Virgin America lets people waiting at bus-stops explore its mood-lit cabin via Google Streetview

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This case appears in the upcoming December 2015 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

Virgin America has turned bus shelters in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington D.C., and Chicago into digitally-immersive, out of home advertisements with the help of Google Street View. This campaign plays right into Virgin America’s popular image as the hip and edgy airline in the North American market.

The bus stops are completely covered in Virgin imagery and branding. People waiting at the special bus stops can use also huge touchscreen to navigate through one of Virgin America’s aircraft in precisely the same way they are used to doing on Google Street View (which now features similar interior views for airlines such as Emirates, Air France, British Airways and SAS).

The 360-degree virtual experience lets bus-takers explore an A320 cabin from front to back galley, and even enter the rows for a realistic “seat view.”

Virgin has blended the visual impact of large-scale out of home advertising with the futuristic allure of digital. When trying to impress people in a world saturated with marketing messages, sometimes more is more.

Virgin America’s ‘Seat View’ can be found on the airline’s website and is accessible through Google Maps – one simply need type in “Virgin America” plus the code of an US airport they service.

A web campaign aims to drive traffic the new feature. Clickable banners directing people to the feature have appeared online at The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, etc.

Lufthansa airport ‘pods’ let parents record a bedtime story for their kids

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This case appears in the November 2015 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly premium report by and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

Stories are an important part of childhood. Not only do children learn language or lessons about how the world works, but storytelling also forms a strong bond between parents and their kids. Reading rituals are important, but working parents who travel a lot have to miss out sometimes. What if they could tell bedtime stories even though they have to catch a plane?

That’s the premise behind Lufthansa’s latest marketing campaign – called Bedtime Stories (video). The airline has installed a mobile recording studio – in the shape of a moon – at a departure gate at Frankfurt Airport, which invites parents to record their favorite bedtime story as an audio book in their own voice, and then send it their kids at home via email or text message. Children then click on the link and gets redirected to the microsite where they can download or listen directly. A second recording pod will be installed at Munich Airport as well.

If time at the gate is too short to read a whole book, there are pre-recorded audiobooks to choose from, narrated by well-known German voices, such as actor Axel Prahl. Moms and dads can add a personal good-night-wish and a photo of themselves to the story. Lufthansa has worked with several publishing companies to offer a large selection of popular children’s books to choose from.

The Bedtime Stories ‘studios’ can be found at the airports of Frankfurt and Munich from mid October through the end of the year and will be supported with traditional advertisements via social media (hashtag #LufthansaStories) and the Lufthansa’s magazines.

“Travelling is always an emotional experience: Farewell and greeting, a change of place and culture, wanderlust and homesickness,” says Alexander Schlaubitz, Head of Marketing at Lufthansa. “We want to make every passenger feel as though they are in good hands.”

WestJet promotes its first long-haul route ‘Ricky Gervais’ style


This case appears in the October 2015 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

WestJet has taken inspiration from mockumentary comedy like Ricky Gervais in ‘The Office’ and ‘An Idiot Abroad,’ to create its latest 90-second spot promoting the airline’s new low-fares flights between Toronto and London.

The premise is of a long-distance romance between Dave, in England, and his girlfriend Katie, in Canada. To save money on flights to visit his sweetheart, Dave disguises himself to travel as a dog.

For most of the video Dave boasts to the camera of the genius of his scheme, but, as the video ends, the camera zooms-in on an ad in the newspaper thrown into Dave’s cage, with a printed ad of WestJet’s new GBP194 one-way fares from Gatwick to Toronto.

In a last line as heart-wrenching as it is side-splitting, Dave the Dog says: “Is that a misprint? I’m eating kibble!”

Richard Bartrem, VP marketing communications at West Jet, said the ad reflects WestJet’s “fun and friendly attitude”.

The launch of this ad follows the airline’s introduction of its new 767-300 service, with new cabins and a new logo, all in preparation WestJet’s first long-haul service.

Surprisingly, the video has just over 78,000 views on YouTube so far. In comparison, WestJet’s viral Christmas Miracle has generated over 41 million views.

This could be a simple matter of timing, or a sign that heart-strings can trump funny bones, when it comes to on-line viewership. Read full article »

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JetBlue installs free book vending machines in low-literacy neighbourhoods

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This case appears in the August 2015 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

JetBlue has extended its social responsibility initiatives with a pilot program aimed to close the literacy gap in a low-income town by providing vending machines that give out thousands of free books to underprivileged children. A selection of 12 books rotates every two weeks, offering up to 42 different titles through the summer.

