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Newsletter #896: The “Ideas from Airlines” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Sure, we’ve all been frustrated by airlines. There are certainly plenty of cracks, flaws, and opportunities for improvement in the industry.

But it’s also home to a lot of innovation, competition, and clever marketing. Here are just a few ideas you could borrow:

1. Anticipate the problems
2. Look for great partners everywhere
3. Do something crazy once in a while
4. Check it out: Plane Finder

1. Anticipate the problems

If you get that sinking feeling when a young child sits near you on a long flight, you’re not alone. And while every airline knows it, British Airways is one of the few to proactively do something about it. Through their “Feed Families First” policy, they make sure kids get their meals early. This keeps the kids happy and content — and that means a more peaceful and comfortable cabin for everyone.

The lesson: What are the most common complaints your customers have? What simple changes could you try to make things better?

Learn more: CNN

2. Look for great partners everywhere

Great partnerships can make for great marketing — and the best ones usually cross industries in unexpected ways. On Virgin Airlines, for example, you’ll soon see flight attendants in more modern, fashionable attire thanks to a partnership with Banana Republic. And the new line won’t be limited to just flight attendants — passengers will have the chance to buy pieces of the outfits as well. Partnerships like these make for win-wins: Virgin gets an upgraded look, and Banana Republic gets a ton of exposure for their apparel.

The lesson: What great asset could you offer to a potential partner to create something great for the two of you?

Learn more: USA TODAY

3. Do something crazy once in a while

Every once in a while, do something outrageous, unexpected, goofy, fun, or crazy. It keeps them on their toes, and it’s something JetBlue does fantastically. For a while, they sold “all you can fly” passes. They have an entire Twitter handle (@JetBlueCheeps) dedicated to special sales. And during last summer’s Carmageddon in L.A. (when the city shut down I-405 for a weekend of construction), they offered $4 flights from Burbank to Long Beach as an alternative to driving. It wasn’t very practical — the flight itself lasted only 20 minutes — but that wasn’t the point. It was a great way to meet new customers, and it was so remarkable that it crashed their website for a few minutes.

The lesson: Little stunts like this are how you keep giving your fans new and exciting reasons to talk about you.

Learn more: Los Angeles Times

4. Check it out: Plane Finder

Plane Finder is fascinating. Through it, you can see the real-time location, airline, and route of thousands of planes that are in the air right now.

Check it out: Plane Finder

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