“Ladies and gentlemen, please stow your carry-on bags underneath the seat in front of you or in a Liberty Mutual overhead bin.”
Spirit, the airline that will do anything for a dollar, is hawking virtually every surface of its planes to corporate sponsors—barf bags and all. As it indiscriminately sacrifices in-flight ambiance in exchange for marketing dollars, Spirit positions itself to become the spammy Facebook timeline of the airline industry. According to a report from Skift, the ultra-low-cost carrier plans to plaster ads on air-sickness bags, tray tables, napkins, overhead bins, cups, menus, bulkheads, and window panels. Or a company could purchase a Spirit plane wrap, in which case an entire Airbus would be covered in ads—a veritable flying billboard.
Skift got ahold of Spirit’s onboard advertising rate card. A year-long plane wrap costs $40,000. Seatback inserts run $60,000 per quarter. And your company’s logo on the barf bag sells for $30,000 per quarter.
Spirit courts sponsors with the creepy promise of a captive audience: “We provide an environment where cell phones are turned off and the consumer is stationary with the ability to focus on nothing but your brand for an average of three hours,” reads the advertising section of Spirit’s website. With no Wi-Fi on Spirit flights, this group is especially ripe for corporate manpulation. For an additional fee, Spirit flight attendants will tear newspapers, books, and other distractions out of the hands of potential consumers.
The in-flight ad blitz is Spirit’s latest effort to keep costs low. In case you forgot, this is the fee-obsessed airline that brought flyers such gems as the $100 carry-on fee and the very classy $7 canned wine.
Although a reasonable person might object to the incessant brand exposure that continues to permeate every waking moment of human existence, I don’t think a Doritos ad on the back of the tray table will take much away from Spirit’s already joyless aesthetic. Its seats don’t recline. There’s no Internet connection. Out of all U.S. airlines in the industry, Spirit offers the smallest seat pitch. It couldn’t get much worse.
Or could it?
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(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)