Fly the feminine skies: American’s sex appeal

In a bid to attract more of the people who make more of the purchase and travel decisions than you would think, American Airlines has became the first major carrier to devote a part of its website exclusively to women travellers. Like most other major US carriers, the airline already has programs and websites for Spanish-speakers and marketing plans for gay and lesbian travellers. This site,, is slightly different, because it is intended to be a little more than just a place to sell things to people. The airline wants it to be an on-line community and one that its users help shape, says Nora Linville, who is American’s first director of women’s sales and marketing.
It came about as American realised that more and more of its best customers, the high-paying business flyers, were women. The airline’s traffic breaks along gender lines 52% male, but the 48% who are female has seen rapid growth as the workforce has changed. The percentage of women business travellers in somewhere in the high 20s, American officials say. American communications director Mary Sanderson says that if it can attract 2% more women travellers, it stands to increase revenues by as much as $94 million.Linville says that the airline has already emailed some 1.4 million women members of its AAdvantage loyalty program after setting up a travel advisory panel of experienced lady road warriors. Linville, a 20-year-vetern of American, says that the airline has already taken quite a few hints from its women warriors such as making sure that major airport lounges in its Admirals Club program had places for children accompanying their parents. It also decided that it would arrange its new business-class seating to allow for more privacy. It even added places to store purses in the seat back. . The airline will post between five and ten 10 travel tips a month on its site, which it invites to be emailed to


Linville says that the website will evolve: “it may or may not begin a blog, but it will certainly move toward developing some sort of community. The customer will tell us where to take the website. It will evolve along the lines of what they want”, she says This may be the most evolutionary element in the American marketing to women plan: some airlines have invited so-called consumer-generated content as Southwest recently did in adopting an advertisement based on a customer concept suggested in a competition, and some airlines have blogs such as a Midwest-sponsored blog for women, but for a carrier like American, traditionally a top-bottom-command-and-control type of company, this takes customer involvement a step further.

The airline is in part she says taking a cue from one of its AAdvantage marketing partners, the Wyndham hotel chain, which has had a program called Women on Their Way. The airline and the hotel chain will offer discounts (of 20%) and a spa offer for members all this year.

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