Is Airline Advertising Out of Control?

The Consumerist: Depending on the airline you choose, everything from the exterior of your jet to the overhead compartments to your tray table and the back of your seat to your airplane safety video can be sponsored by an advertiser. And considering the amount of revenue being generated by these ads, they probably aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

Slapping ads on every available surface has mostly been something that budget carriers like Spirit and Ryanair do to make up for their discount airfares. But USA Today reports that a growing number of airlines are looking to tap into the money from advertisers looking to target in-flight audiences.

"Airlines need to be sustainably profitable to be able to invest in their people, their product and continue to serve markets," a spokesman for the Air Transport Association of America says. "As with other modes of transportation and other industries, including sports and entertainment, advertising revenue helps offset the high costs faced by the airline industry."

"Advertising helps us invest our funds into the product, so we get a better experience for the customer," explains a rep for JetBlue.

"I pay for a ticket to get from point A to point B safely," he says. "If they want to bombard me with advertising, then give me a discount."

An American Airlines marketing exec says advertisers provide its customers with special offers — free in-flight Wi-Fi or bonus frequent-flier miles — thus, the ads are "a win for everyone."

A rep for Southwest says the airline tries "not to hit customers with too many advertising messages... Our goal is to keep the messages travel-related and focused on Southwest products."

Meanwhile, one ad expert warns that, "The advertiser is immediately aligning itself with the airline brand — and that is not always advantageous... If the airline does not provide good service, has long delays, has a history of safety violations, charges for every single thing — these may be elements that another brand does not want to be associated with."


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