When Delta Air Lines (Stock Quote: DAL) announced last month it would begin offering customers the ability to book flights directly from its Facebook page, it felt less like a revolution and more like the logical conclusion of an industry trend.
Many airlines' Facebook pages have tens of thousands of fans, and they predictably take advantage of this opportunity for unfettered communication with potential consumers, making their pages into vehicles for everything from press releases to travel deals.
In fact, there are plenty of reasons to “Like” your favorite airline.
- Special travel deals are usually posted to the page as soon as they go live. For instance, fans of Virgin America got wind of the airline’s Fall Travel Sale from its news feed (though they'll have to book by the end of the day today to get such fares as Boston to Los Angeles one-way for $119).
- Others give fans the opportunity to win free tickets. United (Stock Quote: UAUA), for instance, automatically enters you to win two round-trip tickets just for clicking “Like,” while Continental (Stock Quote: CAL) links to a Twitter contest that gives you a pair of international tickets if you can guess how many tennis balls it would take to fill a Boeing 777.
- Most airlines have a presence on multiple social networking platforms. JetBlue frequently posts its “cheep deals” on Twitter @jetbluecheeps and on its Facebook page. Check back Sept. 14 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. for its next round of “cheeps.”
- It's not just airlines offering great travel deals. Many Best Western hotels offer deals for those in the Facebook loop. Just enter FB100 when you book online to see if the hotel is participating.
Delta's Facebook ticket window could signal a shift in which airlines' Facebook pages become more than just a source for news and deals, however. American Airlines' page already features a tool for determining whether your flight will have on-board Wi-Fi, while Continental's provides an application that allows travelers to share tips and travel advice. As these Facebook pages become more sophisticated and offer more comprehensive tools for travelers, it's not hard to imagine them becoming one-stop shops that turn the airlines' official websites into mere formalities.