Consumers lash out at American Airline’s latest campaign

Critics say the company’s YouTube video about the ‘greatest travelers’ puts responsibility (and blame) on the consumers, not the airline.

Those subjected to air travel with any frequency understand the unwritten flight etiquette.

If you travel often, you probably also noticed how airlines are slightly less comfortable, far less efficient and significantly more expensive than your average city bus.

Consider those elements and you’ll start to understand why American Airlines’ latest ad has sparked such controversy and debate. Watch for yourself:

It’s apparent that American wants to associate itself with savvy travelers—which is understandable. However, nobody likes to be told what to do, even if it’s couched in subtleties.

That includes:

  • Walking faster in airports
  • Bringing noise-cancelling headphones on a flight
  • Packing like a wizard
  • Always asking the person seated beside you before opening or closing the window shade

A print ad in this campaign says that the world’s best fliers are “always upbeat” and that they “make the best of their situation no matter where they’re sitting.”

Social media users took to Twitter and voiced their criticism:

YouTube had its share of comments, too:

“So while I agree that the general flying public needs to improve their attitudes and try to embrace some of these. I am not sure that an airline that tries to milk every cent from its customers is the right voice to be pointing that out.”—Daishar

“America’s Greatest flyers fly Southwest. (No fees)”—philis05

Not all consumer responses were negative:

“Great job on this ad! I agree and it is about time they pointed out how when people think outside of themselves, their journey can be a lot more pleasant.”—A Taylor

“Not sure what all the controversy is about. The ad is basically saying that American Airlines has the best customers. Seems fine to me.”

However, many are taking issue with the campaign because American is asking the flying public to change its attitude in order to have a good experience—instead of meeting the consumer halfway.

If the airline is going to force customers to sit in tiny seats with little legroom and offer next to no dignities while charging exorbitant fees, its PR team is going to have a tough time asking flyers to make employees’ lives easier.

What do you think, Ragan readers? What message(s) would you advise American Airlines to use?

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