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Airline Mismanagement

Some airline slogans are solid and sensible.  Others make no sense at any time, and some become ironic with only a brief passing of time.

As such, airline slogans seem to often be equal measures of irrelevance and potential embarrassment, as much as they may ever be valid marketing tools.

 
 
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More about Airline Slogans and Taglines

Sometimes embarrassing and sometimes contradictory
 

The visual logo part of an airline's branding is usually distinctive, but the written slogan they optionally add can be anything but distinctive.

Part 2 of a series on Airline Slogans - please also visit the other pages linked on the right.

 

 

We'll never know how it is that airlines (and not just airlines - many other companies too) spend so much resource on developing such ridiculous slogans.

But we can at least see the results of their best efforts, spread over the next three pages and 560+ examples of slogans from 200+ different airlines, spanning 80+ years of slogan making.

Slogans with Unintentional Irony

Sometimes airlines come out with slogans that, when viewed through the clarity of 20:20 hindsight, are ironic, usually in a sad sort of way.

Of particular note are the somewhat desperate sounding slogans offered by airlines who are in their death throes - such slogans proudly announce the solidity and reliability of the airline, sometimes being released mere months before the airline's final closure and disappearance.

There are also slogans that seem to be ambiguous in meaning.  Does "Expect More" mean you'll be pleased or disappointed?  How does one feel when one's flight is an hour late and the airline's slogan is "The On-time Airline"?

How about the airline with the slogan "Trust us to fly" - a standard seeming slogan, perhaps, but when you consider the airline is in the bottom ranking safety category by its home country government and is banned from flying to/from the EU, it seems that your trust may be somewhat misplaced.

Contradictory Slogans

Some airlines have little awareness or care for their past history when it comes to slogan making.

For example, Braniff had a slogan "World's Fastest Airline" in 1930, and then "Save Time by Braniff" in 1941.  It had a similar time saving theme in 1950 "Save Time - Save Money Fly Braniff".  It followed this in 1959 with a similar slogan, "World's Fastest Jetliner".

But in 1965, it came out with an opposite slogan "We don't get you there any faster, it just seems that way".

Slogans that Drive a Campaign

Often a slogan is a tag line or 'after thought' but sometimes it is the driving force of an entire marketing campaign.

A recent example of a slogan that was designed not only to drive an entire campaign but also to make best use of the modern concepts of 'viral' videos distributed through YouTube and elsewhere would be the very successful Air New Zealand "Our fares have nothing to hide" campaign (compared to discount carriers with lots of obscured extra costs to be added to the base advertised fares), featuring staff who were naked except for body paint (even their CEO) in a series of advertisements and a related safety video (called "Bare Essentials").  The campaign had exceeded 6.5 million views on YouTube in the first two months since its launch.

Meaningless Slogans

Some slogans are utterly meaningless, and some have a possible dim and distant glimmer of meaning.

For example, "Reaching for New Heights" might make sense for an airline after reorganization, and has some sort of tie-in to the concept of altitude and therefore flying, but basically it remains almost meaningless.

The most regularly quoted example of a meaningless airline slogan (does that mean the slogan writer has actually out-smarted us all?) is probably "Emotionally Yours".

When is a 'Slogan' Not a 'Slogan'?

What is the trigger point that makes a line of an advertisement into a formal slogan?  When does something rise up and dignify recognition as a slogan in one of its various forms (eg catch phrase, strap line beneath logo, or whatever)?

Making this value judgment is difficult.  Sometimes slogans are short-lived because they relate to specific events, but they are still touted as a slogan during their short life.  But sometimes you'll see a single phrase appear in just one or two places, and then never again - is that too a slogan and worthy of being reported?

We've tried to use some good sense in what we do and don't include, but quite likely we've included some phrases that are too trivial, and omitted some which are/were more important than they appear when looked at in isolation, years or decades later.

The Life of a Slogan

It is interesting to see how some slogans live for decades while others come and go in a single season or less.

The duration of a slogan's public presence is perhaps an empirical measure of the airline's own satisfaction with the slogan (although it could also be argued that some airlines are simply too uninterested to freshen up slogans that are desperately in need of change.

