Landing on your Derrie-Air as the Philadelphia story adds weight to carbon emissions debate

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

“Pack less, weigh less, pay less”.  Welcome to Derrie-Air – “the world’s only carbon-neutral luxury airline where you don’t have to choose between living the high life and saving the planet”.

That’s right, an innovative new Philadelphia airline company has come up with a unique way of cutting down on carbon emissions by introducing a ‘sliding scale’ ticket price concept. In short, the more you weigh, the more you’ll pay.

As Derrie-Air explains: “After all, it takes more fuel – more energy – to get more weight from point A to point B. So passengers will be charged according to how much mass they [and their luggage] add to the plane.” And get this, Derrie-Air will even plant a tree to offset every pound of carbon that its planes release into the atmosphere.

So while people of heavier build will pay more, they will help the environment more. As Derrie-Air puts it: “The heavier you and your luggage are, the more trees we’ll plant to make up for the trouble of flying you from place to place”.

What a way to save your conscience. Derrie-Air is even offering special deals based strictly on your travelling weight – “$2.25 a lb, Philadelphia to Los Angeles”; “$1.40 a lb, Philadelphia to Chicago”.

What a brilliant concept. Except… it’s not for real.

That’s right, it was all a spoof. A few days after the airline was ‘launched’ via full-page advertisements in the Philadelphia Enquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, the creators came clean, admitting the campaign was designed “to put a smile on your face and to address the timely issue of carbon emissions”.

It also – quite successfully it must be said – was designed to underline the strength of newspaper advertising. The airline was in fact the brainchild of the newspapers’ owners, Philadelphia Media Holdings, and a local advertising agency, Gyro.

The ads ran for just one day, generating over 2.7 million website hits and 210,000 page views. Hundreds of international and national stories about the promotion ensued, driving traffic (not of the passenger kind presumably) to

“Nothing works like our media” trumpeted the newspaper company as it admitted all.

But maybe they were on to something. After all, gas- and food-guzzling America has the worst obesity problem in the world. Why not address that problem while simultaneously dealing with the fuel crisis and environmental issues? Maybe someone really should try it, so that before the oil crisis really bottoms out a genuine Derrie-Air is pointed at the sky.

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