By this time tomorrow morning, I will be winging way to Portland for the fifth and final Explore conference, produced by Jason Falls, but you wouldn’t catch me in the air next week. Our turkey is already brining in anticipation of the Thanksgiving Holiday, and the last thing I want to do during the holidays is travel. However, so many of you will be taking off in pursuit of your own turkey, so this month’s first installment of the Brand Passion Index takes a look at airlines and what the social media world has to say about them. Check out the brands on the chart below:

In this graphic, the amount of chatter about a brand is indicated by the size of the bubble, while the placement of the bubble shows both the sentiment and passion intensity.

Southwest Airlines emerged as the buzz winner with 40% of the overall chatter, and generated the second highest Net Sentiment with a 64 and a Passion Intensity of 46, which as you can tell put it right around the middle of the chart. Back in the day, I was a frequent flier for all of the business travel I did, logging at least 250,000 miles a year…so the features most important to me in an airline were a bit different. As a 1k Global Status flier, I was treated like a queen and I have to admit, I used to refer to Southwest as “the bus” – it seemed totally disorganized and annoying. Now, as I board a plane with 4 small children, I can’t get enough of their accommodating features, like no assigned seats, no fees for changing your flight, etc. And from the verbatim I surfaced below with the NetBase Insight Composer, I can see that my fellow social media users love the customer service too:

Southwest Airlines has THE best customer service.

I love Southwest Airlines customer service!

Southwest Air’s lack of change fees makes them one of my favorite airlines.

I’ve always enjoyed Southwest primarily because of the lack of seat assignments.

But for frequent business travellers (especially commuters) on a budget, Southwest’s lack of change fees is ideal.

Virgin Airlines emerged as the most loved brand, with the highest Net Sentiment of 68 and one of the highest Passion Intensity scores of 61, though it generated only a fraction of the buzz. I would imagine that with this much passion, its buzz will grow like a snowball going downhill – and I have to say that the business side of me is intrigued at flying Virgin Airlines. Online consumers raved about everything from the Wi-Fi and the mood lighting to the in-flight entertainment. It seems like they are working on creating the same caliber of experience as Southwest, but emphasizing different creature comforts. And as a CMO, I need that Wi-Fi! Here’s what online consumers said:

Gotta love the mood lighting on Virgin America flights.

I love in-flight Internet on Virgin America.

On this flight…free wifi…live TV..and outlets to charge my phone…. I LOVE VIRGIN AMERICA!!!

I also love that Virgin America airplanes now have baby changing tables in the bathrooms!

I threw in that last one as a shout out to my fellow working moms :) So, what’s your airline of choice to take you turkey? Let me know in the comments – and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

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