United’s wheel of fortune

Posted by admin on August 10, 2009

I didn’t know about this until it was pointed out to me yesterday (thanks to @derekwhit and @melissaiscool on Twitter), but it seems that for the last couple of months, United Airlines has set up a ’spin the wheel’ setup at key airports. More after these pictures from FlyerTalk:
Apparently, you can spin the wheel and claim your ‘prize’, which is either one of United’s new “Travel Options” or a promotional item:

  • An Economy Plus upgrade for all of your flights that day
  • a Premier Line pass (you get to use United’s Premier check-in and security lines as well as priority boarding)
  • A Red Carpet Club pass (clever clever – they won’t actually give you a pass, but instead stamp your boarding pass – that way you can’t sell the pass)
  • A ‘game book’ (crosswords and Sudoku puzzles)
  • A bottle of water
  • Playing cards – this one surprised me; I thought that the days of airline playing cards were long over.
  • There’s also a “luggage tag” event, where United laminates one of your business cards and on the back throws in a promotional Economy Plus message.

Judging by the wheel, the most likely option that you’ll land on is Economy Plus. People might be asking why United would give away more seat upgrades than bottles of water, but it all comes down to price – if there are available Economy Plus seats available for a flight, the cost to United to give it away is nothing.

At first, I thought that this ’spin the wheel’ was kind of dumb – after all, it’s nothing more than giving away a few cheap freebies and promoting the various ways that United can take more of your money. And it really only benefits existing United customers (after all, someone traveling on American isn’t going to be able to take advantage of the game, unless they win a bottle of water). But I had a change of heart, and now I think that this could be one of United’s rare good marketing ideas. United isn’t focusing on passengers on other airlines; nor is it focusing on its highly-valued “elite” travelers, who probably already have those benefits. Instead, United’s targeting the casual flier by giving them a ‘free sample’ of one of their Travel Options, with the hope that they’ll ‘upgrade’ more often. The cost to them is very little (giving away an otherwise vacant Economy Plus seat, letting another person into the Red Carpet Club, etc.), but if it convinces a good number of passengers to start upgrading their Travel Options more frequently, it would be a marketing accomplishment that United could be proud of.

Add A Comment

Warning: require_once(/homepages/1/d381119664/htdocs/flightrank.com/blog/wp-content/themes/aerodyne/aerodyne/footer.php) [function.require-once]: failed to open stream: Permission denied in /homepages/1/d381119664/htdocs/flightrank.com/blog/wp-includes/theme.php on line 843