We all know that the airlines are in big trouble.
Back in '03, on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being very dire, aviation industry expert Darryl Jenkins ranked the health of the US airline industry about a 10-12.
And it hasn't gotten any better.
Picture the scene of what has surely happened:
The execs at United have gathered all their marketing folks and their agencies into a big room and said "come up with something to make people want to fly United. And once they do, let's be sure that they feel special."
All those brilliant minds whirling and working. The smoke practically billows from their ears. Then, suddenly someone gives a shout. They share their brainchild and like a heavenly choir, everyone in the room sings its praises.
And so, the red carpet is born. (This one was the carpet in LA that we were not invited to walk upon! And doesn't it look like they are proud of their own program? Nice, clean carpet eh?)
Yes…that's right. Now on every United flight, there are two walkways to the jetway. Divided by cloth retractabelts, there is the walkway for those not smart enough to always choose United or who are infrequent fliers. Then, just off to the side, is the holy grail. The red carpet. If you are flying first or business class you can stride onto the plane after first crossing over the United Red Carpet. (cue the crowd's ohhs and ahhs here)
Come on. A red carpet? (Which really, as Greg Verdino points out, is a door mat.) That is the best you can come up with?
You cannot put a bandaid on a broken leg. United's red carpet is a surface solution for a very deep problem. If all of their flights were not oversold, or they hadn't cut their schedules to bare bones or you didn't have to pack in your own pretzels, then sure…try the red carpet.
Think about your air travel experiences. Would walking on a red carpet make you feel valued? Or as Greg asks, would it just make you feel silly? The majority of United's passengers don't fly business or first class. So how do you suppose being reminded that they're the peasants who haven't earned the right to parade on the red carpet feel?
Where else have you seen companies put a bandaid on a broken limb?