It’s not really a secret how I feel about British Airways business class. Even when the food and service is good, the seat is my least favorite fully flat business class hard product I’ve ever flown.
Meanwhile even when American’s food and service is horrible, at least their reconfigured planes feature direct aisle access from every seat, and most of them feature Wi-Fi.
The two airlines are part of a transatlantic joint venture (along with Finnair and Iberia), so understandably they want to promote the benefits of it.
However, I think they’ve taken it a step too far with their latest ad. It’s called “British Airways Versus American Airlines — Which Is Better?” In the ad, two kids (each representing an airline) argue whether American or British Airways business class is better. Eventually they come to the conclusion that both airlines are great.
Here’s the ad:
First of all, the kids in the ad are adorable, and the idea behind the ad is cute.
The problem is that the two kids basically come to the conclusion that both airlines are great. Why?
- They both have fully flat seats
- They both have noise canceling headphones
- They both have personal touchscreen monitors with on-demand entertainment
- They both have power supplies
- They both have “luxury washbags”
After covering those points, they come to the conclusion that both airlines sound really good. Again, I get they’re trying to convey the message that American and British Airways have a joint venture, but I think collectively they’re really selling themselves short here. It’s not often I’m advocating for American’s onboard product, but…
Yes, it’s true they both have fully flat seats. But is anyone going to argue that these fully flat seats…
…are the same as these fully flat seats?
Is anyone going to argue that these noise canceling headphones…
…are the same as these Bose noise canceling headphones?
British Airways’ fleet is certainly more consistent, in the sense that all planes have the same sub-par fully flat business class seats.
But American has been investing a lot of money in their international hard product, and there are noteworthy aspects to the product, like direct aisle access from every seat, Bose noise canceling headphones, and Wi-Fi on many of their planes.
When trying to market the joint venture, American and British Airways should instead be focused on the number of daily flights they offer to London, etc. Perhaps the biggest problem with this ad is that virtually all airlines they’re competing with offer all those things — Delta, Virgin Atlantic, and United all have flat beds, power supplies, on-demand entertainment, amenity kits, etc.
But to literally do a side-by-side comparison of the products and to come to the conclusion that they’re basically the same and “both airlines are great” is really an insult to consumers, and also an insult to the money American has invested in their new seats. I guess that would explain why the video was posted on British Airways’ YouTube page, and not on American’s.
Or who knows, maybe American can integrate this into their “World’s Greatest Flyers” ad campaign — after all, the #GreatestFlyers don’t care whether they have direct aisle access or not, and the #GreatestFlyers don’t care whether there are eight or four seats per row, as long as they have a flat bed. 😉
Regardless, the biggest sin of this commercial is that it doesn’t do anything to differentiate the American and British Airways joint venture from the competition, since all major airlines offer what they’re advertising.
What do you think more of this ad? Are they focusing on the wrong similarities, or am I wrong about the onboard products?
(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)