I am in marketing, fly a lot and have a skewed sense of humor. So of course Virgin America’s new campaign cracks me up. The sarcastic creatives behind it have perfectly satired the bland flying experience and lousy customer service that’s pervasive in the uninspired airline industry and have delivered it in the boring package that is BLAH Airlines.
You will get there. — BLAH Airlines
The name says it all. — Connie C., 54. Payallup, Washington
BLAH AIRLINES DESIGN
Of course beige is the brand’s color scheme: that’s a no-brainer. But that font selection is pure genius — awful enough to offend, but it’s not overly offensive. I’ll bet valuable BLAH Airlines miles (that can be redeemed for earphones that work) that the marketers behind this graphic travesty debated long and hard over the just-right so-wrong-it’s-right typography.
And about the layout of the logo. It’s not good. Again, the team successfully managed to balance off-putting with not quite over-the-top-off-putting that would trespass beyond the realm of belief.
it’s such a fine line between stupid and clever. — David St. Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel, Spinal Tap
And a lot of thought went into creating a website that looks like not a lot of thought went into creating the website. With BLAHairlines.com’s grid paper background, mixed fonts (some with shadows — always a good look), amateur graphics and grainy photos it succeeds in exemplifying the company’s commitment to mediocrity while simultaneously calling out the cookie cutter website design of nearly every airline.
BLAH AIRLINES AMENITIES
BLAH Airlines provides an array of amenities (proudly identified by #travelperks on Twitter) including (but not limited to): rear-mounted magazine pouches; complimentary peanuts (which come free, they add); drinks, sodas, and other liquids; and “entertainment” (their quotes, not mine). One might think that the marketers are going a tad bit overboard here, except I had the misfortune to fly not only Ryanair but EasyJet recently, and neither offered the luxury of rear-mounted magazine pouches; complimentary peanuts (provided free); drinks, sodas or other liquids (at no cost); nor “entertainment”.
The (BLAH Airlines) windows can be opened or closed. — Gwen G., 68. Phoenix, Arizona
BLAH AIRLINES PERKS
Has BLAH Airlines got perks? You bet!
For one, BLAH Airlines passengers are afforded the opportunity to buy Air Junk™ from the Air Junk™ catalogue, which offers such practical must-haves as bulk lint, a rubber band, a red brick and a paper cup. Some loyal passengers are appreciative, yet more hard-to-please flyers have expressed (through social media outlets) an unfilled need for hair picks, executive beige bricks, and bags of cat hair.
You can’t please all of the people all of the time. — Abraham Lincoln
And speaking of fiber, per a Facebook announcement yesterday: you can also buy Stool on BLAH Airlines. A wooden stool that is, for passengers who want to take the comfort of their seat home with them.
I envision the Virgin America popular kids (the Marketing department) behind this campaign collapsed over a conference table in a hip, glass-walled room laughing themselves to tears over the mundacity of “bulk lint”. They’ve got a fun job, those marketers.
You might be thinking to yourself that those very marketers have finally jumped the shark with their ridiculous Air Junk™ offerings until, like me, you are forced to rifle through a stained SkyMall magazine between O’Hare and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and discover that this real-world shopping magazine makes available items as ordinary as 7-Watt Replacement Bulbs, Toilet Locks, Compression Socks, Gutter Zap Cleaning Spray and Night Bunion Regulators (great name for a band, though). Suddenly “bulk lint” doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
Shopping aside, other BLAH Airlines perks include free cups with every decaffeinated coffee order (limit one per customer, per flight), the BLAH Airlines Beige Credit Card ($450 quarterly fee) and pay phones at their terminals. The psuedoperks are funny because they’re grounded in reality. At the risk of sounding like Jerry Seinfeld, what’s with airlines no longer offering free meals on domestic flights, having to book award travel 331 days in advance, and the lack of in-seat power outlets on most major carriers (except, ahem, Virgin America)?
