What I Would Do If I Ran Independence Air’s Marketing

United is bringing out the big guns in DC in anticipation of Independence Air’s launch. They’re running huge promos like their Round-the-World promo and 15,000 bonus miles. They’re sending out e-mail hit pieces to their membership. And all Independence Air has done is complain to the government.


I walk into bars and hear people talking about United’s round the world promo. It has an incredible aspirational value that gets average folks talking, and that’s without my being in the conversation at all.


I wonder what Independence Air is paying to be the official airline of the Redskins. That’ll get some notice, but it’s pretty ephemeral.


They need to offer a clear value proposition and hammer that value proposition home.

  • Always low fares on brand new jets
  • The most flights out of Dulles, taking you where you want when you want

Then I’d add real changes to their frequent flyer program. I’d offer a redemption option for things like metro cards or dinner at local well-known restaurants. I’d make them a real hometown airline, since all of their flights so far begin or end at Dulles. I’d also give an online booking bonus to the person making travel arrangements, which isn’t necessarily the traveler.


And I’d add elite status with an elite security line (desperately needed at Dulles), some sort of discount parking that makes valet service the same price as long-term parking, and complimentary lounge access. (They used to operate a free lounge for United 1Ks and Premier Executives.) This status would make members real “Dulles Elites.” I’d tack on free drinks onboard and have flight attendants thank elites for their business on every flight. A little bit of recognition goes a long way. Oh, and I’d offer an elite status match to United’s elites in the DC area.


I would advertise on the metro and in the Washington Post’s “Express.” I’d also give away the free Express paper in the boarding area. “Our Flights Are So Quick And Efficient You Wouldn’t Have Time to Read the Whole Paper.”


The James Carville voiceovers are pretty good, but I think there message is a bit off. And I’d do it on radio rather than TV… and have him be more in his own character, identify himself at the beginning of the ad rather than the end…

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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