The Best Airline April Fools’ Day Pranks 2016

It’s that time of the year and airlines are once again busy fooling their distracted social media followers and customers while making the rest of the world have a good laugh. The SimpliFlying research team spent the day today tracking most of the April Fool’s Day from around the world. We have done a roundup of the best and we announce the winner of the SimpliFools Award – the airline with the most innovative prank!

 

SimpliFools Award winner: Virgin America’s new logo

Virgin America was the first out of the gate with an April Fool’s Day prank. The airline published an over-the-top video announcement regarding a “logo redesign” on the 31st of March.  But the airline didn’t stop there and in an effort to fool as many people as possible it created images of fake whiteboards and even a website for the made-up creative agency that supposedly designed the logo. Of course, Sir Richard Branson made an appearance. 

Keeping in line with the Virgin brand tone, the new logo resembled a pair of breasts. The language and gestures in the video were all highly suggestive. As AdWeek pointed out, many also felt that the new logo was a play on airBnB, which released its logo last year. In fact, airBnb’s CEO, Brian Chesky came out with a tweet that re-designed their own logo in Virgin-style!

We recommend viewing the hilarious video for more:

As the SimpliFools Award winner, Virgin America will get a quarter’s subscription to the SimpliFlying Airline Marketing Benchmark report, and two passes to the next SimpliFlying Lab.

Virgin Australia’s Kids Class

Over the Pacific, Virgin Australia announced the launch of a dedicated “Kids Class”, the first adult-free seating class with customized service tailored to minor travelers! This was a fun prank, in contrast to the announcements by AirAsia X, Scoot and Malaysia Airlines a couple of years ago to introduce child-free cabins.

Air New Zealand’s bus to Hawaii

Across the Tasman Sea, Air New Zealand started earlier than most airlines and instead of just doing an online joke, the actually decided to prank some unsuspecting Auckland locals. The airline decked out a bus in Hawaiian style and asked passers-by if they wanted to go to Hawaii. To ensure they filled up the bus, the airline also posted on Facebook and in the comments section provided updates on the bus location.  Once full, the bus ironically drove to a villa called “Hawaii” and most of its passengers were rather disappointed. It was an “epic let down”, as Air New Zealand put it. Until of course, the airline offered them free tickets to Hawaii!

 

Peach’s Samurai plane

As the first Japanese LCC, Peach has been exhibiting a uniquely fun spirit. The airline is based in Osaka, where people are famous for their hospitality and a great sense of humor. They announced the launch of the Samurai plane, where the airline removed all seats and created an arrangement where people would sit Japanese-style, on the wooden floor of the airplane! Lots of other services, uniquely fit for a Samurai, but seldom offered on an aircraft were conjured.

JetStar Asia’s Singlish service

If you’ve been to Singapore, you’d have noticed a distinct slang of the English language being spoken there – it’s called Singlish. JetStar Asia, which is based in the city decided to make Singlish its official language and send its crew for language training. It’s a well thought out video that is hilarious to watch if you know Singlish. Though, we felt they could have taken it further by having a Live Singlish safety video demonstration!

WestJet’s RALFH – the automated overhead galley

Keeping with its tradition of rolling out epic April Fool’s Day pranks, WestJet announced the launch of RALFH, an innovation that would eliminate the irritating airline galley by having an overhead robot deliver food automatically. While the prank was fun, it was a bummer Richard revealed that it was a joke, a little too early in the video. Perhaps WestJet has set the bar very high from its previous pranks.

Southwest Airlines’ Cash Lav

In honor of a popular American TV show, Southwest announced a new game called “Cash Lav,” where passengers who are in a rush to answer the call of nature will be surprised in the lavatory to participate in the in-bathroom quiz and get a chance to win up to $200.

Hong Kong Airlines’ shortest flight

Hong Kong Airlines, a Hainan Airlines subsidiary, announced its new destination: Cheung Chau, Hong Kong! Cheung Chau is an outlying island only 10km away from downtown Hong Kong, famous for its annual bun festival. Hong Kong Airlines claims to be proud to launch “the world’s shortest flight.” The airline also posted a “Truth or Dare” game on it’s Chinese weibo account for Mainland Chinese audience.

So, what’s your favorite airline April Fool’s Day prank?

P.S: Special thanks to our interns, Baiba Dreimane and Ian Tsung-yen Lee for helping research this article.

 

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam is the CEO of SimpliFlying and a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought-leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior aviation executives globally, from Chile to Canada and from Sydney to San Francisco. Shashank's perspectives have found their way into major media outlets, including CNN Travel, CNBC, MSNBC, Bloomberg UTV, Mashable and in leading publications like Airline Business, ATW, Aviation Week, and others. Shashank studied Information Systems Management and Business Management at Singapore Management University and Carnegie Mellon University. Hailing from India, he splits his time between Singapore and Vancouver, among other cities.
Shashank Nigam
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