Asiana Flight 214 crash in SFO - Crises Management Case Study and Analysis


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Asiana Airlines flight 214 crashed upon landing at San Francisco International Airport on June 6, 2013. Here is an analysis of the incident from a crises communications perspective, in the age of social media and the connected traveller.

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Asiana Flight 214 crash in SFO - Crises Management Case Study and Analysis

  1. We Believe in Thinking Differently about Aviation Marketing Crises Management 2.0 Asiana Airlines Flight OZ214 in SFO Case study & Analysis Find us on: Twitter Facebook Linkedin
  2. 11:27am: Plane makes impact at SFO 11.28am: – First photo from a Google employee boarding another flight hits Twitter (within 30 secs!) 11.30am: Emergency slides deployed 11.45am: First photo from a passenger posted on Path, Facebook and Twitter 11.56am: Norwegian journalists asks for permission to use photo from first posters. Tons of other requests follow 1.20pm: Boeing issues statement via Twitter 2.04pm: SFO Fire Department speaks to the press 3.00pm: NTSB holds press conference, and keeps updating Twitter with photos 3.39pm: Asiana Airlines statement released 3.40pm: White House releases statement 8.43pm: First Asiana Press release (6.43am Korea time) Timeline of Events – 6 July 2013
  3. Source: AFP, @JohnSaeki,
  4. We Believe in Thinking Differently about Aviation Marketing Asiana Flight 214 Crash: Social Media bursts with Live updates from passengers and others at SFO Learn more about our in-house Crises Management MasterClass
  5. Read full account: media-broke-the-story-of-the-sfo-plane-crash/ The first tweet, posted within 30 seconds of impact Krista Seiden, a Google employee, was boarding another flight when the Asiana aircraft hit the runway. She had her mobile phone in her hand, and her first instinct was to snap a photo and tweet it out. All within seconds of impact.
  6. Journalists scamper to interview Krista over Twitter
  7. Within 24hrs, Krista and her photo were quoted in over 4,450 news articles (Source: Google News)
  8. First photo from a passenger hits Twitter, via Path David Eun, a Samsung executive was the first passenger to post a photo of the burning wreckage, 18 mins after the crash.
  9. Given the large number of passengers from mainland China, it was inevitable that there would be posts made on leading networks there, like Weibo, QQ and Xiaonei. One of the passengers constantly updated his status. First Photos posted on Weibo by a Chinese passenger
  10. Ironically, he was the one who was seen running with his carry-on bag, in the first photo taken by David. He says he did not want to lose his passport. He justifies his decision to run with his carry-on bag
  11. A number of passengers at and around the airport start connecting over Twitter hashtags and conversations ensue. Here is a very interesting thread: 353663158826713088 Other passengers at SFO start interactions
  12. 52997724435177 Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg made a post that went viral
  13. We Believe in Thinking Differently about Aviation Marketing Asiana Flight 214 Crash: Journalists, NTSB, SFO and other airlines provide Constant Updates Learn more about our in-house Crises Management MasterClass
  14. 52997724435177 Influential journalists provided constant updates on Twitter and Facebook
  15. Boeing updates its website front page and Twitter
  16. Airlines that fly to SFO update their Twitter status
  17. The NTSB Provides regular updates via Twitter One organisation that did a good job with updates was the National Transport Safety Board in the US. They constantly updated their Twitter account, even on a Sunday, as soon as more information was obtained by those on the scene, culminating in a press conference.
  18. Constant stream of photos from the NTSB Click here to view more photos from NTSB The NTSB also were the first to become the official source of close- up photos from the tarmac, which were all released through Twitter.
  19. San Francisco Airport switches to crises mode SFO starts updating Twitter and Facebook constantly with the latest on the situation. The airport makes good use of hashtags, and tries to reply to individual passengers as much as possible.
  20. San Francisco Airport switches to crises mode The airport’s Twitter account also regularly re-tweets other authorities, like the NTSB, and airlines updating passengers about the situation. This allows them to address the concerns of a large number of travellers, who often had similar questions about flight operations and delays.
