The Disaster of the American Airlines AAirpass

Unlimited first-class travel for life — how could this backfire…?

Jamie Logie
Counter Arts

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Photo by Ross Sokolovski on Unsplash

There have been some pretty horrendous promotional campaigns over the years.

A few that come to mind are the infamous “Ten cent beer night” in Cleveland, The Kendall Jenner Pepsi TV spot, and “Hoovergate,” which was a free flight promotion by the vacuum company that ended up costing them millions.

Speaking of air travel, does American Airlines take the cake for the worst marketing promotion with their AAirpass? And no, that’s not a typo on AAirpass. This is a look back at how free first-class flights for life became a nightmare for the airline and how just a few people cost them millions per year.

What Was AAirpass?

American created this program in 1981 and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a one-time fee and then first-class travel for the rest of your life. And that includes anywhere in the world American flew.

This was a membership program, and it wasn’t cheap: it cost $250,000. But that meant you could head off wherever you wanted in the world, anytime you wanted, and as often as you wish.

There was also the option to buy an add-on companion cost for another $150,000. And for some reason…

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Jamie Logie
Counter Arts

Some health, a little marketing, and a lot of 1980s content