Credit Cards

The Biggest Problem with the In-Flight Credit Card Pitch As United Makes it Mandatory

Ultimate Rewards
Written by Charlie

The in-flight credit card pitch is about to become mandatory for United Airlines. There are problems with this and this is the biggest problem with the in-flight credit card pitch for the passengers.

United Airlines has now joined American Airlines in having the credit card pitch as part of the things you will hear over the loudspeakers while flying. This pitch will be mandatory on United Airlines starting September 1.

The Biggest Problem with the In-Flight Credit Card Pitch as United Makes it Mandatory

Big Money for the Airline!

This is a huge revenue opportunity for the airlines as they literally have their greatest customers in front of them. While issuers use many other methods to get people to sign-up for co-brand credit cards (blogs, airport kiosks, direct mail pieces, advertisement during booking), in-flight is really a unique time for them to make this pitch.

Captive Audience

The majority of people flying airlines are not elite members and likely only fly a few times a year. They are a captive audience to find out how they can save money on their next flight when they check a bag, how they can avoid having to put their bag overhead (by having an earlier boarding group), and they could earn more miles than that flight would earn them.

Think about this – flight attendants now thank passengers for flying with them and welcome their frequent flyer program customers and then use that to encourage those who do not have a frequent flyer profile to register to earn miles. The problem with that is that most of those passengers that are being talked to may only earn a few hundred-couple of thousand miles from that!

The Biggest Problem with the In-Flight Credit Card Pitch

However, the biggest problem with the credit card pitch in-flight is the lack of compliance oversight. When I had credit card affiliate links on this blog, I had a certain standard to keep to in relation to how I advertised the offers. In fact, when I had direct links, there was someone that would read every post I put out to ensure that I was complying with the offer and the banks regulations.

Incorrect Information Given

For in-flight advertisement over the speaker, there is no standard of compliance that is enforced – at least with regularity. I cannot tell you how many times that I have heard flight attendants say things like:

  • you get elite status with the credit card (false – you do get an earlier boarding zone)
  • you get a free ticket every year (false – you have to spend to get miles for a free flight)
  • you get a free first class ticket to Europe with the bonus (false – there has never been a bonus high enough to let you redeem for first class with United at current levels)
  • this is the best offer around (false – almost 100% of the time!)

Disservice to Customers Who Trust the Attendants

I have educated several seat mates that were ready to sign-up for the offer when I told them that they could earn 20,000 more miles by just signing up through the Chase website instead! They were surprised that this offer was not made known (I was not) and they gladly waited to sign up (or some even signed up right then online).

This problem of the errors of in-flight pitches is certainly not going to get better since it was revealed that flight attendants will get $100 per approval instead of the usual $50 for a promotional period.

Remember the days that the jobs of flight attendants were to be there for safety and service? I am not a big fan of mixing responsibilities like this since now this mandatory in-flight pitch will likely be delivered at very bad times of flights and that interferes with the service part (passengers sleeping – like my friend Andy).

I know some flight attendants are really not happy about being made to make these announcements. I do feel bad for them. I am not against people earning more money but I think the system of the in-flight pitch really needs to be fixed. However, I doubt it will since it is bringing in too much money for the airlines…

HT: Skift

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • They woke up the entire cabin at 2am HNL time to promote the card on a HNL to LAX over night flight in February.

    • Nice try – I have never pushed credit cards and I don’t even get anything from credit cards on this site anyway (because I wouldn’t push them, I lost them so there are no credit card affiliate links on this site).
      Plus, you would have seen that had you actually exercised a little bit of reading comprehension.