Spirit Brings Ads to Overhead Bins, Bulkheads, and More

To be honest, I’m really surprised that it took this long for an airline to do this, but if anyone was going to take the plunge, it’s Spirit. The airline has decided that it’s time to plaster aircraft interiors with advertising. Welcome to the subway in the sky.

Spirit Onboard Advertising

From what I can gather, Spirit will now sell ads on overhead bins, seat backs, tray tables, the area above the windows, bulkheads, napkins, cups, menus, boarding passes, soap dispensers, and yes, even trash bags. And if you can suggest another place to put it, I have no doubt that they will.

The benefit to passengers is clear. More ad revenue means that the airline can make money on lower fares (though check out today’s post on BNET for a little more on their profitability). As long as you’re willing to endure ads everywhere, this can benefit you. And really, Spirit is the right airline to do this.

But what about for advertisers? It cracks me up the way Spirit sells onboard advertising in the press release. “Why pay for a five-second gaze time on a billboard when you have more than 2,000 times the viewing exposure aboard a three-hour flight?” Yes! I’m in. I think it’s time to revisit my original Skybus plan . . .

07_04_11 Skybusads
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25 Comments on "Spirit Brings Ads to Overhead Bins, Bulkheads, and More"

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Great move if they can find advertisers for all of that.


Hmmm… There’s an intangible cost to these ads which includes passengers getting the impression they’re riding in a traveling billboard. Let’s face it. The impression a plane covered in advertisements gives is not one of safety and security.

Sure, any space is potential ad space, but I think this just gives marketing departments at the competition the ability to differentiate themselves further. Think of all the great ads the Southwest team could come up with.

My question is, is the advertising revenue a function of load factor, or is it a base rate?


Ha! Here in Europe Ryanair (no frills, no fun airline) already do that.

Take it from me that you should be very concerned as it’s the thin end of the wedge…

As you wait for the plane to take off Ryanair also plays adverts (albeit for its own products) over the PA. And in case that weren’t bad enough they are over a repetitious and deeply annoying tune.

I have vowed only to fly with frills from now on.

Jeff K

Interesting to see what type of advertising is allowed and what isn’t ?

No matter what I think someone is going to be offended sooner or later and want to switch seats.

Too bad that can’t have a way to purchase what is on the advertising right then and there to take advantage of the fresh impulse.


CF, nothing personal, but all those pictures of you, scare me.

I have to admit, it’s better than Pepto Bismol ads on US tray tables.

I agree with Court. Its tacky and I hate it. I don’t even like the slideshow ads on seat back IFE screens and immediately darken them. When I fly I enjoy stuffing in the earplugs, reading, and periodically glancing out the window. Not that ads would stop me from doing that, but I guess I prefer the sickly looking gray/yellow plain panels and bulkheads as opposed “livening” them up with ads. Saiding that, to speculate, it seems the thing the airline(s) are missing with this is extreme target marketing, (or the “very long tail” of us travelers) Spirit already has… Read more »

Yea Cranky, like Ryan in Europe Chinese airlines here in mainland China have done this for a while now. Seat backs all plastered with ads, and some on bins and trashbags. They don’t look nearly as nice as Spirit’s, but same thing…China Eastern, China Southern and Air China all have had them for at least 5 years.


I guess I’m alone here – I think it’s great(albeit very tacky) – for an airline like Spirit anyway that’s mostly leisure (and the King of Tacky, no?). I rarely do anything but read, sleep or stare out the window-what else could I be doing, I guess? so I don’t see how these adds are going to be in any way bothersome.
Some mornings on the subway ride I have to admit I rather enjoy them – anything’s better than staring at the crazy guy across from me.
Loved the pic, cranky. Scary, yes… but good.

Tucano Bandeirante

I’m waiting for the ads to appear on flight attendants’ behinds. Wait for it…wait for it….

I’m with ed nyc – I find the ads to be just fine, especially if it means it will keep fares lower and affordable for us, the masses. I do take issue with your last comment, CF, that you don’t think this would be appropriate for United. I would have agreed with you a few years ago, but in the race to the bottom, United provides no better service in its Economy cabin than Spirit – and I would even argue that Spirit deserves more credit for at least being up front about the fact that they will get you… Read more »
As people have mentioned, Ryanair in Europe are quite happy to run ads for a fee anywhere they can on a plane. The audio ones (e.g. for alcohol and lottery scratchcards) which plug products sold onboard are annoying but bearable. Interestingly, while they have been going on for a while about trying to sell ads on seatbacks, overhead bins and the exterior of the plan, I have never seen another company’s ads on these locations. I don’t know for certain, but I would guess that there just haven’t been that many takers for this kind of advertising space. Budget airlines… Read more »

Right, we knew Ryanair does that.

I kind of would have expected Southwest to do it here, first, though. Why did you think Spirit, Cranky?

And your CF ad is terrifying. Hilarious, but terrifying. ;)

David SF eastbay
The newspaper has ad, magazines have ads, it’s not like we don’t see ads everywhere we do. I’m actually tired of seeing ads thrown in my face everywhere I go and every think I look at. Funny how these company’s spend millions to show their product in ads, and we the public are tired of ads. Would people not go to McDonalds or Wal-Mart if they didn’t see ads on TV for those places, I think not. The only bad things about ads on planes is that you will have bored people with ink pens and magic markers doing their… Read more »

Ryanair is nasty.

I gotta fly Air Asia soon, thankfully it will be very early in the morning after 20+ hours of flying, so I won’t mind the pain.

All that cranky all over the plane..oy!


Just think of all the legal BS that will occur some day when there is a major disaster involving one of these ad-laden planes, and the advertisers scramble the Ad-Hiding-Force to the crash site with duct tape and tarps to make sure no pictures of charred wreckage/bodies with ads visible near them make it out to the public eye.


[…] of Spirit, Brett has two good posts on them this work. First, he talks about how Spirit is introducing onboard advertising, and then he talks about Spirit’s financial […]

Advertising inside an airplane is a clever use of what little blank space remains on transportation vessels. Organizations can put their image on every corner of an airplane while consumers can continue to enjoy lower fares. And Spirit is the logical candidate to begin this trend as its shorter flights will not leave passengers weary of the same advertisements. You seem to satirize this proposal, when in fact I think you should embrace it. These advertisements will provide reinforced messages that all passengers will see, as opposed to a “five-second gaze” on a highway billboard. While Spirit has announced this… Read more »

[…] Cranky Flier brought to our attention a new push by Spirit Airlines to sell more ad space on their aircraft. They will now sell ads on […]

Tracy Graitge

Well did you happen to think this may be what helps keep the ticket prices lower??
Also, yes there are baggage fees but those that dont have them, have tickets that cost about the difference of what you would have paid so really…..THEY DO have baggage fees.