Pranking US Airways Exec In Charge Of In-Flight Credit Card Pushing

Annoyed by getting pitched credit cards in the middle of his US Airways flight, John Hargave of calls up the VP of marketing at 5 in the morning to try to sell him a credit card. Site contains audio recording of the call. Harvgave also called up the US Airways executive office number and tried to sell a credit card to the gal there:

UA: You know what? I really need to go, because I have work to wrap up before the end of my workweek.
JH: And this is annoying, isn’t it?
UA: Yeah, it is annoying. But you know what? I’m able to tune stuff out that I don’t really want to hear.
JH: You know why? Because you’re not captive on a plane.

The obvious next evolution is that customers can opt to sit in a part of plane that doesn’t have hear the credit card offers, provided they pay a small additional fee.

The Airline Rewards Credit Card Prank [Zug]


Edit Your Comment

  1. theninjasquad says:

    It would have been funnier if he called him from the plane to offer it to him.

  2. Cowboys_fan says:


  3. mantari says:

    Next up: TIMESHARES!

  4. JustAGuy2 says:

    I’d be more impressed if he knew the difference between UA (United Airlines), and US (US Airways), but maybe I’m being pedantic.

  5. alyssariffic says:

    Am I the only one who finds it ironic that the page containing his complaints about how much he hates credit card marketing has only credit card ads on it? I’m sure it’s probably based on the content of the page, but still.

  6. Trick says:

    I like how “corporate security” threatened to sue him. Nice to know that companies can market you up the ying-yang but if you *dare* bother any of the people who do this, you get sued.

  7. Amelie says:

    @JustAGuy2: No, you’re just being a douche, looking for something irrelevant to nit-pick. Anyway, there’s actually a reason it’s abbreviated UA, but that would require you to read the original article. I guess making lame comments is easier.

  8. 3drage says:

    “I’m not interested in a credit card, but I know who might be” *dials Christ’s home phone collect from the plane and hands it to the flight attendant*

  9. BigNutty says:

    The advertising blitz is just beginning. Can’t you imagine the type of crap that is coming next?

    Advertisements in the stalls of restrooms? Where ever you are a captive audience you will never have peace.

  10. MercuryPDX says:

    @BigNutty: I’ve been to a few bars where this already happens. At the very least it gives you something to look at while using the urinals.

  11. salsa says:

    Um I was making a pie yesterday and my eggs had an advertisement for Dish TV printed on them.

  12. ry81984 says:

    He called Travis Christ, US Airways’s VP of Marketing, at home at 5:30am to pitch him a credit card offer.

    In response US Airways Corporate Security called him and theatened to sue him if he called Travis Christ at home again.

    Since when is it illegal to call someones home and pitch a credit card offer?

    How could they sue?

  13. TechnoDestructo says:

    “Christ should die for his sins.” :-D

  14. Buzz Lightyear says:


    List of Subjects in 16 CFR Part 310. Telemarketing, Trade practices. Accordingly, title 16, part 310 of the Code of Federal Regulations, is revised to read as follows:


    § 310.4 Abusive telemarketing acts or practices.

    (c) Calling time restrictions. Without the prior consent of a person, it is an abusive telemarketing act or practice and a violation of this Rule for a telemarketer to engage in outbound telephone calls to a person’s residence at any time other than between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. local time at the called person’s location.

    See [] for further.

  15. goodkitty says:

    My question really is… does any of this matter to the companies buying advertising? How many credit card signups do they really get, in exchange for ill will? In the ‘Dish TV’ eggs thing and other odd ideas (like ads in the fields next to airport runways), how many people are really going to say “oh I want that!” and make a purchase some time later? Does this kind of thing work or is it a group insanity where money is being thrown away in pursuit of bizarre executive fantasies? (The kind that earn them their fantasy bonuses for losing the company money.)

    I never really understood the promo spots on TV, like commericals for how great BASF is or how plastics are wonderful. Are they spending millions in public advertising to target a couple dozen decision makers? I don’t care how great either is, I just want my Subway and cheap Tivo.

  16. ParadigmABQ says:

    @goodkitty: Except the point of advertising is many times simply exposure. See also the first chapter of Guerilla Marketing which covers the mindset of someone who sees the same ad 20 times–ranging from hating it to “needing” the advertised item. And that 20 step process was written in London in the late 1800s.

    The more exposure an item has, the more liklihood that when someone is going to purchase an item in that range of products that that product will be considered.

    An ultimate example of this would be when an item transcends a brand name and becomes the name used for a generic item. See also: Kleenex.

  17. valthun says:

    here is a problem as I know it with these credit card pitches on planes. Flight attendants aren’t considered in the customer service department in many airlines. They are part of the marketing team and so the marketing team uses them for their shadiness whether they want to or not.

  18. Buran says:

    @Trick: For what? He didn’t do anything illegal. It’s just bluster.

  19. Buran says:

    Someone needs to start singing the Smurf song while they’re doing this. Loudly. Either that or singing the Monty Python Spam Song.

    If they bitch about it, say, “Well, then, stop trying to hawk shit we don’t want and we’ll stop”

  20. 7j6cei says:

    Not only do I hate US Airways for making me change planes, terminals, and go through security 2 times to get thru Phoenix (they were just merging with America West), but I remember that damn credit card offer. I kept saying out loud, “ok, ok, ok, we get it already, you want us to sign up for a credit card. Now shut the hell up and bring me my drink!”

