If you’ve flown recently, you can likely rattle off a litany of complaints about fees, airport security, seat size, delays, general grimness of the experience—so many pet peeves to pick from. However, American Airlines is launching an ad campaign that hints that, hm, maybe you’re a candidate for an attitude adjustment!


The New York Times reports on the airline’s new ad campaign, which sounds like a strange meld of flattery and etiquette lesson.

In a new campaign, which begins this week, aimed at the “world’s greatest fliers,” the airline says it wants to get away from fixating on features like the speed of its Wi-Fi or the size of the entertainment console.

Instead, the campaign praises travelers whose actions — like ceding the armrest to the middle-seat passenger — make the in-flight experience a better one. “Customers really have a huge impact on the flying experience,” said Fernand Fernandez, American’s vice president of global marketing.

One ad apparently reads, “Always upbeat, great fliers make the best of their situation no matter where they’re sitting.”


More gems are available on the airline’s YouTube channel, with video spots outlining the characteristics of “the world’s greatest travelers.” Some of it is fairly uncontroversial, like suggesting they don’t dawdle when getting around the airport. But there are bits such as: “They know their mood contributes to the mood of the flight.” Well, maybe everyone’s mood would be better if they didn’t have to scramble to find overhead bin space because nobody checks their giant bags anymore because airlines are using luggage as another opportunity to squeeze another $25 out of everybody. American Airlines pioneered that little innovation, right?

My personal favorite is targeted to first class and business travelers: “We believe that by making it great for you... We make it great for everyone.” Sorry? Literally no idea how lie-flat seats in first class and business make it any better for my ass crammed into coach?

Though, please don’t think they’re being proscriptive, or lecturing. They’re just looking to cultivate some chill posi vibes, here.



“It’s not just like these are tips on how to be a great flier. It’s a way of thinking,” said Ralph Watson, vice president and chief creative officer at Crispin Porter & Bogusky Boulder, American’s ad agency partner. “It’s a slightly elevated sense of awareness for others; it’s a little bit less selfish. I think a lot of this is to recognize that behavior and help it spread.”

Mr. Watson said American was aware of the need to use a deft touch. A tone consumers perceive as didactic could be a turnoff. “All we’re doing is identifying their behaviors,” he said, while leaving the directive implicit. “We’re not saying, ‘You should.’”

Just remember that you’re never fully dressed without a smile, and there’s no point in complaining about air travel because nobody at any of the airlines cares.