Travel Forecast: Sunny with Lots of Rainbows

American, Delta, Southwest

Airlines all over the US are making it clear: If you’re gay, they want your money.

06_11_08 rainbowWell, if you’re not gay, they want your money as well. But if you are gay, they’re seeing dollar signs in their eyes. That’s because many gay couples are “DINCs” – people with “Dual Income and No Children.” That’s a highly desirable market because any couple with two incomes and no kids tends to have a lot of discretionary income to spend. And what better to spend on than travel?

It’s my understanding that American has had its aa.com/rainbow site for some time. Southwest just launched southwest.com/gaytravel and now Delta has delta.com/gaytravel – Rainbow Getaways, they call it.

So do these sites do any good? Maybe a little, but not really. I think it’s effective in a symbolic way. It’s a a signal to gay people that they don’t discriminate and they’re happy to make that public knowledge, even if it does mean the religious right will jump on them for it (which they inevitably will). From a practical point of view, though, it doesn’t seem to be worth much.

The best of the bunch seems to be American, which has links to news and events as well as to some special offers. Of course, these offers can be used by anyone, since I doubt the reservations agent is going to ask you to prove if you’re actually gay. My guess is that you’ll probably only find out about these offers on the gay site, so it makes it worthwhile to return whether you’re gay or not for that reason alone.

Delta and Southwest offer far less on their sites. Delta basically aggregates a couple of links to gay sites and nothing more. Southwest does a bit more than that – they have a gay event calendar as well as a list of gay friendly destinations, but do you really need that? How many times do gay people log on to find a flight and say, “Oh, San Francisco is gay-friendly? Who knew?!?”

I would think that more detailed information than that would be far more helpful. I mean, I’m sure you can find gay-friendly areas in just about any city in the country. I’d think that gay people would be more concerned about recommendations of places to avoid. For example, maybe a gay person was discriminated against at a certain hotel or restaurant.

Ultimately, that sort of detail is probably not something that’s the domain of the airline website. And that’s why these sites will never be truly useful other than as a symbolic gesture to show that they are gay friendly.

I’m curious to get some comments from gay people on what you think about these sites. Do these sites do anything for you?

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7 comments on “Travel Forecast: Sunny with Lots of Rainbows

  1. I agree. I really appreciate that airlines are reaching out to me, but in practice I don’t see myself using those sites much. When I’m looking for travel info on gay pride events, nightlife, etc., I’m more likely to do some good old-fashioned Googling.

  2. I agree with Jeff — I like that they’re trying, but “really, SF is gay friendly” is about as newsworthy as “really, the airline industry is gay friendly? Who knew?!”.

  3. Not to sound like a broken record, but I agree with the others: if the value add is not high enough, then traffic will be minimal on these special sites. If, however, special deals during certain pride events are offered, then these sites could be serious contenders. For example, if during San Francisco or NYC pride, AA offered a great air+ (close to pride activities) hotel package, then people will certainly use these sites, if they’re well advertised. The key is making sure that there’s definitive value to be had by going to them.

  4. Isn’t it ironic that the airlines (AA,DL,WN) that are doing these sites are the ones headquartered in arguably the most conservative part of the country and are themselves historically very conservative companies?

    I’m waiting for Alaska Airlines, they of the prayer card on the meal tray, to “go gay”. (Come to think of it, it’s not that far of a stretch from the design they’re using to promote their new Hawaii service…)

  5. Alaska sponsors

    the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Chorus
    the Greater Seattle Business Association
    Disney Gay Days
    Gaytravel.com’s 2007 All-Gay Alaska Cruise
    -and- places a float/group in the Seattle Pride Day parade

    Geoff, I would counter your argument by saying the airlines you mentioned are the airlines that are trying their hardest to overcome perceived obstacles of being open in the South. Dallas and Atlanta both have sizeable gay communities.

  6. Geoff tried to put an image in the comment, but apparently that doesn’t work. To see how Alaska is promoting their new Hawai’i service, go here.

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