In 1965, Leo Burnett Co. designed a campaign focused on the theme “Fly the Friendly Skies” for United Airlines. The campaign lasted more than 30 years, ending in 1996 when United took its advertising in a new direction, first focusing on “Rising” and then on “it’s time to fly.” For those of you who may want to reminisce about some of those feel-good (and corny) ads, here are some links to a few of my favorite:
- 1982 United Airlines Commercial
- 80s Business Couple
- Friendly Skies – You are the Boss
- Friendly Skies – Favorite Airlines
While seemingly random, this campaign came to mind as I was reading about what seems to be an increase in the number of disruption of flights from unruly passengers. On Wednesday, a passenger in Miami on a flight to Detroit shouted that he wanted to “kill all the Jews” as the plane was beginning its takeoff. The plane had to turn around and the man removed.
In this heightened environment, airlines and officials are more likely to take the cautious route and turn planes around or divert them when unruly passengers are reported. Unfortunately, such actions for every drunk or misbehaving passenger complicate the nation’s aviation security efforts and cost significant amount of time and money. While the military doesn’t estimate costs, one quote put the cost at $10,000 an hour for the scrambling of each jet. That cost does not include the additional cost for fuel, personnel, and resources to accommodate diversions. Add to that the disruption of schedules and costs to travelers, the costs are outrageous. To make matters worse, the diversions also frustrate an already strained flying public.
Post 9/11, the diligence and security of planes has increased – pilots, airline personnel, attendants, and passengers are more aware of their surroundings and fellow fliers. While much attention has been paid to screening efforts in recent days, I wonder if the increasing phenomenon of plane diversions should also be examined to determine what solutions or alternatives may be in order.