If you fly American Airlines with any frequency, you’ve probably heard their inflight credit card sales pitches for their co-branded Barclays products. You know, they have limited time special offers available only for passengers on a particular flight. 😉
As annoying as this is for frequent flyers who hear the sales pitch on every flight, it’s a surprisingly effective marketing tool for the airlines, and it’s one of their best sources of acquisitions.
While United has been promoting their co-branded credit cards in many ways, flight attendant announcements about the product haven’t been consistent. That will be changing soon.
Skift reports that as of September 1, 2018, United will require their flight attendants to pitch their credit card on every domestic and international flight. As part of this, the airline will be rolling out new training so that the crews can better be educated on the product.
In order to give flight attendants an incentive to sell the card as well as possible, they’ll also be getting a doubled payout on the card, as they’ll receive $100 for every approved application, rather than the current $50 bonus.
United’s SVP of Inflight Services said the following about this in an internal memo:
“Some of our biggest competitors, including American, actively promote their cards through the Inflight division and have a sizable lead on the number of new customers their flight attendants generate by marketing the card on board. We need to answer this challenge just as we would any other competitive threat.”
Meanwhile a United spokesperson said the following about this initiative:
“We are introducing a new training program for our co-branded credit card that is especially designed for flight attendants, as this work group has the most engagement with our customers. Our Inflight crew are effective ambassadors, who can best communicate to our customers in the moment the benefits of the United Explorer card.”
Much like with American, I think it goes without saying that this will be annoying for frequent flyers. Even Bose headphones can’t fully drown out the noise of an announcement. I do hope that as part of the training they at least instruct the crews to make these announcements at the very beginning or end of the flight, so that the disruption is minimized.
However, this is also quite effective for the airlines, so I can’t really blame them for using this as a marketing technique. Furthermore, flight attendants generally aren’t very well paid, so this can be a great way for them to supplement their income. I know a flight attendant at another airline who makes more from his inflight credit card pitches then he otherwise gets paid by the airline. That’s certainly the exception rather than the norm, but this could easily make a significant difference in their income.
(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)