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AirTran puts ads on tray tables

There's seemingly no limit to airlines' attempts to generate revenue.

By Karen Datko Nov 18, 2009 10:04PM

AirTran is selling ad space on the bottom of seat-back tray tables, and bloggers are having lots of fun with this.

 

"Since you've got to lock that puppy up for taking off and landing, and for any time you don't want to bang your knees on the tray in flight, those ads are going to get plenty of 'air' time," Bryce Longton wrote at BlackBook.

What’s next? Selling ad space on the outside of the plane? It turns out that’s been done -- by Skybus and Ryanair. 

 

The new ads, which will appear soon in all 138 AirTran planes, were purchased by Mother Nature Network to promote a chance to win a Royal Caribbean cruise. Tom Johansmeyer of Gadling said subsequent ads in the 2.5-by-9-inch space will also be travel-related. (Meanwhile, The Associated Press reports, ads promoting alcohol, cigarettes and strip clubs won’t be allowed.)

 

However, Bryce suggested five other products he thinks would be a good fit as well, including the Slanket (a Snuggie competitor), Bose noise-canceling headphones, Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader, and JetBlue. "What better way to steal business from your competitor than to advertise on their turf? 'You could be watching 36 channels of DirecTV instead of reading this ad!'" Bryce writes.

 

This latest attempt to generate airline revenue is not as outrageous as Ryanair’s ill-conceived plan to charge passengers for in-flight access to the loo. And actually, it’s not that groundbreaking. Airlines have placed ads on the tops of tray tables, and on cups and napkins. Ryanair sells ad space  on overhead bins.

 

The Sun-Herald in Australia reports that revenue from all sorts of airline fees, surcharges, ads, etc., has risen industrywide from $2.29 billion in 2006 to $10.25 billion (that’s U.S. dollars) last year.

 

Why this desperation for new revenue sources? Gadling says:

The five largest airlines in the United States lost an aggregate $3.2 billion through the first nine months of 2009. They've tried combating this with extra fees and extremely aggressive cost-cutting, but nothing has really been successful.

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