Sloganless Airlines

Some airlines do not appear to have any slogans at all.  While these airlines are often from countries that are not considered to be 'marketing savvy', even western airlines from, eg, US, UK and Australia seem to go through periods of intense slogan use alternating with an apathetic absence.

What is this telling us?  Surely slogans are either a good thing or a bad thing?  If they are good, why not use them all the time.  If they are bad, why use them at all?

The Best Slogans

We hesitate to select the best of these 500+ slogans.  The 'best' slogan is the one you remember, along with the name of the airline that authored the slogan, and one that gives you a positive feeling.

Perhaps the best known slogan may be 'Fly the Friendly Skies' - a long running campaign by United Airlines from 1966 - 1997.  If you've heard of it, that is a plus for the slogan, if you can tie it to United Airlines, that is a plus for the airline, and if it makes you nod approvingly, then it wins the jackpot.

But the double-edged nature of this slogan is that all too often these days it is referred to sarcastically or negatively, because we all know that flying these days is anything but friendly, and many of us also perceive United Airlines and its front-line staff to be less friendly than average (in an industry where friendliness is very scarce to start with).

What do you think - does United now rue the day it first launched this slogan?

The Accuracy of the Slogans Listed

We've compiled this list of slogans as a result of searching through the internet and exercising as much quality control as we can, but identifying definitive slogans is very much a series of shades of grey rather than black and white - indeed, we've seen airlines themselves with multiple similar versions of the same slogan - are these a planned formal evolution of the 'official' slogan, or a series of mistaken variations on the official theme?

When does a slogan start or finish?

How much of a sentence, clause, or phrase is the key part of the slogan, and how much is not so relevant?  For example, the slogan often remembered as 'Something Special in the Air' comes from a more complete sentence 'Silver bird, take me where there's something special in the air', and we've seen the slogan cited in full, or as the intermediate form 'take me where there's something special in the air' as well as in its five word essential form.

Wherever possible, we've tried to show as much of the complete context of the slogan as we can, and indicate by brackets which is the key part.

Capitals/lower case/periods

Very rarely we've actually sighted a slogan ourselves, and then can accurately copy it in terms of its capitalization and punctuation.  But even in such cases as that, ambiguities arise - if a slogan is shown in all upper case, should we now show it as all upper case or should we use a mix of upper and lower case, and, if the latter (our preference) was it the original intent to capitalize every word or just the starts of sentences and proper nouns?

Additionally, if a slogan is broken into two lines when printed, was it the intent of the slogan writer to have it in two lines, or is this merely a layout/typographical coincidence?  Should we show it as two lines, or as two sentences, or as one sentence with a comma?

Should there be a period at the end of the slogan?

So, even if we have sighted the slogan ourselves, it is difficult to accurately render it on this listing.

Relying on imperfect sources

And, of course, if we're accepting someone else's recollection or written memory, there is plenty of opportunity for error.

Two people might offer two versions of a slogan - is this a case of one person being mistaken (and which person?), or is it a case of a slogan which appeared in two forms?

Sometimes it is interesting to see how slogans get confused and altered, but in the interests of accuracy, we're trying to restrict ourselves to the correct versions only!

The bottom line - what can you rely upon

The bottom line is that few of these slogans can be considered as definitive.  If you're looking for a resource to settle a large bet with a friend, the only slogans you can be certain of here are the ones that have a formal attribution to them (eg a 'sighted' or similar comment).

Can You Help Us?

Sure, this is already probably the largest collection of airline slogans, anywhere.  But it barely touches the surface of all the slogans that have ever been released, for all airlines that have ever flown (or even not flown!).

Furthermore, the information we do have is often incomplete and may sometimes be inaccurate.

If you can help us more accurately identify the slogans we have, or if you have new slogans to add to the collection, please let us know.  It is helpful if you tell us the slogan itself, the airline it related to, and also as much else such as when the slogan was in use, and how it was used, and any background to why the slogan was chosen, or why it was superseded, and anything else to add to the context of each slogan.

Part 2 of a series on Airline Slogans - please also visit the other pages linked at the top right of this article.

 

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Originally published 21 Aug 2009, last update 19 Dec 2013

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
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