    Last time I ever flew and will fly that crapy airline EVER!

  21. Dr.Ph0bius says:

    These companies dont care how much you hate the ads or how irritating it is… the entire point is repetitive advertising. I doubt anyone has ever had an irritating pop up come up and decided “Hmm, I’ll click on it and purchase this item.” We dont and the advertisers know it… but the advertisers understand that next time youre looking for “product X,” the brand you choose is highly influenced by a subconscious choice which has been manip[ulated by you having seen “brand x” a thousand times through pop ups, ads before movies, ads in restrooms, pop up ads, etc, etc.

  22. Scazza says:

    Next time it happens to anyone on a plane. Stand up, grab something out of your bag (a hair brush, dosnt matter) and begin “pitching” it for sale louder then the sales bastard. Encourage others to sell their items too, try and get a market going… lol

  23. jnews says:

    @Scazza: (and others) They will always pwn us in the end, for they will command you to sit down and shut up, and if you fail to do so immediately to their satisfaction, they’ll send you off in handcuffs for “interference with a flight crew”. While in the air, the flight attendant is God and she will smite you if you cause her any grief. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up where it says on the ticket and not gitmo.

  24. Catsmack says:

    Wow, I guess I’m really out of the loop because this is the first time I’ve heard of any airlines trying to sell their passengers things during flight. I’m guessing this is something only American airlines do?
    Anyway, it sounds like a horrible idea. Personally I just like relaxing and maybe catching some shut eye when I’m flying. Seeing as ticket prices are pretty high these days I don’t see the fairness in taking that away from people and trying to get even more money from them.

  25. Scazza says:

    @Catsmack: “because this is the first time I’ve heard of any airlines trying to sell their passengers things during flight”

    Umm It started with the innocent headphones… It has evolved rapidly!

  26. jamar0303 says:

    I wish foreign airlines were able to fly US routes. They always seem to do so much better and they actually treat passengers decently.

  27. Buran says:

    @jamar0303: Why do you think the US airlines have it set up so that that’s illegal? They’d be out of business in a heartbeat because they can’t hold a candle to real airlines.

  28. dirtymoney says:

    Eventually there will be lcd screens on the back of every airline passengers’ seat that constantly flash commercials at you the whole flight….. that cant be turned off or turned down.

  29. KJones says:


    Good idea, but don’t shout it out because you could get arrested for causing a disturbance. Instead, stand in front of the saleswhoring stewardess and block her path, and pitch your item only loud enough for her to hear it.

    Failing that, one could always resort to the passive aggressive method. Walk up and down the aisle repeatedly, pretending to need to use the toilet and moving through her as you “pass” (note the ingenious euphemism). If she says you’re interrupting her, say, “Are you going to arrest me for having diarrhea?”

  30. cde says:

    @Buzz Lightyear: Well buzz, he isn’t a tele-marketer and he isn’t really offering him a credit card… so for him to be prosecuted (in criminal court, since it is not a civil offense) he would need to be/do both.

  31. dazzlezak says:

    Next time call him using prepaid (hard to trace) cel phone at 5:30 in the morning.

  32. Buzz Lightyear says:

    @cde: I’ll give you that, but in most states, you can still get charged with harassment for making unwanted telephone calls…

  33. jamar0303 says:

    @Buran: Exactly. First step- the government needs to stop propping up the US airlines. There will be a couple of survivors, but they won’t be able to handle all the flights the original airlines did. Then have the Euro/Asian airlines fly some US routes to ease that.

  34. cde says:

    @Buzz Lightyear: It would have to be continuous calls after being told not to call (between sleeping hours). Not just one or two calls.

  35. cde says:

    @cde: @Buzz Lightyear: Sorry, got cut off. Also, imagine the bad press it would create.

  36. coss3n says:

    It doesn’t count as a “prank” unless it involves a whoopee cushion.

  37. doc10house says:

    If ads are going to be playing while I’m held captive, that’s fine. Let’s make air travel free and totally ad-supported…then, like with some computer software, you can pay a fee to be free of the ads if you wish. Everyone wins.

  38. Brian Gee says:

    @Buran: as evidence, Virgin fairly recently started flying in the US, and they were just ranked at the top of US airlines (in the “expensive” category, as opposed to SWA or JetBlue, but still).

    I’m on Delta for Thanksgiving (flying back tomorrow), and its absurd. They ramble on and on about the overpriced food items, then give a little schpiel about how to use your credit card to buy movies on the rinky-dink screen in front of you. All of this comes blasting out of the overhead speakers at about 120db, rattling my eardrums. I suppose if it were any quieter, it would be possible to tune it out, or perhaps hear my ipod, or concentrate on reading my book.

    Seriously. On Delta the audience isn’t just captive, they’re tortured.

  39. vex says:

    All the airlines I’ve been on lately have tried selling credit cards and miles programs during the emergency procedure announcement.

  40. valthun says:

    @Brian Gee: Virgin America is a US carrier and not a foreign carrier. There are only US citizens running the show.

    If I remember correctly a huge agreement was made that will start allowing foreign carriers to fly to more locations and offer connecting flights from one US city to another. So it’s only a matter of time.

  41. JustAGuy2 says:


    Please educate me, I did read the article, and missed the point where he decided to get the airline code wrong.

  42. ucntcme says:

    It is in the transcript. It’s subtle.