While the sharp minds among us know to take their news on April 1st with more than a healthy dose of scepticism, this didn’t stop airlines from partaking in a little April Fools’ Day tomfoolery. This year unveiled evermore scheming attempts by the world’s airlines to pass off outrageous announcements as factual, taking advantage of social media and professional video campaigns to instil a fleeting sense of credibility along the way. Although the absurdity of many messages had them exposed before you had a chance to say ‘April Fools’ – others, perhaps, hid a more real dimension of possible changes in store for the airline industry.
One of the most notable, yet oddly recurring spoofs came from the Chinese carrier, Spring Airlines. Precisely, the carrier announced its intentions to launch ‘Weigh-and-Pay’ flights, offering lower fares for slimmer passengers while fixing harsher penalties for those bringing a larger load onboard. However discriminatory and preposterous it may seem, the idea has actually been under discussion for a number of years with many citing its practicality in airline business models.
‘Indeed, the concept draws similarities with that which Air New Zealand presented for the occasion last year. Noting the economizing drives of many airlines, the carrier announced it would be introducing special standing sections on its aircraft, making use of public transportation style grip handles. The new ‘StraightUp’ fare would be designed to increase the airline’s capacity while offering heavy discounts for those who can, as they claim, stand it. Despite its ludicrous intentions, the concept has been raised on more than a few occasions by Ryanair’s outspoken boss. Whether the approvals would ever be granted for the idea to come to fruition, well that’s another matter,’ comments the CEO of AviationCV.com, Skaiste Knyzaite.
Making light of the grievances held by passengers stuck in the middle seat of its flights, Delta released a statement that it would be introducing the ‘Double Decker Armrest’. The idea was relatively simple, affording more arm space and less elbow rubbing. Although later exposed for the spoof it was, curiously the concept attracted more than a meagre share of positive interest. SAS didn’t shy away either from the retrofitting tomfoolery, releasing an image of an overhead panel now sporting a newly introduced Facebook-style ‘Like’ button adjacent to that for the passenger’s reading light. An incentive for even better service, perhaps?
Stretching beyond the boundaries of plausibility, the Canadian carrier Westjet announced it would be cutting its restrictions on the carriage of animals onboard. Quite heavily in fact, as their professionally executed video campaign showed. So long as the animals can fit safely onboard, the concession would be extended not just to cats and dogs, but the carriage of monkeys and alligators too. If that wasn’t enough, Virgin Atlantic announced its intentions to have transparent cabin floors progressively fitted to its fleet. Alongside some attractive marketing shots, the release proclaimed the ‘panoramic’ -if fundamentally flawed- benefits of the new and approved design.
Other amusing examples came from Norwegian, who announced the decision to change the signature red colour of their jets to a brighter yellow, reinforcing the idea with a clever use of Photoshop. Southwest Airlines also joined in on the fun, claiming that it would be introducing hot air balloons as the newest addition to its fleet, while another US-based carrier, jetBlue, announced the debut of services to obscure and isolated locations half-way across the world.
Leaving a final thought, S. Knyzaite, CEO of AviationCV.com asserts, ‘Such a creative spark once per year brings a nice break from regular airline reporting. With pilots being furloughed or having ever stronger demands placed on them in terms of working hours, duty rest and remuneration, it all starts to become a bit onerous. After all - as any pilot will tell you, humour is an essential element you need in the career.’