In-Flight Ads: Coming to a Seat-Back in Front of You

by  Suzanne Steinert | Nov 18, 2009
Plane / Biletskiy_Evgeniy/iStock

Publicized over intercoms by flight attendants, stuffed in seat-pocket magazines, painted on napkins, tray tables, and even barf bags . . . the recent barrage of on-board ads plugging products from Coca-Cola to credit cards has been difficult to ignore. As operating costs continue to rise, the money to be made in in-flight advertising (tens of millions of dollars a year) is tempting airlines as of late to offset expenses by plastering promotions into every available cabin cranny, transforming planes into virtual flying billboards. Flyers, feeling the creep, have criticized many of the in-flight blitzes for being too aggressive – cornering “captive customers” at cruising altitude when ad inundation is impossible to avoid.

Today, AirTran pledged to push the remaining frontier of in-flight advertising to seat-backs, while ensuring coverage is subtle, tasteful, and “unobtrusive.” Over the next few weeks, the airline will outfit all of its 138 jets with seat-back ads that offer not just sales pitches, but exclusive deals found nowhere else – like the chance to win a 7-night cruise onboard the Oasis of the Seas, the world’s newest and largest cruise ship – at least one cool campaign that we're willing to let fly.

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