Can An Airline Build Brand Loyalty Through Being Nice To Kids? Yes!

Web: — E-Mail:

11/08/2009 – Can An Airline Build Brand Loyalty Through Being Nice To Kids? Yes!

This post is less about the business of how airlines perform targeted marketing and more about how an airline is covering its bases to start their branding young.

Years ago when I was a kid, airlines gave us ‘little flyers’ wings and playing cards. Delta Air Lines used to hand out little white plastic L-1011 planes. The planes had “Delta Air Lines” on the wings in blue, eventually the words “Delta Air Lines” were embossed into the plastic…and then the planes and the wings went away.

Fast-forward to many years later and witness that virtually no airlines cater to kids any longer. From childhood through late 2006 my primary airline of choice was Delta Air Lines, in just the last two years they were my primary airline I flew just over 400,000 miles with Delta. Subconsciously maybe I was drawn to Delta because of my collection of little white L-1011s and wings.

Back in 2003 my daughter Lauren received a backpack and sunglasses from Virgin Atlantic. Her brother Max now uses the backpack and wears the sunglasses. My kids can associate the sunglasses with a toy Virgin Atlantic plane used by their baby brother, Bubba, and know the glasses came from the airline.

Over the past few years my kids have racked up some items from Southwest Airlines. For the past year one of my son Max has slept with an inflatable Southwest Airlines’ 737 hanging over his bed. Max has also been using an old orange Southwest Airlines lunch box for pre-school.

As Max heads off to Kindergarten in a few weeks I commented to the folks at Southwest Airline that he was upset he couldn’t take his tattered Southwest lunch box to kindergarten. Most airlines would shrug such a comment off, heck most airlines would have never handed out lunch boxes as prizes during a “your flight is late trivia contest,” but what Southwest Airlines did was not only nice, but will help cement a young travellers loyalty to their airline.

The morning after I commented on Max being upset by not being able to bring his Southwest Airlines lunch box to kindergarten a FedEx package arrived for him and his brother. What was in the FedEx? Two metal lunch boxes from Southwest Airlines.

I am sure Southwest Airline’s emerging media team, specifically Christi Day who is the airlines’ “Twitter Voice,” was just being a genuinely nice person (and by all accounts she is), but her actions also set into motion the furthering of one little boys association with Southwest Airlines, the planes, the brand and why he’s excited when he sees them fly overhead.

Airlines obviously need to cater to their business travellers and high yield passengers, however catering to kids and making kids happy should not be overlooked. Delta’s little toy planes from my trips on them as a kid likely caused me to rack up more than 400,000 miles in just two years.

Below are a few photos of Max & Bubba’s package from Southwest Airlines and Max ripping into the box to pull out his new lunch box.

Happy Flying!

swa_lunchbox_x02 swa_lunchbox_x03

swa_lunchbox_x04 swa_lunchbox_x05



  1. Though we tweeted about this earlier in the week, I still think this is just outstanding. I love the look on Max’s face tearing into the package and finding his treasure.

    I, too, had some of the DAL wings and a few L-1011s (still one of my favorite aircraft of all time). Your blog today brought back some very pleasant memories of flights past.

    Many thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  2. Paula,

    On the first day of Kindergarten I’m sure you and Christi will get a photo Max packing his loaded lunch box.

    One night when he goes to sleep I need to shoot a photo of the inflatable SWA 737 hung over Max’s bed (along with a Thomas The Tank Engine pinata)

    Thanks again, you really made Max’s week (and put a huge smile on his face for his coming first day in Kindergarten)!!!!

    Happy Flying!


  3. I had never thought about it before but the treatment I got as a kid on Delta is probably a major part of the reason that I’m a PM with Delta at the moment.

    I remember Delta Shuttle playing cards (still have ’em), the wings, trips to the cockpit & a get together that I went to in elementary school @ MCO. We got to tour all of the planes that were parked there during the day (L1011, 767 & 757) we got to play in the cockpits, got to go to the lower galley on the L1011 we were EVEN Invited into the control tower and I got to change one of the gate display systems.

    Wish that more airlines would remember this as it builds brand loyalty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.