Spirit Airlines robot responds to questions on social media

Southwest Airlines and others employ humans to respond to questions on Twitter

Most major airlines now employ a team of workers to respond to passenger complaints and questions that appear on social media sites such as Twitter.

For example, a Southwest Airlines passenger complained on Twitter last week that his suitcase was burned and his sunglasses that were inside the bag were crushed.

Within 12 minutes, a Southwest employee responded with a Tweet: “Oh, no! Did you file a bag report at the airport, Ryan? Please [direct mail] us with further details so we can follow up with you.”

Florida-based Spirit Airlines, the ultra-low-cost carrier, is taking a different tack. Spirit has instead put a robot in control of its Twitter operation to automatically respond to questions.

“A big social media team costs money, so we put our feed on autopilot to save you cents on every ticket,” the airline explains on its Twitter site.

Does it work? Here’s an example of a Twitter exchange between a passenger and the Spirit Autopilot:

“Hey @SpiritAirlines thanks for canceling my 9 am flight & refusing to help me. Now I arrive at Detroit at 5 am tomorrow. Fix this,” a passenger posted last week.

The autopilot responded: “You can contact us here,” followed by links to websites with phone numbers and a list of the most commonly asked questions.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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