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Why Does This Continental Airlines Commercial Annoy Me?

Continental Airlines has been running this commercial (at least in the New York area), and I have found it to be somewhere between Dane Cook and Two and a Half Men on the annoying scale.  Passengers on a plane stare out the window longingly at clouds that float by in the shape of food products.  The passengers — not flying Continental — hazily remember those delicious days when airlines served unparalleled cuisine in the sky.  Oh the chateaubriand*…oh the baked Alaska…oh those shrimp cocktails!  We then find out that Continental Airlines does – still does! – serve that incredible nourishment we’ve all been missing for the past couple of years.

Is there a more disingenuous advertisement on the air?  Continental, which is an extremely well run airline that has fostered an enormous amount of love from its frequent travelers, thinks that “free” reheated TV dinners are their best selling point?  When did airline food stop being a joke and start being a key differentiator?  Is 1/3 of a turkey sandwich really the reason to fly an airline — or to pay a premium for a ticket?  I appreciate that they serve food, but haven’t passengers learned to pick up a sandwich at Subway before they fly?  Did focus groups really show that consumers miss airline food?

I love Continental, but really – don’t fly them because of the airline food.

*(I wanted to congratulate myself for spelling chateaubriand correctly the first time.  Of course I had to look it up after to make sure I spelled it correctly, but there ya go…)

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  1. I think the problem with the commercial is that it over-promises what Continental actually serves these days. I would not say they serve domestic “meals” — more like “enhanced snacks” (at least in the coach cabin). Indeed, unless they’ve changed it recently, I recall the timetables showing their domestic food as “snack” and not “breakfast,” “lunch,” or “dinner.”

    To their credit, Continental does serve better food than most airlines. On a 5 hour “international business class” flight to Central America from EWR, I was actually served a meal that included a lobster appetizer and an assortment of meats (including filet mignon) for my main course. It beat the pants off what Lufthansa served me in business class across the Atlantic a couple weeks ago.

    But don’t expect such vittles heading to Ft. Lauderdale in coach.

  2. “Better” food perhaps, but I think we are all really, really kidding ourselves if we think that we would ever find any airline food satisfactory in a restaurant. It’s fine when they serve it (even if the best premium classes, it’s still just airline food), but if they don’t serve it, life will go on. People have basically decided to complain about airline food — they complain when they have it, and they complain when they don’t.

  3. Hi Jared,

    I am not sure that the commercial is about Continental’s food; I actually think the ad uses food as some sort of symbolism about an era of flying that’s past (which, rightly or wrongly, people associate with some sort of glamor). Given how miserable flying domestically is, anything that makes one airline look as if they’re more service-focused probably helps (and, let’s face it, there isn’t much to differentiate there, at least with the legacy carriers). Having just experienced Newark Terminal A myself, I think that Continental probably needs to show off what meager offerings they have.

    Joe

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