Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Turkish Airlines' Online Crisis Response

I was deeply saddened to read today's news. A Turkish Airline flight crashed near the Amsterdam airport. Nine people, including the pilots, died and 50 people are wounded. The aircraft's photos show the vehicle literally divided into several pieces. It is amazing that anyone came out alive. Turkish Airlines brings me home to Istanbul twice a year. I witness first-hand what a top-notch crew it has. They are courteous, responsive and able. The seasoned pilots, like the one who was flying passengers to Amsterdam, usually have an army background. Not to make light of the topic, but I have been more shaken by NY cabs than by landings to the Istanbul Airport. They're that good.

Turkish Airlines' online response to this unfortunate event deserves a nod of approval. When I read the news this morning on one of the leading national papers Milliyet, the news report was followed by a candid blog entry by a pilot who is the head of the Aviation Association. He was urging readers who were commenting on the incident not to speculate and wait to hear the facts from the investigation.

I turned to the company's Web site and found that they had already pushed up their dark site in multiple languages. Here are clips from their homepage and crisis section. You'll see that the dark site is complemented by a hotline and has sections pertaining to the flight, the accident and passenger list. Information is up to date.

Turkish Airlines is not on Twitter, but its Facebook fans are doing the talking. The airline's employees have set up numerous fan pages and groups on the social networking site. You can recognize them from the icons they carry on their profiles: the airline logo with a black ribbon.

It is hard to talk about online reputation when people have lost their lives as a result of an accident. It will be interesting to watch the online crowds' reactions as we hear more details about what happened exactly.

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