Richmond's "Save Low Fares" campaign now underway

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - There's trouble ahead for Richmond travelers, and television watchers are getting acquainted with a flight attendant who is preparing for a bumpy ride.

It's all part of a new campaign that just hit the airwaves this week. Richmond leaders are urging flyers to use low-cost carriers, or risk paying hundreds of dollars more for flights.

Imagine you're on a flight, buckled in, ready for takeoff, when the flight attendant comes on the loudspeaker with a message you probably haven't heard before.

"Above your seats, you'll find a device which allows you to pay through the nose," she says.

She appears calm and soothing, on a flight that's about to hit some financial turbulence.

"Be prepared for severe nausea due to fares that will more than double," you hear.

What she's saying is part of an ad campaign. But the logic is real.

The spot is urging flyers to support the two low-cost carriers that fly out of Richmond: AirTran and JetBlue. Without support, they could leave, and the remaining airlines would get more expensive.

Kim Scheeler runs the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce.

"We don't want to go back to the point where Richmond is one of the most expensive airports in the country," Scheeler said.

The Chamber invested $600,000 in the campaign, which will have to overcome a key problem: AirTran and JetBlue don't always offer the lowest fares out of Richmond.

Let's say you're booking a flight one month from now to New York, RIC's #1 market. Using a leading travel Web site, AirTran offers the least expensive fare. Same to Orlando (RIC's #3 market). To Boston (RIC's #4 market), JetBlue is cheapest, but to Chicago (#5) and Atlanta (#2), USAirways currently offers a less expensive deal.

"And that's why we specifically in the ad said AirTran and JetBlue because we've gotta help people  understand that it's not always gonna be the cheapest price, but in the long term it will make a difference," Scheeler said.

At VCU's Brandcenter, Professor Kelly O'Keefe says the ad sends a clear message. The question now: will flyers remember it, when they book a flight?

"We tend to do the same things again and again and again. And they need to break the habit here to be effective. That's a tall challenge," O'Keefe said.

Hipple and Co. of Richmond/Atlanta developed the spot. It was produced by locally by 9WG Studios located on 9 West Grace Street. Ads will continue to run on television, radio, and in print over the next several months.

View the full clip here.

For more information visit

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.