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Five Best Airline Insta-Photos Of 2017

We used our GumGum Social Tool to find logos of airlines and their corresponding most popular social moment.

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Last year was pretty good for the commercial aviation industry. Profits were up, accidents were down and 2017 was the safest year on record. Still, the most indelible image for airlines in 2017 is of Dr. David Dao being dragged literally kicking and screaming off United Express Flight 3411 last April. The power of images can make or break a brand, and airlines are more susceptible than most to angry customers seeking satisfaction on social media. But smart airlines can use images in a positive way to boost their reputation and engage more deeply with customers. We used our GumGum Social Tool to find logos of airlines and their corresponding most popular social moment. Here’s how five of those airlines used social images to its advantage last year:

1.) First in its class

Few of us will be lucky enough to fly first class to Dubai, so Emirates' Instagram account may be the next best thing. Last November, the UAE airline offered its 2.8 million followers a video tour of the world's first fully enclosed first-class cabins on its brand new Boeing 777. Each of the six 40-square-foot private cabins features zero gravity seats and "virtual windows"—high-resolution displays that provide a birds-eye view of the flight to passengers without an actual window seat. Is this any way to fly? You bet it is. The takeaway: Photos can be aspirational as well as inspirational. Letting passengers peek behind the curtain makes flying Emirates an elite experience, even in couch.

Few of us will be lucky enough to fly first class to Dubai, so Emirates' Instagram account may be the next best thing. Last November, the UAE airline offered its 2.8 million followers a video tour of the world's first fully enclosed first-class cabins on its brand new Boeing 777. Each of the six 40-square-foot private cabins features zero gravity seats and "virtual windows"—high-resolution displays that provide a birds-eye view of the flight to passengers without an actual window seat. Is this any way to fly? You bet it is. The takeaway: Photos can be aspirational as well as inspirational. Letting passengers peek behind the curtain makes flying Emirates an elite experience, even in couch.

2.) Turkish delight

Eser Aksan Ergodan, a pilot for Turkey's Pegasus Airlines, blends the personal and professional adroitly in her Instagram feed (@echosierra85). The comely 31-year-old mixes cockpit photos and whimsical shots of her posing inside the turbine of her 737 with videos of her boxing workouts and travels to Bali and South Africa with her husband Volkan, also a pilot. Ergodan's glamorous photo stream has earned her nearly 100,000 followers, as well as media coverage. The takeaway: Including personal images can help brands build a stronger human connection with customers.

Eser Aksan Ergodan, a pilot for Turkey's Pegasus Airlines, blends the personal and professional adroitly in her Instagram feed (@echosierra85). The comely 31-year-old mixes cockpit photos and whimsical shots of her posing inside the turbine of her 737 with videos of her boxing workouts and travels to Bali and South Africa with her husband Volkan, also a pilot. Ergodan's glamorous photo stream has earned her nearly 100,000 followers, as well as media coverage. The takeaway: Including personal images can help brands build a stronger human connection with customers.

3.) Delta's Dating Wall

Few things make you more attractive to the opposite sex than being seen as a world traveler, says a "Singles in America" survey conducted by Match.com last March. Seeing a red-hot marketing opportunity, Delta Airlines partnered with Tinder to creating a 'dating wall' in Brooklyn featuring images of nine world cities where the airline flies. Delta also hired a professional photographer to take pictures of singles posing in front of London, Paris, Amsterdam, etc, which they could upload to their Tinder, Twitter or Instagram profiles. The takeaway: Even playful images like these carry a powerful subliminal message: Delta flies to more international destinations than other airlines. The takeaway: Even playful images like these carry a powerful subliminal message: Delta flies to more international destinations than other airlines.

Few things make you more attractive to the opposite sex than being seen as a world traveler, says a "Singles in America" survey conducted by Match.com last March. Seeing a red-hot marketing opportunity, Delta Airlines partnered with Tinder to creating a 'dating wall' in Brooklyn featuring images of nine world cities where the airline flies. Delta also hired a professional photographer to take pictures of singles posing in front of London, Paris, Amsterdam, etc, which they could upload to their Tinder, Twitter or Instagram profiles. The takeaway: Even playful images like these carry a powerful subliminal message: Delta flies to more international destinations than other airlines. The takeaway: Even playful images like these carry a powerful subliminal message: Delta flies to more international destinations than other airlines.

4.) Darkness and light

It isn't every day that the sun takes a mini-vacation. But last August 21, a total eclipse of the sun swept across the continental US. Alaska Airlines marked the occasion with a special invitation-only flight, offering select passengers—and two lucky contest winners—a cloud-free view of the event from 35,000 feet. If you missed being in the path of totality last summer, you can experience a video as it happened on Alaska Airline's site. The takeaway: Rare events offer brands a unique opportunity to leave their mark—as well as capture the images for posterity.

It isn't every day that the sun takes a mini-vacation. But last August 21, a total eclipse of the sun swept across the continental US. Alaska Airlines marked the occasion with a special invitation-only flight, offering select passengers—and two lucky contest winners—a cloud-free view of the event from 35,000 feet. If you missed being in the path of totality last summer, you can experience a video as it happened on Alaska Airline's site. The takeaway: Rare events offer brands a unique opportunity to leave their mark—as well as capture the images for posterity.

5.) HEL is for heroes

Helsinki-Vantaa (HEL) has been rated the best airport in the world. But could you live there for a month? Last October, airport operator Finavia hired Chinese TV star Ryan Zhu to live for 30 days in a small wooden cabin in terminal 2 and complete a series of tasks, which were filmed, posted to a dedicated website and shared on social media. Finavia asked Zhu to rate the airport (he gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars) and suggest improvements (more Chinese restaurants) that will be implemented in HEL's $E900 million renovation project. All told, the #LifeInHEL campaign reached an estimated 2.2 billion people and generated more than 10 million video views. The takeaway: Finavia didn't know how the experiment would turn out or how social media users would react to it. Sometimes you need to take a risk.

Helsinki-Vantaa (HEL) has been rated the best airport in the world. But could you live there for a month? Last October, airport operator Finavia hired Chinese TV star Ryan Zhu to live for 30 days in a small wooden cabin in terminal 2 and complete a series of tasks, which were filmed, posted to a dedicated website and shared on social media. Finavia asked Zhu to rate the airport (he gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars) and suggest improvements (more Chinese restaurants) that will be implemented in HEL's $E900 million renovation project. All told, the #LifeInHEL campaign reached an estimated 2.2 billion people and generated more than 10 million video views. The takeaway: Finavia didn't know how the experiment would turn out or how social media users would react to it. Sometimes you need to take a risk.

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