Five Major Airlines to Add Ads to Boarding Passes

Posted July 16, 2008 by Zak Patten

Boardingpasscollection If you’ve been living under a rock for the past six months or so, let me be the first to tell you: Because of fuel prices, most U.S. airlines are strapped for cash. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and so we’ve seen an explosion of moneymaking schemes to recoup some of the dollars being sucked up at the fuel pump. Now that fees for frequent flyers and other airline transactions are in place, major U.S. carriers are looking for a new way to turn on the cash hose: advertising.

Continental —along with Delta, Northwest, United, and US Airways—have signed with Sojern, a marketing company that targets travelers, to put advertisements on boarding passes. According to Tim Winship, writing for our sister site SmarterTravel.com, ads are going to play a much bigger role in air travel than they ever have before. Boarding passes are just the beginning.

If you’ve done the Europe-on-a-budget thing lately, you may have had the opportunity to fly Ryanair. If so, you know how the low-cost airline can afford to sell seats for £1—its planes are plastered with ads. As Winship notes, this trend isn’t confined to the other side of the Pond anymore: “US Airways has gone furthest in emulating the Ryanair model, displaying ads on tray tables and on airsick bags.”

In fact, it looks like the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is going to help get the ad train moving down the track by selling space on bins at security lines, while Dallas/Ft. Worth airport will be using its baggage carousels for the same purpose.  I’m no more a fan of advertising than the next consumer (except for this Southwest commercial, which I love), but let’s face it: We’re either going to have to pay a lot more to fly or put up with some in-your-face “messaging.” I’ll take the latter.

How do you feel about this trend? Do you mind ads on your boarding pass? On your baggage carousel? Will you boycott airlines that over-advertise?

(Photo: upgradetravelbetter.com)

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