Exploitation Of Hawaii Flights | Marketing Overboard

Have you had enough strange marketing hype from Hawaii-centric airlines? From endless hawking of credit card offers to fake Hawaii canned water and the unforgettable, ukulele incident. And remember some of the most expensive Hawaii print advertising ever in those now gone island maps.

How marketing onboard Hawaii flights took a definite turn for the worse.

When a non-commercial Hula performance broke out spontaneously a decade ago, who knew it would turn into a free-for-all commercial? That was followed by, among other things, endless and annoying credit card offers on Hawaiian Air flights with bonus miles if you sign up during the flight. It’s embarrassing to see our highly regarded flight attendants marching up and down the aisles like that.

Also read Shtick on Hawaii Flights Started With Hula, Then Devolved which includes a fascinating video of the original hula performance.

We suppose next, we can expect to see more branded products, wherein airlines will partner with other brands to leverage one another for financial gain. What’s different from the original surprise hula performance is that it was done without marketing of any kind.

We don’t have a good feeling about merchandising to us as captive audiences at 38,000 feet. But, it may just be the way of the future.

The ukulele flight that won’t go away.

An article from a mainland news publication gave the impression that if you weren’t onboard the Southwest flight with 175 people “questionably playing” ukulele for five hours across the Pacific (and for the first time), you somehow missed just how wonderful an event it was. Really?

What would your reaction have been to find a ukulele on your seat at the start of a long journey to Hawaii? We were thinking of looking for our active noise canceling headsets perhaps?

It was more of the latest unadulterated hype of products and Hawaii flights combined. This one is between Guitar Center and Southwest Airlines. The publication accused naysayers who criticized the “cheerful promotion,” as they put it, of being “a gimmick worse than death.” The publication accused naysayers who criticized the “cheerful promotion” of being “a gimmick worse than death” of being “knee-jerk reactors.” They said, “This experience, while a commercial for two mega corporations, was a harmonious, unique memory for a full flight of passengers inbound for Hawaii.” Oh puh-leeze!

Was this a “unique memory for a full flight of passengers inbound for Hawaii?” 

The Guitar Center employees on board said it was wonderful. Well, what do you expect? The ukuleles were on the seats as the passengers boarded the flight from Long Beach to Honolulu. That means the ukes were out and used for the entire flight. Here’s a thought. What if the promotion, lessons, and ukes had stayed stored away until somewhere towards the end of the flight? Very thoughtful.

Amtrak said…

We haven’t been alone in our dislike for gimmicks on flights to Hawaii. It seems like the airlines will stoop to anything in that regard. Others have said that the ukulele flight was “the stuff of nightmares” and “hell above earth.” Even usually silent Amtrak had at it, saying, “btw we have a quiet car.”

Is Hawaiian Air “canning” Jason Momoa fake Hawaii water?

No one can forget that Jason Momoa not long ago masqueraded as a Hawaiian flight attendant to promote his Mananalu Pure Water. That water is sourced from Bozeman, Montana, Montebello, California, and Norfolk, Nebraska. And not from Hawaii, as its name implies.

Your editor, Jeff Tucker, had multiple flights on Hawaiian Airlines last week, both in economy and first class (first-hand reviews are coming, and be prepared for some real surprises). Up in first class, Mananalu water had been removed from the beverage menu. When Jeff asked the flight attendant about it, he offered to give him one from the Pau Hana cart in economy, but Jeff declined.

Hawaiian has long-served Hawaiian Springs water from large plastic bottles poured into plastic cups in all classes of service. That water is authentic “Hawaiian artesian water bottled exclusively at the source.”

The aluminum containers from Mananalu aren’t sustainable or environmentally appropriate. Reusable water containers are the most sustainable. There remains controversy about aluminum safety (we don’t know if Mananalu water is lined or unlined, both of which have potential issues).

Making these aluminum cans uses vast amounts of electricity and produces more than four times the carbon dioxide emissions compared with a plastic bottle of the same size. While theoretically recyclable, the process is not dependable; more often than not, these end up in landfills.

