US Airways wants to make the most out of a nauseating situation.
The Tempe, Ariz.-based airline plans to sell advertisements on its air-sickness bags — those pint-sized expandable envelopes tucked between the in-flight magazines and safety cards.
“They’re in every back seat pocket,” said spokesman Phil Gee. “We figure while it’s there, why don’t we make it multipurpose?”
Passengers should see the new, commercialized sickness bags in September, he said.
The ads are just the latest initiative the company has used to squeeze out a bigger profit.
America West, which merged with US Airways last year, had the first advertisements in the industry on tray tables, the first airline gift cards and the first in-flight meals for sale.
“Little things like that work,” said Michael Boyd, president of the Boyd Group, an aviation consulting group in Evergreen, Colo. “Barf bags have a lot of shelf life — people aren’t barfing as much in planes as they used to.”
The new bags drew a few chuckles among US Airways passengers at the company’s hub at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
“I would honestly pay no attention to an ad if I got sick,” said Nathan Vierra, 19, a student. “But hey, if skateboarders can sell ad space on their T-shirts, I guess why can’t an airline sell ads on barf bags?”
US Airways has not decided how much it will charge for the ads, and has only begun negotiating with companies that could be interested, Gee said.
The ads could be for anti-motion sickness medications or other products immediately on the mind of someone who reaches for one of the bags. But Gee said US Airways will look for a wide range of product advertisements to put on its bags.
Boyd said the trick for US Airways is to find ads that will make them a little cash without turning off customers.
“Some people don’t want the inside of their cabins to look like subway cars,” he said. “And the jury isn’t in on advertising on tray tables as a decent way to boost revenue.
“But having an advertisement for a barf bag, especially if it’s for something like Dramamine, now that’s brilliant.”