Buzz scores for United Airlines, American Airlines and US Airways lost altitude in the wake of the recent ‘Snowmaggedon’ to hit the United States. However, according to recent BrandIndex data, the snowy weather did not cause lasting damage to US airline brands.
The Delta/Northwest merger held up significantly better than United/Continental in December, as Northwest registered the only significant lift in Buzz scores during the blizzards that swept through the US. Southwest Airlines, a perennial Buzz and overall perception leader in the airline sector, was also able to shelter itself from negative ratings. Similarly, despite a slight dip in Buzz, JetBlue’s scores remained firmly positive heading into the new year.
Ted Marzilli, senior vice president and global managing director of BrandIndex, commented on the findings, noting that the airline’s Buzz scores are mostly collateral damage at this point: “People are just taking out their frustrations somewhere. You’re going to blame the airline that’s not getting you from point a to point b.”
While United Airline’s 16 point drop in Buzz during the last week is significant, it’s nowhere near the severe drop in scores experienced by Southwest Airlines in February 2008, when the carrier continued flying Boeing 737s that it had said it had grounded because they hadn’t been properly inspected for fuselage cracks. The incident prompted Southwest’s Buzz score to drop from +75 to -40 in a week. Consequently, it took the airline about six months to recover. In stark contrast, most of the airlines affected by the recent US snowstorms are likely to recover much quicker.