Marketing Dos and Don’ts for Airports and Planes

After two devastating years for the air travel industry, we are finally seeing a rebound. Many airports around the world closed almost completely, and instead of thousands of flights a day, many cities saw only a handful of planes take off and land.

The range of the bounce has been incredible, and in a few weeks, the planes that had been in a mothball ball were suddenly filled with passengers. While McKinsey says air travel will not reach pre-COVID-19 levels for a few more years, things are getting better for a struggling industry.

Passenger from the plane to the airport
Photo credit: Gustafo Fring / Pexels

Along with this increase in travel, marketing opportunities for companies in almost every industry are expanding. This is because airports are some of the busiest places in the world, and companies that want to create their own brands often see them as incredible opportunities for visibility.

But all this comes at a cost. Expert business leaders need to understand which types of marketing work and which do not offer a strong return on investment.


If you think about it, signs are one of the oldest forms of marketing in the world. Archaeologists have found commercial signs dating back to ancient Greece and Rome and for good reason: they work! And what better place to have signs than somewhere where millions of people will see them? That’s why companies invest so much in putting their logos and other information on airport terminals.

Not all signs are a big investment, but companies like the anti-spam company Barracuda created global brands by putting up signs at all major airports in the world.

Flight magazines

Airline passengers are literally a captive audience. They can’t go anywhere and are forced to stay in their seats for extended periods of time. In this environment, airline magazines left in the pockets of seats have always been a great way to distract travelers.

Most major airlines have their own publications and the quality is as good as any print magazine you will find in a newsstand. Unfortunately, the advent of free Wi-Fi and smartphones has made magazines less and less relevant over time. People may look at them from time to time, but the number of readers is so low that ROI may not be good enough to justify an ad purchase.

Airlines have recognized this and have migrated much of this content to applications that passengers can access in flight. Advertising on these digital platforms can be a better bet.

Businessman working on the plane

Payment programs

If you’ve been marketing for more than a month, you’ve probably received a phone call from a provider offering to offer your business on a TV show that will be shown on flights.

The sales pitch usually involves promising to put you in front of “millions of travelers” and having a celebrity interview your CEO. Don’t believe the hype. It’s basically glorified news, and no one in their right mind sits down and watches hours of paid interviews hosted by a B-list TV actor or a former professional athlete.

These programs aren’t exactly scams, but they’re not worth the tens of thousands of dollars that producers are asking for. It is also important to note that these programs are not produced by the airlines themselves, so there is not much brand credibility.


This is where branding at airports and planes can be interesting. It’s one thing for people to see your logo on the wall or in print, but it’s very different for them to take it home.

Marketing experts are constantly looking for ways to put articles in the hands of travelers, ranging from coffee cups to brochures and stickers. This is an area where creative marketers can run campaigns to create articles that travelers can take with them instead of throwing them away.


Airports are truly the nexus of the modern economy, and with the resurgence of travel, they are a prime opportunity for marketers to explore new ways to build their brands and stand out to a wide audience.

All it takes is a little creativity, as well as understanding what works and what doesn’t.

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