Last week, domestic airline Era Alaska, whose regional flights consist of quick hops between cities with names like Eek and Kwigillingok, discontinued its free beer program. Yep, you read that right. The Alaska-based airline that takes customers all over the Alaskan terrain was having a free beer promotion during its Dash 8 routes between Anchorage and Fairbanks, Deadhorse, Homer and Kodiak. According to Era's original statement, they would be partnering with local brew masters Denali Brewing Company to offer free samples of the company's Single Engine Red Brew for the month of June.
Allegedly, the airline has discontinued the program because state law doesn't allow using alcohol as a marketing tool. What country is Alaska in again? Not being able to use alcohol as a marketing tool is like saying you can't use shoes to cover your feet. Incidentally, the law becomes fuzzy once a plane is airborne, but Era airlines is stopping the program as a "courtesy" to the state. Stopping your marketing plan to be a nice company is as crazy as a Macy's salesman telling his customers to go buy Christmas presents at Gimbels instead.
For your reference, flying from Anchorage to Fairbanks takes just about an hour, more or less a trip from here to Dallas. If you've ever taken the quick flight to the Big D, you know that there is barely enough time to power up your laptop, let alone chug a free beer.
The promotion makes sense, though, if you think about it in terms of the flight from Houston to Dallas. When faced with the trek, most people opt to drive. It's cheaper, and the time in the car is not all that bad. But consider the notion that instead of driving the long four hours, you could fly and have free beer. Sounds pretty good.
What else can you do in an hour that would be better with free beer? Oh, just about everything, but here are our top five.
5. Having a Dental Examination Most people dread going to the dentist; the picks, the spit, that chalky toothpaste they polish on your chompers all add up to one miserable hour. How much nicer would it be if you sat back in that reclining chair and were offered a brewski? Instead of sucking your spit out, the hygienist would be filling your mouth with a cold, frothy beverage. By the end of the exam, you wouldn't care less how many cavities you had, just where to get some salty snack mix.
4. Going to the Gym It would be incredibly counterproductive if when you walked into a 24 Hour Fitness you were given a free beer. That being said, wouldn't you go that much more often? If you think about it, the gym is really conducive to drinking. There's loud music playing, girls/guys in skimpy clothing looking for someone to pick them up, and every piece of machinery has a cup holder. If they gave away one of those low-cal, low-carb beers, it would be just like drinking Gatorade anyway.
3. Sitting Through Your Kid's Chorus Concert If your child has a music teacher with a heart, these things usually come in under the 60-minute mark, but regardless, it would go much faster with a free Corona in hand. After one or two of those bad boys, your kid might even sing on key. Plus, you know that all of those deadbeat dads out there would feel much more inclined to show up if they are giving away free alcohol.
2. Your Weekly Trip to the Supermarket Many supermarkets give away small tastes of wine to encourage purchase, which is never enough to give you a buzz, unless you pretend to be several different people and go back for thirds (I have never done that). As of late, many of the more upscale grocery stores have bars inside and allow customers to sip and stroll, so they say.
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This is very popular at Whole Foods on a Friday night, where mom and dad get the shopping done with kids in tow; dad's slamming overpriced craft beers and mom is on her third glass of rose before she even hits the bulk quinoa aisle. I have witnessed these couples firsthand walk out with two carts worth of food, mostly because their children have filled said carts with massive amounts of Pirate Booty and Soy Pudding and their parents are too drunk to notice.
If Kroger or Fiesta got on this bandwagon, but they were giving the beer away, just think of how much money they could rake in. Depending on the locale and clientele, it wouldn't even have to be fancy beer; Budweiser Select would do just fine.
1. That "Brainstorming" Meeting Your Boss Called It's marked off on your calendar for exactly an hour, but you just know that this meeting is going to turn into one of those marathons, complete with dry erase boards and Strength/Weakness/Opportunity/Threats (SWOT) plans and arguments, and in the end absolutely nothing will come of it. Worst of all, half the staff won't even show up due to lame excuses like "My kid is sick" or "My grandmother passed away."
Bosses of the world, hear my cry: Give your employees free beer for an hour and see how packed that boardroom will become. You know that all good ideas come when you are slightly inebriated; why stifle creativity with forced sobriety? Free beer presents no weaknesses or threats, only strengths and opportunities.