BLAH AIRLINES CUSTOMER SERVICE
Like marketing, retail sales, and running a public aviation company, customer service isn’t BLAH Airlines’ strong suit.
We don’t care. We don’t have to. — The Phone Company
Customers are advised to contact BLAH Airlines over the telephone, via fax machine (they’re very fond of faxing over there at BLAH) or by sending them an email.
We may not respond, but you can always contact us via fax, phone, or email. — BLAH Airlines on Twitter
Customers calling BLAH will reach a robotic sounding, slightly-garbled and inarticulate automated attendant:
Thank you for calling BLAH Airlines. To ensure that we are best able to serve you, we will give you some options for you to pick. Please listen closely to our menu of options as they may have shifted even though they probably have not changed in years.
Customers seeking arrival or departure status information are told that their flight is delayed, those wanting nutrition information on BLAH peanuts will hear a detailed dietary breakdown for both the salted and unsalted varieties, and anyone curious as to the in-flight entertainment will learn that Gary Giggles (a baby who can talk) will be shown on longer legs. Anyone hoping to reach a human is SOL.
Not big on phones myself, I e-mailed BLAH Airlines requesting use of their photos in this post. My inquiry was met with the following reply:
You are receiving this automated electronic mail because you contacted BLAH Airlines with a comment, question, or suggestion. We acknowledge your input but are not responding to individual communications at this time. For a more personalized experience, please refer to our Response Matrix below.
Yours in transit,
BLAH Airlines, Consumer Interaction Division
“You will get there”
The Response Matrix displayed a chart offering canned replies depending on whether the email is a comment, question or suggestion and is positive neutral or negative.
If all else fails, customers are invited to chat live with Sheri, who suspiciously resembles a mannequin (with bad teeth and lockjaw).
Sheri: Welcome to BLAH, sir or ma’am!
Me: Hi, Sheri
Sheri: I didn’t realize that is how you felt about that.
Me: Sheri, I forgot my diamond tiara on the plane
Sheri: Okay, let’s go back.
Me: Back where?
Sheri: You’re going to love our peanuts.
This parody is not that far off-the-mark from the real thing. Gary Giggles sounds execrable but a quick search of current online entertainment offerings on major airlines includes such Oscar contenders as the Sandler/Barrymore hit (to use the word loosely) Blended, Godzilla (yes, there’s a 2014 version) and endless episodes of The Big Bang Theory, which is admittedly entertaining. Until the fourth consecutive episode.
And we’ve all been sucked into a hellish automated attendant vortex in which our punched-in responses deliver us to an endless loop of repeating options, our pointer finger eventually bruised from stabbing wildly at the keypad through a film of tears. Who among us has not flipped-off our phone as an automated attendant failed to recognize our verbal “DE – PAR – TURES” directive after multiple, clearly enunciated attempts? Then hated ourself afterwards for being reduced to profaning a computer.
Should a person have the good fortune of reaching a live, breathing, agent, good luck booking flights with Miles (you’d reserve them online if you could, but the options are neither visible nor bookable on the airline’s website). Just as often as not you will be rushed through your award flight inquiries by an impatient agent who clearly can’t wait to discontinue the conversation. Only to then engage in a similar conversation and another and another ad infinitum. If customer service isn’t a person’s “thing” I can respect that, but maybe in that case don’t go into customer service?
AND IN CONCLUSION
And in conclusion… Despite all my complaining I still love to fly. I’m STILL thrilled every time I pull down the window shade, pop my Ambien, recline the seat, and position my leopard-print eye pillow knowing that in sixteen hours I’ll land on the other side of the world. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD. How fortunate I am to be living in an era where continent hopping is possible, and to possess the means to do so. Crappy peanuts, blasé service, and bulk lint? It could be worse.
Thanks, BLAH Airlines, for taking from the place where I was to the place I am going. I know I will get there!
If you haven’t flown for awhile and have forgotten just how luxurious and sexy air travel can be, fly BLAH Airlines virtually here.