The Banality Of Inflight Credit Card Pitches

Kevin Williamson doesn’t like the American Airlines inflight credit card pitch.

The awfulness of this is multifaceted. For one thing, there is the Clockwork Orange sensation of being literally strapped into a seat while someone screams corporate banalities at you on a loudspeaker fifteen inches from your head. That is beyond bad manners — it is positively abusive…

It is a “limited-time” offer in the sense that the sun eventually will run out of gas and become a dying star, first engulfing the Earth in fire and then leaving the wreck of the solar system a sterile plane of interstellar cold and utter silence, which will be interrupted only by some addled flight attendant screeching about the limited-time Barclays card offer.

What Kevin forgets to mention is the announcement being used as a wake up call at 6 a.m after a redeye flight. Of course, according to American Airlines, only 14% of passengers on a given flight have an AAdvantage credit card. That’s a huge opportunity to grow the card portfolio. The people most likely to be interested in the American Airlines credit card are those already flying American Airlines.

And in fact since American has two card issuers, and customers can have both, the pool of potential applicants on board is even greater than American suggests (flight attendants used to regularly point out that even Citi AAdvantage customers could get a Barclays-issued card).

Inflight card pitches shouldn’t be done before 8 a.m., or on redeye flights. One good reason, by the way, for airline seat back entertainment is that the entertainment can be paused during flight attendant announcements. When people are using their own devices, they’re free to ignore card pitches. American Airlines should work with Barclays to sponsor a return of the screens.

I’ve even argued that American should increase the size of its lavatories and plaster them with credit card ads. That way a revenue stream would attach to the lavatory space, and American would no longer need to view the fact they have to provide lavs as a deadweight loss.

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