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Hurricane Irene: Grading the Airlines

Delta airlines

When Mother Nature unleashes her wrath, there’s not much air travelers can do except wait it out. And, of course, reschedule their flights. But as we know, getting through to a customer service rep is half the battle. And we’re not just talking about reaching them by phone; when customers tweet, they expect a response. Pronto.

So with Hurricane Irene storming her way up the East Coast last week, what airlines were most easily reachable? STELLAService—an independent company that rates customer service quality—wanted to find out. So on Friday, August 26, they called each of the 10 largest U.S. airlines an average of eight times between 9am and 6:30 pm ET. They also directed 12 tweets to each airline between 12am ET and 12pm ET that day.

The results were all over the map. By phone, US Airways was the big winner, keeping callers on hold just 2 minutes 38 seconds on average. American Airlines fared less well—by a lot: wait times were 1 hour and 33 minutes on average.

On Twitter, Delta came out on top, responding to 100% of the tweets within 14 seconds on average. Only JetBlue responded faster—within 11 seconds—but didn’t get to all of the tweets. Four airlines didn’t respond at all.

Just one more thing to keep in mind next time you’re choosing an airline, especially during hurricane season. And if you’re not happy with the response you get, take a number and get in line to complain.

The full results are below:

Call Wait Times
1. US Airways: 0:02:38
2. Southwest Airlines: 0:08:10
3. Continental: 0:08:15
4. United Airlines: 0:12:04
5. Spirit Airlines: 0:24:07
6. JetBlue: 0:24:16
7. AirTran: 0:27:52
8. Frontier Airlines: 0:29:54
9. Delta Airlines: 0:33:43
10. American Airlines: 1:32:39

Twitter Response Times
1. Delta Airlines: 0:14; Responded to 100% of Tweets
2. Frontier Airlines: 4:04; Responded to 100% of Tweets
3. JetBlue: 0:11; Responded to 83.3% of Tweets
4. Southwest Airlines: 6:12; Responded to 83.3% of Tweets
5. Spirit Airlines: 1:10; Responded to 41.7% of Tweets
6. US Airways: 0:24; Responded to 16.7% of Tweets
7. AirTran: No response
8. American Airlines: No response
9. Continental: No response
10. United Airlines: No response

Photo by Lyndsey Matthews

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