"To celebrate our new in-flight wine selection, tell us why 'You’d Rather Be Drinking Wine than Working,’ " tweeted Southwest Airlines.
Fans of American Airlines’ New York Facebook page got 10-percent-off coupons when the page reached 10,000 fans in May.
And a video of a Northwest Boeing 747 being repainted with the new Delta colors, posted in January, has been viewed over 200,000 times on YouTube.
These are just some of the ways that airlines have started using social-media networks to boost their brands and interact with customers.
While consumers have long viewed the Internet as a way to vent frustration and complain about air travel, airlines are now actively engaging their customers via the Web. Some airlines, like JetBlue and Southwest, jumped wholeheartedly into the world of social media, launching blogs and Twitter accounts a couple of years ago, but most are cautiously tiptoeing into this new form of customer relations.
"We’re seeing a lot of testing by airlines," said Forrester Research analyst Henry Harteveldt. No one, he said, wants to be in the same situation as United Airlines was this summer when a Canadian musician posted a music video on YouTube describing how the airline destroyed his guitar. "They are trying to figure out, given limited staff and limited budget, what’s going to get them the best return from social media."
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