  21. We Believe in Thinking Differently about Aviation Marketing Asiana Flight 214 Crash: Asiana finally responds… Learn more about our in-house Crises Management MasterClass
  22. Press Release posted on Twitter and G+ Asiana Airlines finally updates Facebook and Twitter, with an initial statement that thanks people for their concern and support. A press release is posted 8 hours after the crash.
  23. No status updates prior to the statement Unfortunately, for six hours prior to the airline making a statement, most of their messages online seem incongruent. And this gets noticed by the press and others too…
  24. Silence speaks louder than words
  25. Meanwhile, Facebook fan numbers for the airline shoot up dramatically Certainly, concerned family members, travellers and the public flocked to Asiana’s Facebook page to look for information, but were disappointed for the first six hours.
  26. The first update from Asiana on Facebook about the crash was its second most shared post this year. Ironically, it was also their most “liked” post till date as well. Source: Unmetric The airline’s first Facebook update was a big hit
  27. Twitter followers grow dramatically as well Most journalists and news editors, along with others interested in the news were expecting more regular updates from Asiana Airlines
  28. Not replying? It seems that Asiana didn't capitalize on Twitter's reach and didn't tweet any more than usual over the weekend to keep people updated of the situation. Moreover, they did not reply at all to tweets during the period of crises. Not at all.
  29. Asiana’s stock price dips 6.2% in a day The crash, followed by a delayed response, and then preliminary investigations pointing to potential pilot error culminated in a dramatic slide in the airline’s stock price.
  30. We Believe in Thinking Differently about Aviation Marketing Asiana Flight 214 Crash: Lessons in Crises Communications Learn more about our in-house Crises Management MasterClass
  31. What’s your 20 second PR strategy? In the age of the connected traveller, airlines do not have 20 minutes, but rather 20 seconds to respond to a crisis situation. Asiana Airlines clearly was not ready for this situation that ensued online. But each airline and airport needs to build social media into its standard operating procedures for crises management.
  32. The accidental spokesperson may not always be right While Krista Seiden happened to be at the right place at he right time, not all her information was accurate. For example, the flight did not arrive from Taipei. Soon after, some journalists mis- interpreted that 60 un-accounted for passengers were actually fatalities. If Asiana was participating online, it could have corrected these facts.
  33. Where do your customers talk about you? If most of the passengers on the plane were Chinese and Korean, it was a matter of time before the news was posted on mainstream social channels in their home countries, like Weibo and WeChat. A professional crises communications team must speak to customer where they “reside online, and address their concerns using the same media.
  34. It appears from the incidence that Asiana Airlines has not invested in any kind of social media crises or customer support strategy. They have banned people from posting on their Facebook wall. On Twitter, they reply to a handful of very positive tweets, but don't answer any client questions. And all this backfires when there is a crisis situation. Had they planned ahead, engaged passengers and journalists online and set the facts right, the damage to the brand could have been reduced. But now, it cannot be undone. Don’t start digging the well, when you’re thirsty Learn more about our in-house Crises Management MasterClass
  35. We Believe in Thinking Differently about Aviation Marketing Asiana Flight 214 Crash: Crises Management 2.0 – How to prepare for the next crises? Learn more about our in-house Crises Management MasterClass
  36. Download full infographic here
  37. American Airlines Flight 24 Download full infographic here
  38. 1. Top 10 aviation crises management case studies 2. Aviation Crises Management infographic 3. Royal Brunei Airlines emergency landing case study 4. Over 50 of SimpliFlying’s crises management updates and articles 5. SimpliFlying in-house Crises Management MasterClass More crises management resources….
  39. SimpliFlying has worked with over 35 airlines and airports globally on customer engagement strategy. If you’re keen to ensure that your crises management strategy remains relevant, get in touch to learn more about our consulting and training services.