On September 17, Spirit Airlines announced it will launch an onboard advertising program, featuring ads on overhead compartments, tray tables, and bulkheads. The airline's first client, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, will also have seat-back inserts with special Spirit Vacations deals to the Bahamas. The campaign is set to begin this week.
From a financial standpoint, the move makes an incredible amount of sense. As Spirit writes in its press release, "Where else can you find ... a targeted captive audience that will be actively engaged by your ad for an average of three hours?" The move also falls in line with Spirit's ultra-low-cost-carrier identity, modeled more or less after Ryanair, which also sells onboard ad space.
What's more difficult to judge is how customers will respond to the, shall we say, change in ambiance onboard Spirit's planes. While this is a far cry from the Skybus experience, which coupled onboard ads with flight attendants selling jewelry and other items mid-flight, the in-your-face ads all over the plane could become annoying.
On the other hand, if selling ads brings in revenue and causes minimal inconvenience to passengers, and that added revenue helps Spirit keep its fares low, maybe onboard advertising isn't such a bad idea. I'd certainly prefer looking at an ad for three hours to paying $15 for my first checked bag (wait a minute—Spirit does charge $15 for the first checked bag).
Anyway, if onboard advertising meant fares could stay reasonable, would you mind looking at a Coca-Cola logo on your cross-country flight? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.