US Airways offers passengers free branded snack boxes on domestic flights | July 4, 2011

With advertising budgets under pressure and traditional mass advertising losing its effectiveness, advertisers are looking for new ways to reach consumers. At the same time many airlines have begun charging for services that used to be included in the price of the ticket. One solution for airlines that want to cut cost, but maintain their service level, is to team up with advertisers to offer amenities such as in-flight Wi-Fi or Starbucks coffee for free.

US Airways
The latest initiative comes from Air Advertainment, a marketing company that sells snack boxes to advertisers and gives them to airlines to distribute to passengers for free. Air Advertainment today announced it has signed a marketing partnership agreement with US Airways to offer its branded snack boxes on the US Airways Shuttle between Boston Logan International, New York LaGuardia and Washington D.C. Regan National airports, from July 1st on. In November 2010, US Airways Shuttle and Air Advertainment already tested the concept on several flights, with Embassy Suites Hotels picking up the bill.

The branded snack boxes are sponsored by, an online U.S. retailer that stages online ‘flash’ sales, offering luxury goods at discounted prices in a limited-time sale format, typically 36 to 48 hours. Membership can be requested at the website, but otherwise it is by invitation only. Gilt has also partnered with in-flight WiFi provider Gogo to offer flash sales at 35,000 feet. From July 1st, all Gogo-equipped Delta, United, Virgin America, Alaska Airlines and US Airways aircraft will provide free access to the Guilt site.  To further entice customers Gilt is offering exclusive in-air deals.

Horizon Air
In June 2010, Air Advertainment launched its first campaign on Horizon Air flights between Seattle and Portland (images of the campaign here). The branded snack box contained a bag of pretzels, chips and a chocolate, and was sponsored by Creative Labs. The electronics company was using the new ‘snackvertising’ medium to promote a Facebook contest to name its new HD video camera. Flight attendants alerted passengers on board that their meals were complimentary of Creative Labs and 25,000 boxes were distributed for 20 days on the route.

Air Advertainment’s sponsored catering concept seems to be a welcome solution for all parties involved. Passengers receive a complimentary snack, airlines are able to provide it at no cost, and the advertiser has the ability to connect with the public in a meaningful way. Furthermore, advertisers can sponsor the snack box on routes they choose.