US Airlines Ranked by Twitter Sentiment

Last updated on 09/26/2019

The ways we vent our frustration as customers are changing. We know the commercial power social media has and Twitter is an extensive resource of customer opinions and satisfaction. Thanks to social media listening tools, this data is available at the touch of our fingertips.

Using sentiment analysis, which uses artificial intelligence to detect the emotional tone of tweets, we discovered which airlines received the most negative mentions. We monitored over 96,000 tweets mentioning the 9 largest US airlines over a 2-week period. It is important to note that any tweet detected as “neutral” was discounted and not included in the analysis.

US Airline Twitter Sentiment Analysis

  • Positive
  • Negative
Negative Mentions
% Negative
Positive Mentions
% Positive
American Airlines
12,861
55.8%
10,178
44.2%
Delta Air Lines
11,669
48.7%
12,278
51.3%
United Airlines
7,702
49.5%
7,869
50.5%
Southwest Airlines
4,279
30.1%
9,948
69.9%
JetBlue Airways
3,484
49.5%
3,662
50.5%
Spirit Airlines
3,474
69.0%
1,561
31.0%
Alaska Airlines
1,679
37.9%
2,807
62.1%
Frontier Airlines
1,087
63.7%
620
36.3%
Allegiant Air
344
35.6%
621
64.4%

Southwest Airlines came out on top with 69.9% of their mentions being positive, closely followed by Allegiant Air with 64.40%, Spirit Airlines worryingly received over 69% negative mentions.

We wanted to find out exactly what was causing these negative mentions for each airline. For our research we targeted stereotypical complaints put forth by customers including delays, cancellations, poor customer service, lost luggage, uncomfortable seats and bad food. This gave us an idea of what bad experiences could be expected by each airline and what each airline needs to consider a priority concern.

The Percentage of Negative Mentions That Feature the Following Words:

  • Delay
  • Cancel
  • Customer Service
  • Luggage
  • Money
  • Seats
  • Food
Delay
Cancel
Customer Service
Luggage
Money
Seats
Food
United Airlines
23.58%
11.15%
6.95%
2.39%
2.23%
1.81%
0.14%
JetBlue Airways
23.00%
7.23%
4.36%
1.43%
1.90%
1.84%
1.29%
Allegiant Air
20.59%
6.18%
6.76%
1.47%
2.96%
0.89%
1.48%
Delta Air Lines
19.45%
9.30%
5.96%
2.01%
0.82%
1.43%
1.26%
Frontier Airlines
19.38%
13.09%
8.86%
2.31%
2.05%
1.28%
0.90%
Spirit Airlines
16.69%
18.50%
7.11%
2.05%
3.52%
0.85%
0.89%
Alaska Airlines
16.18%
8.24%
4.62%
2.61%
1.31%
2.41%
1.81%
Southwest Airlines
15.84%
10.63%
4.50%
2.30%
15.98%
15.68%
3.25%
American Airlines
14.15%
9.94%
6.73%
2.07%
3.38%
2.53%
0.62%

United Airlines had the highest proportion of negative tweets (23.58%) that related to delays, while 11.15% were about cancellations, a combined total of 34.73% for these two categories.

While every airline experiences delays and cancellations due to factors out of their control, it seems United Airlines and Spirit Airlines are particularly substandard in the way they handle customers in these situations.

Interestingly, Southwest Airlines (who received the least negative mentions overall) see their biggest complaint is about money, while the rest of the airlines have limited complaints about this. Furthermore, Southwest Airlines received the highest proportion of negative mentions for keywords regarding seating (15.7%), which may be due to their policy on not assigning seats.

To conclude, while we cannot infer that this means one airline has more issues than another, it certainly gives us an idea of what each airline struggles with the most.

By understanding what each airline struggles with we can manage our own expectations of each airline. If you are looking to prioritize customer service for example, it is logical to expect Frontier Airlines may struggle with providing quality customer service, but it is likely their seating is comfortable, and food is satisfactory. Knowing this prior to flying with Frontier will likely improve the overall experience as there is little to no expectation of quality customer care. Alternatively, if you are looking to experience high quality care it would be wise to avoid this airline entirely.

Overall if you are looking for a hassle-free experience, Southwest Airlines are the most likely to bring you this based on social media reaction. On the other hand, flying with Spirit Airlines may lead to a negative experience in some form.

*Data collected from Brand24