The airline teamed-up with publishing company Random House to place three vending book machines around the low-literacy neighbourhood of Anacostia, in Washington, D.C. which was chosen to launch this program after a study commissioned by JetBlue found that the Anacostia section of D.C. is a large ‘book desert’, leaving residents little or no access to purchase age-appropriate children’s books. According to city school data, the area sees less than 25 per cent of its middle schools (for children aged between 11-15) able to ready at grade level.

The kiosks have been placed at a Salvation Army’s community center, a Safeway store on Alabama Avenue and near the entrance of a Baptist Church.

To help their children enjoy their books, parents can opt-in to an SMS campaign that offers reading tips, as well as updates when the vending machines are re-stocked with fresh selections.

“Innovative solutions that involve and engage the community is necessary to combat the current summer slump that happens especially in underserved communities,” said Icema Gibbs, JetBlue’s director of corporate social responsibility. Read full article »

TAM uses Facebook profiles to personalize the inflight magazine for each passenger on Milan flight

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This case appears in the July 2015 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of it’s Sao Paulo-Milan route, TAM Airlines recently wowed a flight full of passengers by using Facebook to learn more about them and creating a 100 percent personalized inflight magazine for each.

By integrating Facebook Connect into the ticket purchasing process, TAM was able to access the likes, preferences, social activity and even the photos of their guests to create a completely unique “Ownboard Magazine” with customized content from front to back.

When passengers boarded this special flight, they found a magazine in their seatback pocket that featured a cover showing their face and their first name in big, bold letters.

Every single article, photo and advert in the magazine was geared towards the passenger’s personal interests and life experiences. For example, the inside of the front cover showed the passenger’s name turned into a colour, and one page showed a montage of interesting things that happened on the day they were born.

The idea behind this initiative was to show passengers how much TAM cares about them and understands them. Furthermore, TAM had previously observed that passengers spent only around 3 percent of their time onboard looking at the inflight magazine.

Watching the YouTube video produced about the initiative (which has received more than 18,000 views since May 11), it is clear that passengers were quite happy with their Ownboard Magazines. In fact, 100 percent of the passengers from that flight took the magazine off the plane with them.

Jetstar lets participants in TV cooking show create its new buy-on-board meal


This case appears in the May 2015 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

Value-based carrier Jetstar featured strongly on an April episode of the popular Australian competitive cooking show My Kitchen Rules, which presents teams of wannabe chefs squaring-off in culinary challenges that test teamwork, creativity and prowess in the kitchen.

In the episode airing April 13th, six duelling culinary teams found themselves in a hangar at Sydney Airport, gathered round a 787 Dreamliner in Jetstar’s bold black and orange livery.

The day’s challenge? To prepare an inflight meal for a plane full of hungry passengers that looked delicious, tasted great and fit into Jetstar’s signature back meal box… all in just 90 minutes. The prize? Victors would not only dodge elimination by securing passenger votes, but would also have their creation become the celebrity pre-order meal option on all Jetstar flight over 5.5 hours between April 14 and July 14 of this year.

In addition to enjoying significant brand exposure throughout the hour-long primetime reality show, Jetstar received plenty of coverage from other media outlets. The story was picked up and shared through social media by mainstream media such as the Sydney Morning Herald, advertising sources like B&T, and entertainment blogs including Sydney Confidential.

Morning talk show Sunrise even had its own correspondent and TV cameras on board to taste the different offerings.

The day after the show aired, Jetstar erected pop-up kitchens in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth that let the general public to try out its latest pre-order option. A Jetstar-produced video illustrating how the dish is prepared has been viewed nearly 1,500 times so far.

Tintin takes to the skies with Brussels Airlines

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This article first appeared on TheDesignAir

Brussels Airlines and The Hergé Foundation ‘Moulinsart’ have unveiled an Airbus A320 with a livery inspired by the world famous Belgian cartoon character Tintin. Both Belgian companies have worked several months on this unique project, based on the original drawings by the hand of Hergé.

Move over Shamu (Southwest’s Seaworld livery), the result is a 37m long black shark, based on Professor Calculus’ shark submarine from the Tintin adventure, Red Rackham’s Treasure (image). The aircraft was baptized ‘Rackham’. On the fuselage we read: “We fly you to the home of Tintin.”

Mirroring the designs within Brussels Airlines’ new lounge in Brussels Airport, Tintin – the historical Belgian character created by Hergé, who travels the world on adventurous quests – continues his role as the airline’s travel partner.

