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US Airways to Put Ads on Tickets

It seems like such a minor thing, putting an ad on an airline ticket. In some ways, it’s a pretty obvious choice: Airlines have a highly targeted market (travelers) carrying a crucial document (their tickets) they will continually examine, check, and confirm is still in their possession. Stick an ad on there, airlines, it’s a match made in heaven!

US Airways is the latest carrier to put ads on its tickets, with promos from Starbucks and REI, among others. Delta, Southwest, and Spirit also include ads on their tickets.

The catch, though, is that only US Airways passengers who check in online will receive tickets with ads on them, meaning US Airways is effectively passing along the cost of printing its ads. Maybe that’s not a big deal, considering customers would be printing their boarding passes anyway, but I think it’s still kind of sneaky. Travelers can opt to print an ad-free version of their ticket, but the airline says most customers so far have printed boarding passes with the ads.

To its credit, US Airways says it has resisted what it considers more intrusive forms of advertising, such as ads plastered on overhead bin doors. But the trend of advertising on tickets and in planes is nevertheless growing, reflecting an industry struggling to find and maintain new revenue streams in a challenging economy.

Readers, what do you think about US Airways’ decision? Do you feel any sort of advertising—whether it’s on tray tables, overhead bins, or tickets—is intrusive, especially when you’ve paid for your seat? Or are you simply concerned with getting from point A to point B, ads or no ads? Leave a comment below with your thoughts. Thanks!

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