Best and Worst of 2011 Airline Commercials
Ah, the joys of airline travel.
From the hassles of security checkpoints in the airports to incompetent workers to the excessive fees for checked luggage, traveling by air these days can be a royal pain in the ass.
I’ve loved aviation since my early youth. Boarding an aircraft and experiencing the thrills from takeoff to landing still entertain me, despite all of the changes that have effected the industry over the past ten years. Back in high school I earned my private pilot’s license and completed most of my instrument training. Alas, the high costs of training and some minor medical issues have kept me out of the cockpit, but that love of aviation is still there.
So when it comes to choosing an airline and taking a commercial flight, whether it’s for business or pleasure, what characteristics do you look for in an airline? Is price the main consideration? Is luxury and personal attention more important? Is a major carrier with more flights better than a regional airline that may operate from a smaller airport closer to your home or destination?
More importantly, when seeing TV commercials for airlines, do they really inspire you to consider them for your next flight?
Let’s take a look at some of 2011′s best and worst airline TV commercials and see how well they sell themselves to us, the general public.
British Airways — To Fly. To Serve.
Right off the bat this is my favorite airline commercial.
This ninety second commercial takes us through a brief aviation history of the company, showing us everything from classic propeller-driven aircraft to modern day airliners and even the legendary Concorde. The pleasant voice talking about the company reminds us that the pilots are there to serve us, the customers. It doesn’t need to use gimmicks or characters to sell the product.
Having never flown British Airways (or most of the airlines presented here), this commercial gives me the reassurance that they take the business seriously, from the workers at the counter to the flight attendants to the pilots themselves. By showing the company’s aircraft history, we also get a glimpse of the golden age of aviation and how the company has supposedly maintained that pride into modern times.
Korean Air — Excellence in Flight
On the other side of the world we have Korean Air, presented in this TV commercial that I’ve seen many times here in the southeastern U.S.
This commercial has first-class service written all over it. The music is soothing, you see clean, elegant environments inside of the aircraft, and the slender female flight attendants look like supermodels. This commercial appeals to those people who prefer comfort and luxury when making those long flights across the Pacific Ocean. Remember the word here — excellence.
Delta Air Lines — Keep Climbing
This Delta Air Lines commercial almost seems like the company is trying to be sympathetic with its customers during these tough economic times. Having the world’s largest airline talking about “going into the wind” and challenging yourself just doesn’t quite sound right. I can see a regional airline talking about pushing itself, but Delta? Really?
When talking about the world’s largest airline, having a black and white commercial with some guy talking in a depressing style of voice is just wrong. Come on! This is %#&$ing Delta! They’re the biggest airline in the world. They fly pretty much everywhere. Don’t make these so-called motivational commercials that only motivate me to jump off a building.
Come on, Delta! You guys could do a LOT better than that when it comes to making catchy commercials.
American Airlines commercial with Kevin Spacey
Up next we have Kevin Spacey starring in a commercial for American Airlines. In this commercial the actor plays three roles along with himself in an attempt to tell us how American Airlines treats you as an individual, and not just a statistic.
Ummm, yeah. Here we have a Hollywood hotshot sitting in first class and telling us that the airline treats you like an individual. Well, I certainly hope that they treat you properly when sitting in first class. How about the majority of passengers who are crammed into coach?
American Airlines — After School
This American Airlines commercial seems innocent enough as we see a mom talking to her daughter. At the end of the commercial we discover that the mom is actually chatting via text chat program on her trendy Mac laptop and using the Wi-Fi connection available on her American Airlines flight.
Okay, so I should fly on American Airlines because they offer Wi-Fi and allow me to “be myself,” right? That’s hardly what I would refer to as a selling point since many airlines try to focus on having good customer service, and other carriers also offer Wi-Fi.
Is the Wi-Fi free of charge? If so, make a point of telling us. These days with everything under the sun being treated like an add-on fee, if airlines do offer freebies such as free Wi-Fi, free checked luggage, free changing of flight plans, etc., then the commercial should probably LET THE CUSTOMER KNOW ABOUT IT.
Come on, American Airlines! I know you can find better selling points than that! Bring back those comforting commercials from the 1980s that made us love you as an airline!
American Airlines — New Fleet
I don’t know if this is an actual TV commercial or just something passed around in the aviation industry, but this segment is much better than the previous two TV commercials for American Airlines.
Instead of focusing on Hollywood actors traveling in first class, or a trendy mom who can chat with her Mac laptop while flying, this commercial is all about an optimistic future. The company is proudly showing off its massive purchase order for a fleet of new Boeing and Airbus aircraft. It’s telling us that it is so confident that you’ll enjoy flying with them that they’re already doing a massive expansion/replacement with their aircraft, even in this suckiest of economies. They know that when things turn around for you and you and your family is flying again, they’ll have brand new aircraft waiting to carry you safely to your destination.
While Delta has a monochrome commercial with an equally depressing voice talking about challenges, this American Airlines advertisement is bright, colorful, and full of optimism.
Southwest Airlines — Big Gain (no change fees)
Southwest Airlines — Celebration (bags fly free)
Southwest Airlines — Flag (bags fly free)
Southwest Airlines — Bag Penalty (bags fly free)
Do you get the theme with the current commercials and main themes with Southwest Airlines?
As part of being a low-cost airline, Southwest also makes it known that your first two checked bags are free, and there are no change fees when switching your flight. For those travelers when focus more on budget instead of service, those are huge selling points. The gimmick with the football theme works during the football season, but you can expect a new round of commercials as the sport season changes.
I’m glad that Southwest will finally be making flights out of Atlanta, but that’s through the acquisition of AirTran. That’s right, folks. Those AirTran paint jobs will disappear and the aircraft will be re-painted to Southwest starting in 2012.
Frontier Airlines — Stretch Seating
Frontier Airlines hit a home run with their gimmick of animal-themed tails. Each aircraft has its own unique animal, and many of them are featured in the TV commercials and advertising campaigns. When it comes to being fun and catchy, the animals work great and can really capture people’s attention.
In this Frontier commercial the animals are talking about extension of leg room now available in the Classic plus (a.k.a. first class) part of the aircraft’s cabin. While this won’t benefit every passenger on the aircraft, this is still a physical selling feature instead of something generic like “we treat you like an individual” or other vague promises.
Frontier Airlines — Boardroom
Here we have the animals discussing the airline’s low fares in a boardroom meeting. Once again, the airline’s commercials feature a valid selling point appealing to many customers these days.
Frontier Airlines — Rabbit Hole
In another take of the low fares angle, here we have Jack the rabbit introducing us to his family and explaining that with the airline’s low fares, it’s easy for friends and family to fly home. It’s a simple commercial, but all of the rabbits are just awesome!
Frontier Airlines — “Still the One”
I know this Frontier Airlines commercial is a few years old, but the song and singing animals are still awesome.
When it comes to flying, do you let TV commercials and advertisements influence your decision as to which airline earns your business?