Paint those Planes! An airline industry suggestion

With airline revenue dropping and the industry in a tizzy about staying in the air, airlines have tacked on all kinds of additional passenger fees to maintain profitability. Most carriers today charge you extra for luggage, express check-in, headphones, movies, 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, parts, equipment and of course labor. But what’s next? The pay toilet idea was flushed but 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 Airline Industry – look to an unlikely source for economic survival as well as improved customer satisfaction - the multi billon dollar world of Automobile Racing. Instead of punishing your passengers, look for outside forms of revenue, like they do. 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 on the wings, there are no FAA rules against this) 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. Race cars are faster than ever and auto racing is extremely popular around the world. Will planes decaled with colorful Tide, Pepsi, IBM and Mont Blanc logos on the fuselage ruin the flying experience for passengers? A big “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 ticket prices go down and free amenities return. I’d have no problem seeing the pilot wear a shirt festooned with AOL stickers and a Mercedes-Benz logo on the pocket while enjoying a decent complimentary meal, pillow and glass of Chardonnay. Customers would applaud a flight attendant smartly dressed with sporty Anheuser-Busch, Macy’s 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; a little advertising won’t hurt. 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 customers are waiting. -
c. Bob Ecker

Bob Ecker is a travel writer based in Napa, California

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