How to fix American’s annoying credit card pitch

If you’ve been on an American flight recently you’ve probably heard it.  “Ladies and gen” actually no that’s not right, it’s more like “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN WE HAVE A SUPER AMAZING OPPORTUNITY THAT YOU’LL LITERALLY NEVER HEAR ABOUT AGAIN WE CANNOT BELIEVE THEY ARE CRAZY ENOUGH TO GIVE AWAY THIS INSANE AMOUNT OF MILES OUR LEGS ARE NUMB AND WE ALL VOMITED UP HERE FROM HOW INCREDIBLE IT IS“.

Ok that’s a little extreme (not by as much as you’d think), but there are countless customers who are very annoyed by the credit card pitch from the flight attendants.

Over the weekend I flew back from NYC to my home in Dallas on the typical American domestic flight.  There was a bit of bad weather in the NYC area so the flight was a little longer than usual, almost four hours.  Everything was fine, most of the window shades were down and the cabin was dark, people were sleeping or watching movies.  Suddenly my movie stopped and I saw the “In-flight announcement” bar come across the screen.  The flight attendant began with “ladies and gentlemen there’s an hour left in our flight and I wanted to make you aware of a special opportunity…”

Within my view I could see at least 5 people woken up by this greedy loser and most of them didn’t go back to sleep.  I was angry but also embarrassed for the flight attendant, who didn’t realize how miserly he came across.  I actually stopped him as he came through the cabin and asked him if he really had to pick THAT time to give the credit card pitch since so many people were sleeping.  He didn’t really have a response for me but tried to apologize.  I refused his apology and told him to apologize to the lady wiping the sleep from her eyes sitting in the aisle seat next to him.  He quickly walked away.

If you want the video version of this, I put a video together for the YouTube channel (to which you should subscribe!):

 

What is so wrong with the pitch?  Why are you so annoyed?

Here’s a few of the many reasons:

  • In an age where in-flight service is at the most awful level in years we’re reminded that the flight attendants are there “primarily for our safety”.  Now “safety” apparently also includes marketing.
  • The flight attendants frequently use false information in their pitch.  As a miles and points (ish) blogger I can offer credit card affiliate links which would pay me similarly to what the flight attendants make.  If I start running affiliate links on my site there is a compliance team for every card issuer who will constantly check every word on my site to make sure I’m in compliance with credit card marketing regulations.  I get that the flight attendants are excited about earning money but if they’re going to market credit cards they need to abide by the same rules as everyone else.
  • The pitch turns paying customers into marketing collateral.  It is the pure definition of a captive audience.  If Facebook wants to use my information to market at me I get that, I’m getting something for free from them (making me their product, not their customer).  I paid for my seat on that flight, how dare American use that opportunity to make me a product, I am a customer.
  • Some (definitely not all) flight attendants are doing the pitch at disruptive times on purpose.  They are purposely disrupting the in-flight experience.
  • Customers are now used to ignoring in-flight announcements!

Why are flight attendants getting so nuts about the miserly credit card pitch?

Simple: flight attendants are paid $50-60 per approved application.

Why doesn’t American stop the loser greedy credit card pitch?

This is super simple as well: American flight attendants can make more money and American isn’t paying it.  That’s about the most perfect scenario imaginable for American, who is in an ever-tenuous relationship with the flight attendant unions.

Ok if it isn’t going away how can we fix it?

If we have to hear a stupid loser credit card pitch let’s hear it when there’s already cabin activity and other announcements!

The beginning of the flight (basically from boarding through the conclusion of the first beverage service) is a great time for the loser credit card pitch because flight attendants are already in the cabin and people are usually still awake.  We’re also expecting to hear announcements during this time.

The end of the flight (from the point that the flight deck announces the initial descent until you’re at the gate) is another time for the ridiculous inaccurate credit card pitch.  There are other announcements being made and flight attendants are already walking through the cabin to pick up trash etc.

Leave the middle of the flight to your customers.

American is perfectly within its rights to limit the windows during which the flight attendants can make their stupid marketing pitch.  What a cool opportunity for American to stick up for their customers’ in-flight experience and make everything at least more consistent.  I’ve personally reached out to American expressing this idea and I’ve also reached out to Barclays to promise I will never sign up for their card if nothing changes.

At the end of the day the credit card pitch is not going away.  American has greedily chosen to view their paying customers as wallets, nothing more.  Flight attendants can say whatever they want without repercussion.  Judging from how surprised and speechless the flight attendant was when I (politely and respectfully) confronted him I imagine that doesn’t happen very often, but if you are going to follow in my footsteps and bring it up with a flight attendant I cannot emphasize enough that you better be polite and respectful.  American can fix the credit card madness though.  It is literally the least they can do for their paying customers, let’s see if they think we’re worth it.

7 Comments

  1. You demand that the flight attendants be “polite and respectful” yet proudly recount how you “refused his apology and told him to apologize to the lady wiping the sleep from her eyes sitting in the aisle seat next to him”? Maybe you should follow your own advice.

    Reply
    • Hi Ben,

      I meant that if you choose to talk to flight attendants about the timing of their announcement that you should be polite and respectful to them. Although I was stern with the flight attendant I was as polite and respectful as possible. Worst case scenario in a situation like that is for the flight attendant to feel threatened in any way and I’m very confident that he did not feel threatened.

      Reply
      • Refusing someone’s apology is not “as polite and respectful as possible.” It’s rude and disrespectful.

        I’ll also note that you refer to the FA in this post as a “greedy loser”, which–again–is neither polite nor respectful.

        Reply
        • There is a polite way to have a conversation with someone and an impolite way. You can refuse an apology in a polite and respectful way.

          That said, I believe the mindset to interrupt the sleep of passengers so you can possibly get money from them is indeed a greedy and loser mindset. The flight attendants provided great service throughout the flight.

          Reply
  2. +1 they are driving me crazy these days with the announcements and agree they are doing so at inconvenient times (when 80% of plan is sleeping, etc).

    Reply
  3. Funny how the credit card bloggers complain the loudest….about people pitching credit cards!

    Reply
    • I’m in that space definitely but do not actively push credit card referral links (I know some of the ads are from card providers though), I see your point though.

      Reply

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