Advertising Each Flight Like the Superbowl

Professional Sports is an Excellent Marketing Model for the Airlines

It is exceptionally difficult not to become furious–downright livid–with the state of the airline industry. As if the incessant prodding by Homeland Security weren’t enough, the advent of online booking began obscuring the actual price of flight tickets (How much will the taxes be? How about the booking fee?). Then, we came upon the reality that even the final price we paid for the ticket wasn’t the actual cost of the flight because airlines first started charging for meals that used to be included in the price of the ticket and then they started charging for hauling our baggage, which also used to be included in the price of the ticket. Even worse, the luggage fee is subject to change, and it varies from airline to airline. Consequently, the final cost of the flight remains a mystery until we check in our baggage.

If the trend continues, Airlines will soon charge for oxygen during the flight, but more civil alternatives that might quell the passengers’ thirst for the Airlines’ jugulars exist. Airlines can take a hint from professional sports and have sponsorship for every event that happens during the course of a flight.

Just as NFL kickoffs are typically “brought to you by the new Buick LeSabre”, the highly anticipated pushback from the gate could be “brought to you by AIG insurance: isn’t now a good time to buy some life insurance? We’re begging you!” The takeoff can be sponsored by “Red Bull: it gives you wings”, or by “Viagra: your turn to take off, baby”, or by “Cialis: nothing can stop you from joining the mile high club”. Dinner can be sponsored by McDonalds or Subway. Long smooth stretches of sky can be sponsored by Smirnoff Vodka or Jack Daniels, and heavy turbulence can be sponsored by “Valium: you need one. Don’t deny it.” The oxygen in the cabin could be sponsored by “Microsoft: without Microsoft, you’d be dead. Don’t you forget that”. Landings, those so happy endings to long flights, could be sponsored by Victoria’s secret, or Trojan condoms, and that blissful moment at which we are allowed to be again shackled by our mobile phones can be sponsored by Verizon. Or Stayfree maxipads.

Airlines can take another cue from professional car racing and put all sorts of logos on the giant fuselages of their planes. Oh, look, it’s the Home Depot plane taking off. Kids can be heard screaming “I wanna fly the Cocoa Puffs plane, please!” And, flight attendants’ uniforms will naturally be covered from head to toe with patches from a thousand different sponsors, from STP to Chilli’s.

Although the net result might be that sponsors will end up prolonging flights the way they prolong football games just to cram a few more commercials down our throats (“We’re making an extra turn in Chicago to show you the Willis Tower. It’s no longer the Sears tower, damn it!”), perhaps we might again be afforded the sanity of knowing one simple fact about our flight: how much it costs!

PS If you got other sponsorship ideas for the airlines, share them in the comments below. PNM

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