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PostSubject: UK airlines nowhere on Facebook   Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:34 am

[size=50:33c6v4ov]Sunday Telegraph

[size=150:33c6v4ov]UK airlines nowhere on Facebook

Travellers are increasingly using social media for flying and overseas airlines are stealing a march on their UK rivals.

The relationship between airlines and social media appears to be deepening every day with a raft of news announcements and it is overseas airlines that are flying higher. Late autumn Delta Airlines became the first airline to enable a booking and search engine into its Facebook page and in February American Airlines announced it was integrating its frequent-flier programme into both Facebook and Twitter. Others such as SouthWest Airlines have used Facebook to answer criticism after advertising flight attendant jobs and in February seven airlines in the US offered Facebook for free using their Wi-Fi networks. Even individuals are using social media to facilitate and enhance their flying experiences. Several people who have even used Twitter to receive flight upgrades.

The silence from UK airlines has been deafening. While EasyJet postured that it would be the first to allow check-ins on its Facebook page it was Delta who flew off with that particular prize and now a new initiative from Malaysia Airlines only underscores how UK airlines need to get (much) more social.
Rather like Delta Airlines and others that now allow booking through Facebook, Malaysia Airways’ MHBuddy system not only allows passengers to check-in and print out boarding passes, it also lets them search for other Facebook friends who may be on that flight. MHBuddy allows those who prefer their flying to be more sociable to send Facebook messages telling them of their flight plans and even lets them change their seats so they can sit together… without leaving the Facebook page.

Malaysia Airlines is not alone in using social media to extend its (non-carbon) footprint and this particular Facebook initiative is certainly innovative.
Last year a YouTube video from low-cost Philippine airline Cebu Pacific went viral after showing its flight attendants dancing to Katy Perry and Lady Gaga while demonstrating safety procedures. The video has now had more than 10 million views and given Cebu more publicity than it could ever have hoped to wish for.

This may be the most important channel for airlines when using social media to engage with their customers. Virgin Atlantic has begun to make noises about using YouTube in the future and this may be a short-haul approach that allows it to catch up with its overseas rivals.
Its main rival, British Airways is also testing the water and ‘is powering’ a kind-of-social-network called Metrotwin that twins London and New York by blogs and reader reviews and recommendations, thus ‘twinning’ locations in both cities. It may be some time before UK airlines completely embrace social media.
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