Here Are My Favorite Airline Ad Campaigns

Here Are My Favorite Airline Ad Campaigns

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I’ve written in the past about the best airline boarding music (which I often listen to at home). Continuing with the theme of enjoying airline-related things at home, today I wanted to share some of my favorite airline ads that were produced in the past 20 years.

I”m a huge fan of both airlines and marketing, so when you combine the two, I enjoy airline ads more than others. At a time when many people are still traveling a lot less than in the past, I find these ads even more enjoyable.

It’s hard to rank these ads since they’re all so different, but here are some of my favorites (and then in the comments section below I’d like to hear which ads OMAAT readers like most, ideally with links to them):

Etihad’s “Flying Reimagined” campaign

Ahhh, remember the time when Etihad was super aspirational and not yet a complete mess? Yes, it was a good few months. The below ad featuring Nicole Kidman is just so whimsical and fun to watch, and really was the start of Etihad (briefly) being an ultra-luxurious carrier. It’s hard to believe that Etihad’s A380s are now a thing of the past

American Airlines’ post-9/11 ad campaign

You’re probably surprised I’m including an American Airlines ad on this list, but the company’s post 9/11 ad campaign was phenomenal, and the tagline rings true now more than ever before:

“We are an airline. But it’s become clear we are more.”

As we just passed the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and as the industry faces its biggest challenges since then, this ad sure seems relevant.

British Airways’ “To Fly, To Serve” campaign

One aspect of British Airways that I’ve long loved is the advertising. Of British Airways’ ads, the below one that recounts the advancements in aviation is one of my favorites.

Also, while the below doesn’t qualify as a traditional advertisement, British Airways’ “Visit Mum” campaign is one of the most touching five minute videos I’ve ever seen. If it doesn’t make you cry I question whether you’re human.

KLM’s “100 Years Of Progress” campaign

To celebrate its 100th birthday, KLM released an incredible ad showcasing the progress of aviation since the company’s founding. Not only do I love the message in general, but the production quality is flawless, given the extent to which uniforms and aircraft over the years are featured.

Singapore Airlines’ “The Lengths We Go” campaign

Singapore Airlines is such an iconic brand, and the airline has had so many memorable ad campaigns over the years. My favorite is the 2013 “The Lengths We Go” campaign. The music, the imagery… wow!

Turkish Airlines’ “Widen Your World” campaign

Let’s be honest — Morgan Freeman could read the ingredients list of a Fiber One bar and I’d be into it. When you combine Turkish Airlines with Morgan Freeman, you get magic.

While not as widely relatable, avgeeks will appreciate the below Turkish Airlines ad, featuring kids that are as excited about airplanes as I am. These kids are basically me in Miami (since I live under the approach path for MIA), except I don’t have to build a runway.

Qantas’ “Feels Like Home” campaign

While this ad is from pre-coronavirus times, I imagine that for many people this feels more relevant than ever before. I know many Australians feel like they’re at home the second they step on a Qantas flight in another country, and this ad captures that perfectly, along with the joy of reuniting with loved ones.

Emirates’ Jennifer Aniston campaign

There’s not a more fun way to fly than in Emirates’ A380 first class. Emirates’ ad from several years ago that stars Jennifer Aniston sums up what makes it so incredible.

While objectively pretty cringeworthy, I also love how catchy Emirates’ recent “I Want To Fly The World” ad is.

And let’s not forget the unbelievable stunt that Emirates pulled off, where a flight attendant climbed to the top of the Burj Khalifa to hold some signs.

Lufthansa’s “Fanhansa” campaign

While not as sentimental as some of the other ads, you have to give Lufthansa credit for its humorous “Fanhansa” ads. In this particular ad, you have two Brits who end up being booked on Lufthansa, and it’s funny to see the difference between what they’re expecting from the Germans and what they actually experience.

Lufthansa had an ad with a similar message for the India market, which was also hilarious.

SWISS’ “The People Behind SWISS” campaign

While this is more of a brand movie than a traditional ad, fellow avgeeks will appreciate the below video from SWISS, which showcases just how much goes into airline operations. The music is pretty great as well.

Bottom line

I think the above is a pretty good sampling of some of my favorite airline ads. From inspirational post-9/11 ads, to ads showcasing the wonder of aviation, to ads focused on specific aspects of airline products, there are quite a few to choose from.

What are your favorite airline ads? 

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  1. Stephen Guest

    Love this post, but... You forgot the Alaska Safety Dance :-)

  2. Wilhelm Guest

    My favourite will always be Qantas’ I still call Australia home campaigns. It was my home for three years, and I still got emotional when I see it. American’s post-9/11 is in the same league, also for us non-Americans.

    As to Lufthansa: Germans have a wicked sense of humour :-)

  3. VT-CIE Gold

    That Lufthansa Indian ad brought back memories of my childhood! I never flew on a long-haul trip, but I saw that ad many times and it made me wish I did. It’s simple but so heart-touching. I don’t have such an emotional connection with the BA Indian ad, though, but I do agree that it is nicely done (though not the tearjerker Ben makes it out to be).