This is the first time Belgian cartoonist Hergé been translated onto the fuselage of an aircraft. Hergé himself was fascinated by planes. They are the most used means of transportation in the Tintin oeuvre and they were always drawn with great technical precision.

For the painting of the aircraft, Brussels Airlines worked with aircraft paint artist Andre Eisele, who had the challenging task to adapt the perspective of the drawings prepared by Moulinsart’s graphic designers to the unusual curves of an aircraft fuselage, to get as close to the original shark submarine design as possible. The entire paint job took 1500 man hours in total and even extends to the bulkhead design inside the aircraft (video here). Read full article »

Air France lets passengers waiting at the gate play a digital game for a chance to win an upgrade to Business

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This case appears in the February 2015 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

To raise awareness in the Asia Pacific region of the new cabins on its B777s, Air France has developed a mobile game called Cloud Slicer, which allows travellers to compete for an instant upgrade on their flights.

This game was first launched at Singapore Changi and Osaka Kansai airport in late 2014 when passengers were handed tablets and encouraged to play Cloud Slicer, where they had to swipe the screen to cut up clouds and compete for high scores.

More than 400 passengers in the boarding gates participated in the 15-minute game. Scores were displayed in real-time on three larger screens located at the boarding gates. 15 lucky top scorers in Singapore and six in Osaka were instantly upgraded to Business Class on their flight and received their new boarding passed from the pilot himself. Video of the event here.

From January 19 2015, the competition has been extended to a regional level. All Air France passengers flying from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia or Japan can download the game (iOS or Android) and compete against each other. The best scorers of the month in each country will have the chance to be upgraded on their next flight to Paris.

Three top scorers were picked on January 31st and another three will be selected on February 27th to win free upgrades on their upcoming flights. The contest is only open to ticket holders who will travel between February 15 and December 31, 2015 and is based on seat availability on the travel date.

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Innovative airline marketing campaigns that stood out in 2014

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In order to connect and engage with ever more experienced, connected, and informed consumers, who routinely ignore the commercials and ads thrown at them, airlines around the world are becoming more sophisticated in their marketing activities and are finding new ways to break through the advertising clutter. As such, we are witnessing the birth of many creative campaigns from airlines, be it experiental, social, mobile, digital or traditional media initiatives.

Airline Marketing Benchmark Report and SimpliFlying jointly produce the premium monthly Airline Marketing Benchmark Report, which features the most innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Each month’s report contains 15 new case-studies that inform and inspire airline marketers and creative agencies how other airlines are making a difference with their marketing-communication campaigns. So far, we have published 28 editions, reporting on over 400 airline case studies. Have a look at this sample report and infographic to learn more.

Clients that have subscribed to the monthly service include Etihad, Turkish Airlines, Aeroflot, Aer Lingus, LAN, Qantas, Air New Zealand, Boeing and Airbus. Learn more »

Innovative campaigns in 2014
To recap 2014, we have selected those innovative marketing campaigns launched by airlines in the past year that in our opinion do a great job engaging today’s media-savvy and connected consumers.

1. KLM takes ‘social service’ to a new level with #HappyToHelp campaign

KLM in October took its social media-based customer service to another level with a bold campaign called #HappyToHelp. During five days, a dedicated team scanned social media forany passenger facing travel woes throughout the world, and responded with real-time answers and support. Read article »

2. Airlines let food trucks do the promotion

Food trucks are a hot phenomenon these days, having evolved from chip stands into quality gourmet food-on-the-go. In an effort to reach today’s marketing-savvy consumers, Korean Air and Lufthansa in the fall of this year were the latest airlines to capitalize on the food truck trend for marketing purposes. Read article »

3. JetBlue turns a flight ticket into a ‘chain letter of human goodness’

JetBlue in November put its own twist on the concept of ‘paying it forward’, by awarding a free ticket to several deserving individuals involved in humanitarian efforts. In an ongoing effort, JetBlue lets that person select another deserving recipient of the free ticket, and so on and so on. Read article » Read full article »

KLM lets friends and family surprise their loved ones with a ‘seat cover’ greeting

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By Raymond Kollau,

KLM is on a roll when it comes to surprising passengers with unexpected touches. In the past months, the airline has set up a dedicated ‘Lost & Found’ team at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport that aims to reunite lost items as soon as possible with their legitimate owner. The team uses all available information like seat number, phone numbers and public social media details to reunite passengers with their belongings a.s.a.p.

And last month KLM took its social media-based customer service to another level with a bold campaign called #HappyToHelp. During five days, a dedicated team scanned social media for any passenger facing travel woes throughout the world, and responded with real-time answers and support.

