But Spirit is not the first airline to battle the Twitterverse. And beyond legitimate news of share price, key business decisions, flight delays, and special offers, social media hasn't always been kind to airlines. But will negative tweets translate into a loss for investors?
All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go
In June 2011, a video made on board a Delta
United breaks guitars, and loses face
In 2009, United Airlines' (now United Continental
A 10% drop sounds bad, but keep in mind the stock was trading at $3.34 at the time. It's now hovering around the $22 mark. If you had invested in United pre-merger, despite the broken guitars, you'd be singing a song of your own. Maybe you'd even post it to YouTube.
While apologizing for calling a blogger an idiot, Ryanair calls the blogger an idiot
In February 2009, an Irish blogger who thought he had found a way to book free tickets on Ryanair
Did it hurt? Not too much. Revenue increased from $384 million in March 2009 to $475 million in March 2011, and shares have risen strongly in the past three years.
The crazy uncle of airlines
While these incidents serve as a valuable reminder, Spirit would be best served to take a hard look at the airline industry's celebrity nightmare, JetBlue
JetBlue stock is currently trading at less than $5 a share, the company's debt is more than twice its revenue, and its Twitter feed is filled with apologies for flight delays and other customer complaints.
The Foolish bottom line
Ultimately, Twitter campaigns won't make or break any of these stocks. Done effectively, such campaigns may prompt an airline response to a particular problem, as it did this week when Spirit CEO Baldanza bowed to media pressure and agreed to refund the dying veteran's airfare, as well as make a contribution to Wounded Warriors in his name. Done ineffectively, tweets, posts, comments, and videos are merely a sounding board for those flying the not-always-friendly skies.
But before investing in an airline, it's a good idea to check its Twitter feed, just to get the pulse of overall customer satisfaction. Don't waste your time with Spirit, though: Its feed doesn't accept or respond to customer comments.