US Airways Sacks Advertisers with New Ad Space

You might have seen the name of airlines on airsickness bags on flights before, but US Airways is now considering selling advertising on them. The airline has begun negotiating with its first advertisers and the new bags with advertisements are due to be introduced in September, according to the Associated Press.

“September 11 is what pushed us over the edge – in the ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’ category,” Travis Christ, US Airways’ vice president for sales and marketing, told the Miami Herald. The pioneering effort is expected to bring in more than $10 million for the financially struggling airline.

US Airways already advertises on its tray tables and napkins. The Associated Press reports that America West was the first in the industry to sell advertising on tray tables and offer airline gift cards and in-flight meals for sale. America West merged with US Airways last year.

Christ went on to say that America West was initially cautious that passengers would be offended with onboard advertising but, “People are pretty understanding that we have to take steps to improve our finances,” according to the Miami Herald.

US Airways’ napkins sport ads for P.F. Chang’s and their tray tables sport advertisements for The Bank of America, Mercedes-Benz, Verizon, as well as a video inviting you to fun tourist destinations like Jamaica, according to the Miami Herald. Low-cost European carriers have used onboard advertising extensively until now.

US Airways spokesman Phil Gee told the Associated Press, “They’re in every back seat pocket. We figure while it's there, why don’t we make it multipurpose?” Chiming in was 19-year old student Nathan Vierra, “I would honestly pay no attention to an ad if I got sick, but hey, if skateboarders can sell ad space on their t-shirts, I guess why can’t an airline sell ads on barf bags?”

Other revenue generating ideas are already in use. Air Canada charges for pillows and blankets in Economy class on their North American flights, according to the Associated Press. The Miami Herald reports that the inflatable pillow and blanket packs started selling for $2 in November 2005.

Earning more money is the name of the game, but Michael Boyd, president of the Boyd Group, told the Associated Press, “Some people don’t want the inside of their cabins to look like subway cars and the jury isn’t in on advertising on tray tables as a decent way to boost revenue.” The Boyd Group is a Colorado-based aviation-consulting group.

Webster O’Brien, vice president at the Boston-based SH&E aviation consulting group, told the Miami Herald, “In an industry where the margins are as thin as they are and the competition is as tough as it is, the carriers get more and more aggressive in looking for ways to increase revenue –- particularly if it is in manners that don’t directly impact the passenger experience.”

Other airlines, such as American, are working with onboard advertising. American Airlines spokeswoman said, “Now there is a structure in place where we are out there looking for these types of opportunities – looking for the nontraditional advertising, like cups, napkins, ticket jackets.” She continued in the Miami Herald, “It was established as a special project, and it has grown to be an important and growing source of revenue.”

US Airways is ultimately seeking a wide range of advertisements to be placed on the bags, “But having an advertisement for a barf bag, especially for something like Dramamine, now that’s brilliant,” according to US Airways spokesman Phil Gee.

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