Cover Greetings
Showing the sheer diversity of stories of passengers travelling on the same aircraft on a given day, KLM’s latest effort is called ‘Cover Greetings’ and involved placing a personal message from loved ones staying at home to their boyfriend, girlfriend or relative on the headrest of their KLM aircraft seat.

The airline spotted people saying goodbye to their families at the departure gate, then whisked their relatives away to a place where they could decorate a seat cover with their own message. KLM together with AmsterdamSchipholAirport worked together to ensure that the personal message was placed on the right seat in the aircraft.

This made for an unexpected and touching moment for the passengers who boarded the plane as they saw a headrest cover made especially for them.

The moving video showing the cover greetings and passenger’s responses can be watched online and is also currently played on a large, centrally located, screen at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

Although the stunt took place on a single day, involving passengers from three different flights, the airline says it might develop ‘Cover Greetings’ into a permanent service.

JetBlue turns a flight ticket into a ‘chain letter of human goodness’

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This case appears in the November 2014 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

JetBlue is putting its own twist on the concept of “paying it forward,” in a social media-driven initiative called “Fly it Forward” (video here). The program sends one ticket on a never-ending trip around the JetBlue network, aiming to enable people to fulfill a dream or make a meaningful humanitarian impact on the world.

The airline started the long-term campaign by awarding one free JetBlue ticket to several deserving individuals involved in humanitarian efforts, then let that person select another deserving recipient of a free ticket, and so on and so on. Or as the Creativity Online website nicely summarizes the generous concept: “JetBlue is turning an airline ticket into a chain letter of human goodness.”

The first Fly It Forward ticket recipients, shown in this heartwarming video (1.2 million views of YouTube so far), include Tameka Lawson, who represented her Chicago non-profit I-Grow at a UN conference in New York, and Louis Elneus, whose organization Haiti Lumiere helped build the first public library in his home country of Haiti.

These initial recipients were found and picked by JetBlue employees, and now the airline is asking people to submit their own nominations for the next people to get the ticket, through the Fly It Forward microsite and social channels using the hashtag #FlyitForward.

KLM takes ‘social service’ to a new level with #HappyToHelp campaign

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By Raymond Kollau,

KLM, known for its savvy social service and innovative marketing campaigns, took both to new levels last week with a bold #HappyToHelp campaign.

Starting with the premise that the best promotion for customer service is great customer service, a dedicated team scanned social media during five days for passengers facing travel woes throughout the world, and responded with a creative and relevant #HappytoHelp answer produced and personalised for single passengers in real-time – even when those passengers were not travelling with KLM.

On- and offline
Selected problems would then be solved in a variety of ways, ranging from actual physical intervention, such as helping someone retrieve a forgotten passport and still make their flight, to providing one-to-one advice or information through social media.

During the week, KLM’s social media team could rely on the back-up from a team of fast-producing creative people from KLM’s creative agency Tribal DDB with different skills to produce content. Answers ranged from a simple text message to an Instagram picture, a Vine, or YouTube video.

For example, KLM staff made a wake up call over the phone and offered breakfast at the airport (video here) to a traveller who had to get up early to catch her flight, provided a tailored weather report to a traveller who was unsure what to pack for that last minute trip to Ibiza, and recorded a video with personalized Spanish language lessons to a traveller flying to Mexico.

The airline even hired a speed boat on the Hudson River (video) to help out passengers who risked missing a flight–any flight–due to being stuck in traffic on their way to JFK. “Imagine the impact if you are not flying with KLM but it is KLM that gets to the airport,” says Pol Hoenderboom, creative director at Tribal DDB Amsterdam. Read full article »

Airlines let food trucks do the promotion

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This case appears in the October 2014 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

Food trucks are a hot phenomenon these days, evolving from chip stands into quality gourmet food on the go. As experiencing the products and services offered onboard has become an effective marketing tool for airlines to engage savvy consumers, a handful of airlines have capitalized on the food truck trend for marketing purposes.

For more on how airlines are using their onboard catering to engage the general public, see our contribution to this New York Times article “Ground-Level Tastings of the Best Food in the Sky.”

Air France, Austrian, Delta, United, Stockholm Arlanda Airport
For example, in March 2011 Air France sent their own gourmet food truck around the streets of New York City as a means of promoting their on-board catering services. The Air France truck featured dishes by Michelin Star Chef Joël Robuchon and was stationed at locations that were announced via Twitter and Facebook.

