Sign of Airline Desperation: In Flight Air Time for Sale

Get a load of this e-mail I received from a CNN affiliate selling air time on American Airlines flights. And consider further that this was sent to my day-job e-mail address, which is, to put it mildly, not very easy to find (ie, I don’t subscribe to small business or consulting publications that would put my business on any sort of mailing list). The creativity in monetizing airline services knows no bounds.

Now it isn’t clear how the economics work (as in who gets what), but one might assume that the marketing and production costs are borne by CNN and American gets paid a set rate for its airtime (if I were American, that’s the deal I’d want)

The punch line is at the very end:

I’m contacting you on behalf of Sky Radio and Video Network and I’m pleased to announce an exciting new partnership with CNN Airport Network.

For the month of December, we will be producing our Best of Breed: Industry Innovators segment, which will be broadcast exclusively throughout the CNN Airport Network and on the American Airlines “Business and Technology Report” In-Flight Radio Channel. This program focuses on innovative companies, both large and small, from a variety of industries.

We invite you to participate and share your story with our captive audience of millions of executive business travelers — decision makers, early adopters, and influencers with a high household income. Our production team will produce a one-on-one radio interview to air on American Airlines and the content will be extended in a video commercial to air on the CNN Airport Network.

CNN’s Airport network has a total audience of nearly 16 million viewers per month with an average household income of $104,157. Our video programs play at 43 of the busiest airports and 2,000 of the busiest gates in the United States during the CNN broadcast. To view a sample clip, visit

The audio interviews play on 29,000 audio-equipped American Airlines worldwide flights reaching approximately 4.2 million travelers during December 2008. To hear recent audio interviews, click on

Your participation includes:

1. Production/placement of 2+ minute interview to air worldwide throughout December 2008 on 29,000 American Airlines flights reaching 4.2 million.
2. Program listing in American’s ON in-flight publication (176,000 monthly copies).
3. Production/placement of a 30-second commercial to air once daily Monday, Wednesday and Friday during prime time 5pm-8pm on the CNN Airport Network for 4 consecutive weeks.
4. Production of CNN commercial includes using still photos, logos, graphics and voice over talent and any existing b-roll footage you may have.
5. Rebroadcast on with hotlink to your website for one year.
6. Re-usage rights for promotional purposes.
7. Right to use “As heard on… ” logos for airing on your site.
8. All production including scripting, recording, editing, mastering and delivery.
9. Introductory special rate for all of the above: $6,995

Space is limited and our recording deadline is September 17th.

Please call or email me if you’re interested or have any questions.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. JP

    This is not new. Video companies have been hawking airtime on “entrepreneurial” segments on airplanes for at least 3 years, which is when I got my first solicitation. (“Share airtime with Alexander Haig!” … I wonder what his cut was.)

  2. Yves Smith

    Yes, but the point here is twofold:

    1. Involvement of CNN, which gives this an air of respectability that it does not deserve. The language suggests this is interspersed with the regular CNN broadcast. The links clearly suggest that this is an established practice, but the flip side is the December promotion indicates they may be selling more airtime (ie changing the mix of infotainement to real news)

    2. The fact that they found me suggests a certain amount of desperation. I use my business website as an alternative to a print brochure. For the type of consulting I do, I am not going to get hired via someone finding the consulting website over the Internet. Therefore, that site is neither well linked nor well indexed. Similarly, I don’t subscribe to anything in print or over the Internet that would single that e-mail address as being associated with a small business owner/professional.

  3. Anonymous

    Oh, I see.

    IOUSA is not going to hell in a hand basket, its going to hell in an advertisment at 30,000 feet.


  4. Anonymous

    “Our video programs play at 43 of the busiest airports and 2,000 of the busiest gates in the United States during the CNN broadcast.”

    So I’ve noticed. Although it takes a little extra effort, one can usually find a quiet place to sit away from the flashing colored screens and squawking drone of CNN’s mindless pap.

    Probably a lot of potential customers in prisons and mental institutions are absorbing every word, though.

  5. JP

    If CNN is involved (ie, more than distribution), then I'm impressed. Things are indeed worse.

    The guy that pitched me by phone was from, which claims to be associated with CNBC & Fox. It took me a minute or two to figure out that I was in fact being pitched, because they start out by sending you a "assistant producer" to see if you're a good fit to their segments. Once I figured out that he didn't know a thing about video editing or production, I realized he was just a mislabeled salesman.

    BTW, it was a great pitch. He had me completely convinced that I was being screened for an in-flight CNBC segment for at least two minutes. Or perhaps I'm just gullible. :)

  6. Anonymous

    Recently flew on USAIR and they had the pilot pitch their credit card in a twisted folksy way for over ten annoying minutes. He’d go “shucks I know you don’t need another card but…”.

    Here I am, flying into Orange County, Ca, the heart of debt laden misery and they’re pitching more debt.

  7. Anonymous

    They have been trying to “feature” my company on the in-flight radio channel and TV program since 1995, and the airport stuff for the past 6-7 years. Always in conjunction with a famous name or impressive brand. Quoted price was about $30K. I am annoyed yet amazed at their creativity and persistence in finding and reaching me.

Comments are closed.