Besides the price of a ticket, today airlines charge passengers for luggage, express check-in, priority seating, headphones, movies, extra legroom, internet service, pillows, blankets, not to mention food and alcohol. What used to be a pleasant experience has become, for many, drudgery. Except for a few “fun” airlines, such as Virgin America and Southwest, the experience – and fee structure is getting ridiculous. Talk about nickel and diming your passengers. Granted, airlines have a tough time these days, and have huge expenses for fuel, maintenance, parts, equipment and of course labor. But what’s next? The pay toilet idea was flushed but soon will they ask you to pay supplemental fees for clean air, inflated tires or on-time arrival? Come on, there is another way.
The time has come for the Airline Industry to look toward the multi billon dollar world of Automobile Racing. Instead of punishing your passengers, look for outside forms of revenue, like they do. Look at racing – have the many ads and logos covering every inch of car body and driver gear in any way affected performance? The answer is no and the public if fine with the presentation. Auto racing is extremely popular around the world.
Advertising all over the aircraft and on the uniforms of pilots, crew and ground personnel could raise millions of needed dollars. It makes perfect sense, and the economic gains will more than offset any sartorial ridicule. As long as aircraft display proper identification marks there is no FAA prohibition against this.
Will planes decaled with colorful Tide, Pepsi, Apple, EHarmony and Mont Blanc logos on the fuselage ruin the flying experience for passengers? No. And a big Pillsbury “Poppin Fresh” on a plane would be cute, don’t you think? As a frequent air traveler, I guarantee customers won’t mind one bit, especially when the free amenities return. I’d have no problem seeing the pilot wear a shirt festooned with Go Daddy stickers and a Mercedes-Benz logo on the pocket while enjoying a decent complimentary meal, pillow and glass of Pinot Noir. Customers would not mind seeing a flight attendant smartly dressed with sporty Macy’s, Discover Card and McDonald’s apparel describing the free Wi-Fi and latest onboard films. What would be the harm? Our commercial society is three quarters of the way there already, so I say, climb aboard airline industry, the sky is the limit.
Keep it fun and keep the amenities free and your customers will love you. Trust me; no one will object when the preflight safety briefing concludes with, “This safety announcement was brought to you by Allstate. You’re in good hands.” Airlines, your future is waiting.
c. Bob Ecker 2015
Bob Ecker is a travel writer based in Napa, California