day is no different than any other day in the minds of travelers. Even on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, despite more than 3,000 flights being delayed or cancelled, negative sentiment did not surpass a typical November weekend.
Some of the few increases in negative engagement that 4C noted were caused by external factors, such as a bomb threat on an American Airlines flight. Another blip for Jetblue occurred when they banned a YouTuber from a flight after he incited followers to tweet Mean Girls jokes at the Jet Blue account after he allegedly received poor customer service.
It may be the case that Thanksgiving travelers have been prepared for the worst, as have airlines, and both have ended up pleasantly surprised by how smoothly the holiday travel went. Airlines have been increasing the reach and quality of their social media customer service in recent years, and the trend could be paying off. Listening to customers in a time of need may not just keep complaints down, but it could help foster growth.