Social media, in all of its various forms, has shaken up most industries.
However, it seems one that has been particularly affected is aviation.
In the last 18 months or so, several airlines have found themselves waist-deep in PR nightmares as passengers are now able to record any unsavoury inflight activity.
Stories have varied from the more mundane; such as when a British Airways passenger was unable to board a flight as he was wearing too many clothes and live-tweeted the entire event, to the incredibly serious, when a man was dragged off a United flight.
The latter caused a global meltdown, with footage of the event hitting news sites worldwide less than five hours after it had taken place.
The ramifications were serious as well, with United having to publicly apologise and the victim was left with a broken nose and several fractures.
While the event was not a common occurrence prior to social media, platforms like Twitter and Facebook definitely exacerbated it.
So how are major airlines adopting social media to their benefit and how has it affected everyday practices?
Speaking to Travel Weekly, a Qantas spokesperson said the company has utilised the mechanism to their advantage.
“We’ve had a very strong online and social presence for quite a few years now,” they said.
“We use social media channels to engage with our customers and to help resolve problems or issues as they arrive.”
“It’s also a very effective channel for getting messages to passengers in the event of a major disruptions as well.”
This highlights the major contention with social media for airlines; it is both a friend and a foe.
Qantas’ strong social media presence over the last few years has undoubtedly sent consumer adoration for the airline to new heights.
Qantas’ unwavering support for the LGBTQI community has not gone unnoticed by the public, with the airline continuously posting heart-warming Tweets such as this:
— Qantas (@Qantas) December 7, 2017
Here at Qantas, we are proud to support Australian Marriage Equality ?️??️??️? pic.twitter.com/JtyZ3csicH
— Qantas (@Qantas) November 14, 2017
Clearly, Qantas has established a strong media presence and has harnessed the power of social media rather than falling victim to it.
The fear, of course, is also that airline crew will be captured mishandling a situation with a passenger.
When speaking to TW in relation to onboard incidents and how the crew deals with them, the spokesperson said the airline crew are specially trained to deal with clashes.
“Our cabin crew are trained to handle all manner of situations onboard.”
“We will always try to find a solution before any issue escalates.”
“But anti-social behaviour or situations involving the safety and security of our staff and customers will not be tolerated,” the spoeksperson added.