On a similar note, nearly a year prior to Air France’s food truck debut, Austrian’s coffee truck toured the streets of NYC as well. Austrian’s initiative was centred around its direct flights to Vienna, and the coffee service was a homage to traditional Viennese coffee and was distributed freely.

Also on the food truck and aviation roster in NYC was Delta Air Lines, who served hot cocoa, while United Airlines promoted the launch of a new route from San Francisco to Taipei this May by partnering with Taiwanese food truck Mamaliu to offer San Franciscans free lunches courtesy of United during a week.

The first airport to use a food truck to promote the restaurants and cafes present at the airport has been Stockholm Arlanda, which sent the Arlanda Food Truck around Stockholm during the fall of 2013. Read full article »

Emirates, Thomas Cook and Marriott trial Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets

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By Raymond Kollau,

We have seen airlines experiment with the latest digital technologies such as Google Glass (Virgin Atlantic, Spring), smartwatches (Vueling, Iberia, airberlin), and even drones (easyJet).

Besides giving airlines an idea of the feasibility of deploying the latest digital devices into daily operations, the trials also create lot of PR (see also the ‘Innovation is the Marketing’ trend in our free The State of Airline Marketing 2014 report).

The latest technology on the block is virtual reality. Virtual reality company Oculus has been building momentum since it launched the Kickstarter campaign for its Oculus Rift headset – a head mounted virtual reality 3D display, which features an ultra-wide field of view and low latency head tracking – two years ago. The company was acquired by Facebook earlier this year for USD 2 billion.

As the travel industry is always among the first to trial new technologies, companies such as Emirates, Marriott Hotels and British tour operator Thomas Cook recently let the public try on Oculus Rift headsets to immerse themselves in a 3D environment.

According to Thomas Cook, “the technology advancements in virtual reality over the last 18 months have made it a real contender for playing a key role in changing the way we can showcase experience-based products to our customers.”

Emirates ‘Innovation Lab’
Set up in 2012, the Emirates Innovation Lab is a platform where Emirates’ creative minds can come together and brainstorm on pioneering ideas, develop them, and apply these ideas to the airline business.

At the GITEX Technology Week in Dubai earlier this month, the Emirates Innovation Lab showed one of its creations which combines Google Street View with the Oculus Rift headset to give users an immersive experience of an Emirates A380 aircraft – allowing a person to be “transported” on board and have a virtual tour of the onboard lounge, the shower spa, and the Business and First Class cabins. According to Emirates, The Innovation Lab will be exploring the use of the technology for their potential use in cabin crew training and applications. Read full article »

Discarded airline materials are upcycled into sports gear, soccer balls and handbags

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By Raymond Kollau,

We have reported before on ‘upcycle’ initiatives from airlines, with carriers such as KLM (uniforms), Finnair (seat covers, seat belts, curtains), Delta (seat covers) and Air France (life jackets) giving discarded airline interior materials a second life as stylish bags. The benefits are three-fold: waste is recycled, airlines add an eco-friendly touch to their brands, and many consumers like the story behind the upcycled product. Here a few more interesting recent examples.

Boeing: From carbon fiber to sports gear
Boeing and American manufacturer of sports equipment Russell Brands are working together to incorporate leftover carbon fiber from B787 Dreamliner production in Russell Athletic protective athletic gear. Composite materials make up 50 percent of the primary structure of the 787, including the fuselage and wing.

Boeing and Russell Athletic see significant benefits in using aerospace-grade carbon fiber because the carbon filaments provide a high strength-to-weight ratio and greater durability. Aerospace-grade carbon fiber is thinner, stronger and approximately 10 percent lighter compared to competitors.

An initial collaboration uses the material in Russell Athletic’s new CarbonTek football shoulder pad system. The aerospace-grade carbon fiber is strong, thin, light and durable, Boeing said. In football pads it also offers increased range of motion and secure fit for the athlete’s body.

Boeing says several “elite” college players from Division I universities will be wearing the CarbonTek during the upcoming football season, as well as Russell Athletic’s three pro football ambassadors: Pierre Garcon, Mark Ingram and Colt McCoy.

Southwest: From seat to soccer ball
After a large-scale interior redesign of many of its B737 aircraft, Southwest found itself with an excess of 80,000 leather seat covers — enough to fill the EmpireStateBuilding. “We had this idea of ‘could we do something with this leather beyond recycling it or shredding it? Could we repurpose it?'” says Marilee McInnis, the airline’s senior manager of culture and communications.

Southwest dubbed the initiative “Luv Seat: Repurpose with Purpose” and reached out to potential partners to take the used leather, but found that there were few takers. Read full article »