  4. Raphael Guest

    I’m surprised you didn’t include Air France commercial from 2011…
    You don’t see a single staff or aircraft, but suggested so delicately…

    https://youtu.be/J6bGnSEwdKY

    Cheers

  5. Rohn Guest

    I thought the Southern Airways "No one is second class" were the absolute best advertisements.

    https://youtu.be/5bTO2iJJjbU

    https://youtu.be/6tgmHGqtDvc

  6. Emily Guest

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VevKXa8uIyM

  7. TofinoTyee Guest

    How do you not include the WestJet April Fools campaigns?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4SkoJy3D0M
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKfGeLoJKg0
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcbO3hl3_F0
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kZ7WT8RACk
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTUssmXKehw

  8. Chase Turner Guest

    One of the best airline ads (or any ad) that I’ve ever seen was from an agency I worked at in Minneapolis that no longer exists. It was for Northwest Airlines and was just an upside down map of the U.S. introducing their new route to Florida from MSP with the route displayed. The copy simply read “fly Northwest to Florida.” Brilliant in its simplicity. I’ve never been able to find a digital copy.

    1. Chase M Turner Guest

      Note I’ve seen variants of it that you can find out adult but never the original that just showed the map.

  9. Robert F Guest

    The Turkish Airlines commercial with the kids was hands-down the best! It felt the most authentic in capturing the imagination and desire of kids. Wonderful

  10. Michael Williams Guest

    I think for me hands down is Cathay Pacific's 1989 "new day drawing" campaign which was shown on Australian and NZ. https://youtu.be/ZgYddtwHlpU.
    It inspired me to fly with them on my first solo trip from Sydney to Paris as a 19 year old!

  11. Jorge Paez Guest

    Dang, BA made me cry!

  12. JK-SFO Guest

    Thanks for all of these, Ben. They were really great to watch! My favorite is from just before I first started flying internationally in the 1990s - United was running this during the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games:

    https://youtu.be/DOBnfR9WHSk

  13. Tom Guest

    I don’t know if it was used as an ad, but Delta’s ‘heigh ho’ ad with 7 dwarfs’ off to work song is a favorite of mine.

  14. aarjee Guest

    One of my all-time favourites: https://www.ibtimes.co.in/brussels-airlines-creates-two-ads-same-actors-15-years-apart-were-still-tearing-videos-718495

  15. Lotten Guest

    Vivi, ama, vola: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8kyAJqo8nk .

  16. Greg Guest

    These are some great ads.

    While I'm a complete airline nerd, and I've spent too much time on Lufthansa flights over the years, I have to admit to enjoying the LH ads, in part, because of LH's 4 note musical insignia that is featured at the end of the ads.

  17. Robert Brown Guest

    Cathay Pacific’s advertisements from the late 80’s and early 90’s were some of my favourites.

    1. Michael Williams Guest

      "The New day dawning" campaign. All time favorites.

  18. stogieguy7 Diamond

    As far as modern campaigns go, these are fine. But, going farther back there were many much greater ad campaigns by airlines. For example, the TWA "Up Up and Away" campaign during the late 60's. "Fly the Friendly Skies" from United through the 70's. And then Pan Am had some great campaigns during the late 60's and early 70's, many of which used the voice of Hal "Barney Miller" Linden telling you how you have...

    As far as modern campaigns go, these are fine. But, going farther back there were many much greater ad campaigns by airlines. For example, the TWA "Up Up and Away" campaign during the late 60's. "Fly the Friendly Skies" from United through the 70's. And then Pan Am had some great campaigns during the late 60's and early 70's, many of which used the voice of Hal "Barney Miller" Linden telling you how you have the world at your fingertips, don't let it slip away ("Pan Am makes the going great!") Tons of others comes to mind as well.

    Ads back in my childhood days were more clever, because they had to be. Now they rely on too much CGI.

  19. Charles Guest

    Not including United's animated campaigns in this list seems like a sin!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nU5DasW5nUY&ab_channel=Claverly

  20. Abidjan Guest

    I always enjoy the UA campaign with Gerswhin's "Rhapsody in Blue."

  21. Doug Guest

    before your time but one of the greats:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yxbgm9Bmkzw

  22. JB Guest

    Do you live east or west of MIA?

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Abidjan Guest

I always enjoy the UA campaign with Gerswhin's "Rhapsody in Blue."

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stogieguy7 Diamond

As far as modern campaigns go, these are fine. But, going farther back there were many much greater ad campaigns by airlines. For example, the TWA "Up Up and Away" campaign during the late 60's. "Fly the Friendly Skies" from United through the 70's. And then Pan Am had some great campaigns during the late 60's and early 70's, many of which used the voice of Hal "Barney Miller" Linden telling you how you have the world at your fingertips, don't let it slip away ("Pan Am makes the going great!") Tons of others comes to mind as well. Ads back in my childhood days were more clever, because they had to be. Now they rely on too much CGI.

1
Doug Guest

before your time but one of the greats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yxbgm9Bmkzw

1
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