American Airlines is the most responsive of the major North American airlines on Twitter, while JetBlue responds the fastest, according to a report by Conversocial, a social media customer engagement platform.

Using its Twitter Tracker, Conversocial analyzed the Twitter activity from Oct. 5 to Oct. 8 for 10 North American airlines: American, Delta, Southwest, United, JetBlue, Alaska, Virgin America, Spirit, Air Canada and WestJet. Among those 10 carriers, the average response rate was 22.4%, while the average response time was 20 minutes and one second.

American's leading response rate was 32.5%. Delta was next at 31.3%, followed by Southwest, Virgin America and Spirit with response rates just under 27%. United, which faced a social media barrage last April after a passenger was injured and forcibly dragged off a United Express flight, had the lowest response rate at 14.3% during the study period. Conversely, United had the most Twitter mentions over those four days at nearly 100 per hour.

In terms of response time, JetBlue was fastest with an average response of 4 minutes and 50 seconds. Virgin America was close behind, averaging 4 minutes and 56 seconds. United was once again the lagger, averaging more than 90 minutes.

Conversocial also analyzed the responsiveness to Twitter mentions by 10 major airlines from the rest of the world. Overall, those carriers responded 28.1% of the time, which was more often than the North American carriers. But they were far slower, taking an average of one hour and 41 minutes when they did respond.

With an answer rate of 50.5%, Etihad was the most responsive of the airlines outside North America. Lufthansa led the way with an average response time of 9 minutes and 15 seconds.

Conversocial noted that airlines are increasingly aware of the importance of social media to customer service. Average responsiveness among the 20 airlines the company analyzed increased to 25.2% last year from 21% in 2016.

Conversocial also said that direct messaging is growing rapidly in importance as a customer communication channel. An analysis of three airlines showed that Facebook Messenger volume more than doubled over six months and Twitter direct messaging increased by more than 50%.

Messaging "is quickly becoming the default way that everyone communicates," the report says.

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