What Are Airlines Thinking With These New Ads?

Are the campaigns better? You decide!

— -- In the sexist days of yore, many ad campaigns for airlines shared the same approach: show off flight attendants in hot pants (as Southwest did) or create some buzz with a provocative slogan like, "We really move our tail for you," (as Continental did).

Today, it's different. But are the campaigns better? You decide. Here’s a few.

American's controversial take on passengers

I've seen American's new TV commercials on YouTube and print ads for newspapers and I have to admit, they are somewhat puzzling. The slogan proclaims, "World's Greatest Flyers," yet the campaign seems to suggest how these "great" passengers can fix their shortcomings. Example: These words describing American passengers appear on-screen, "They like babies," which is then followed by the phrase, "but bring noise canceling headphones." Later on we see, "They always ask before they raise or lower the window shade." The video ends on an unsettling note: "They know they have a limited time on Earth [brief pause] and even less above it." As a Forbes reporter put it, "Hmmm?"

Southwest returns to humor

Southwest has always had a great sense of humor, as we saw last week in the viral video of a flight attendant giving a speech to passengers in a variety of Looney Tunes voices, ending of course, with an imitation of Porky Pig saying, "That's all, folks!"

Southwest's old TV ads were funny, too, like the one featuring cheerfully overweight baggage handlers extolling the beauty of free bags. Then for a brief but boring period, the airline looked like the others with "normal" ads about their new 737-800 planes ("A nice ride," said a bland but no doubt competent pilot). The good news is, the old Southwest is back with its new Wanna Get Away ads. One shows a TV reporter conducting a live interview in a dark room because the undercover agent must keep his identity secret; naturally, this is when some doofus walks in and flips on the lights. "Want to get away?" asks the narrator. The looks on the faces are priceless.

Spirit tones it down

Not anymore: Today's restrained Spirit features a sale named for National Literacy Day (!) and one that ran during the Rio Olympics called, Stick the Landing Sale (It's kind of funny only because it sounds so odd).

But you can still get a glimpse of the old Spirit if you look up their packing-tips videos: One features a young man named Jack, the other stars Theresa and both pack a small carry-on by stripping down to their underwear.

Well, at least we don't have ads like the long defunct National Airlines used to run which featured a changing cast of flight attendants spouting the now notorious line: "I'm Cheryl. Fly me."

Rick Seaney is the CEO of FareCompare, a website that curates the best deals on flights from around the world. Any opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.