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20 thoughts on “Exploitation Of Hawaii Flights | Marketing Overboard”

  1. All airlines try and have a bonus mile cc signing on most flight on most airlines.
    This is not unique to Hawaii.
    The lack of Aloha these days IS.

  2. With all due respect, I don’t like HA’s water change but beyond that you seem to have turned to nitpicking them. I’m sure your review will do the same. I’ve flown HA a dozen times in the last 18 months, all flights were the same outstanding authentic Hawaiian experience as always. Yet you seem to be dragging them down as if you are trying to fuel a SWA vs HA battle. SWA is predatory, rude, loud and degrading the market. Hawaiian well represents what’s left of what makes Hawaii different and special from tourist spots like Florida and Las Vegas.

  3. Flight attendants at major US airlines get paid $50 bonus for each CC application filled out. And the F/A with the most per month will get an additional bonus. Please consider some F/A can really use the extra income. Thank you.

  4. Wow! I’m stumped…many people swear by flying Hawaiian to get the Hawaii vibe the moment you walk onto the plane. SWA does a cute promo with an actual symbol of Hawaii, the ukulele and some people lose their minds. I much prefer that type of promo rather than flight attendants hawking the airline branded credit card over the PA. Aloha!

  5. Some people liked the ukelele adventure. Others don’t. There must be a way to not impose this on people who don’t want it. Some way to opt out.

  6. I want my flights to be uneventful.
    I should be warned or given a choice for a flight with “live” so called entertainment before I book my flight. As far as joint marketing airlines have been doing it for years.

  7. I can’t imagine 5 hours of Ukulele strumming in, mostly hacking, from Long Beach. Even worse is the thought of my flight, non stop, from Newark being more annoying than a double toothache. Typically I sleep for most of the 10+ hours to Hawaii and it really helps, keeping me Annoyed and Awake would violate the Charter for War Crimes and Torture! I know, Suck it up and have another can or three of Jason’s Fake Hawaiian Water in aluminum cans. IMHO, Aluminum Cans should Never be allowed on any flight, my Devious Mind can spot Trouble a mile Plus Away! Thanks BOH, Great Article! 👍

  8. I would have gone crazy if I was on that flight. I should not have to own noice canceling headphones to handle a PR stunt on a flight (that is 5+- hours long).
    Totally uncool.
    Funny part … I almost never fly SWA, I hate the seating situation.

  9. I’m not sure why this is bothersome for you. As a former F/A, airlines do promotions like this All the time to highlight a route or an event. Of the many times I’ve flown to Hawaii (born Oahu ‘62, mainland flying since 82) I would have loved to have been on one of those flights. And from the responses from the passengers on the ukulele flight, the lesson didn’t start until halfway through and everyone seemed to enjoy it. (Of course Amtrak is going to say something negative, it’s a promotion chance for them). Aloha 🌴

  10. Just curious where a plane’s crew could have “stored away” close to 200 ukulele until toward the end of the flight? Even taking up one of the lav’s likely would not have had adequate space to store them all. 🤣

    Regardless what I think about this, a big difference is that the passengers got the ukulele Gratis, & weren’t hounded to sign up for them. And who knows? Perhaps for anyone that didn’t want the ukulele, the crew may have been able to get the unwanted ones off the plane while still at the gate? I have no idea on that, JMHO.

    But I do loathe the credit card hawking on flights for Sure.

    1. The $60.00 ukuleles were at each seat as the passengers got on and the passengers had the option of taking it with them as they got off the plane or have it mailed home for them.
      “ The event was a joint partnership between Southwest Airlines and Guitar Center. All passengers were gifted a Mitchell MU40 Soprano ukulele and a carrying case. Guitar Center provided the lessons for the passengers. The special event promotes Hawaiian culture as Southwest continues to expand its Hawaii network. It chose to use the ukulele as a part of this unique experience as it is one of Hawaii’s most popular and iconic musical instruments”

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