How to fly readers directly to their destination: a lesson from Etihad Airways

Graphic: Etihad Airways

When the Trump administration banned electronics larger than a mobile phone for passengers from several Middle East airports, airlines needed to respond. A press release from Etihad Airways tries to explain the problem and their solution, but circles around aimlessly instead. Here’s how to use a ROAM analysis to make communications like this better.

Etihad’s email jumbles problems and marketing

Here’s the vague and wordy 1000-word press release Etihad used to announce the policy and its actions. The first half is facts about the policy, and the second half is marketing, but the transition is abrupt and strange. I’ve bolded information that doesn’t help the reader, and put passive voice in bold italic.


Abu Dhabi, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Etihad Airways is reassuring passengers of its highest level of service to minimize disruption following the introduction of a new US travel directive on electronic devices.

Effective March 25, passengers on all US-bound flights from, or transiting through, Abu Dhabi International Airport will not be permitted to carry electronic devices bigger than a smart phone or mobile into the aircraft cabin.

Items such as laptop computers, tablets including iPads, gaming devices, cameras and e-readers will be required to be placed in checked-in luggage. Medical devices are exempt and can be carried onboard.

US-bound passengers travelling via Abu Dhabi must check-in their electronic devices at the point of origin. The directive, issued by the US Transportation Security Administration, does not affect flights departing from the United States.

At Abu Dhabi International Airport, all Etihad Airways guests traveling to the United States clear US Immigration and Customs at the US Preclearance facility in Terminal 3 – the only one of its kind in the Middle East. When guests land in the US, they arrive as domestic passengers with no requirement to queue for immigration checks again. Due to the additional security measures, Etihad Airways will deploy more staff at the US Preclearance facility to provide assistance.

Guests must pack the prohibited items in their checked baggage prior to reaching the Preclearance facility in Abu Dhabi. Any prohibited electronic devices will have to be declared and placed in padded envelopes before being securely taken to the aircraft luggage hold by staff. Such items will be returned to guests on arrival in the US, while conveniently, other items of checked-in luggage can be collected at the final destination in the United States.

Guests should also avoid carrying spare battery packs larger than the permitted size as these will not be allowed in either the luggage hold or the cabin.

Etihad Airways is sending email alerts to all US-bound travelers advising of the new directive. Signage is being placed at check-in desks at airports around the world where staff will inform guests to pack any prohibited electronic devices in their checked luggage.

All Etihad Airways’ US flights have mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity, together with power and USB points at every seat enabling guests to remain connected through their mobiles and smart phones. And with an onboard inflight entertainment system offering hundreds of hours of free programs, international movies, live TV news and sports channels, interactive games, and music in every seat, guests are able to keep themselves busy throughout their journey without the need of a laptop or tablet.

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways Chief Executive Officer, said: “We remain committed to ensuring we provide guests the highest levels of service and quality experience that we are renowned for, at Abu Dhabi International Airport and throughout their journey to minimize the impact of the new measures.

“Etihad Airways offers excellent facilities on the ground at Abu Dhabi International Airport and inflight to keep guests entertained during their journey. While we are communicating the new directive to guests before they begin their travels to the US, we are implementing a number of measures at Abu Dhabi International Airport to ease the process. We continue to work with the relevant authorities and advise guests to comply with the directive to ensure a smooth and uninterrupted journey to the United States.

In addition to the onboard offering, all cabins have a selection of digital lifestyle magazines that can be viewed for free on a smartphone via the Wi-Fly homepage. A variety of printed international magazines and newspapers are also available for guests travelling in the premium cabins.

Children receive a kid’s pack with games and toys, and there is a Flying Nanny on board to assist parents.

At Abu Dhabi International Airport, passengers have access to free Wi-Fi. Guests travelling in the premium cabins can use Etihad Airways’ lounges. For those with sufficient time before departure, guests can pay for access to Etihad’s Business Class lounge in Terminals 1 and 3 which offer computer terminals, Wi-Fi, business facilities, and a wide selection of newspapers, business and lifestyle magazines, international cuisine, shower rooms and children’s play rooms.

First and Business Class guests are also able to use the US Premium Lounge located after the US Immigration checks at Terminal 3.

Guests are able to purchase extra baggage allowance at a discount on airport rates by booking online at etihad.com; through an Etihad Airways reservation office; or via a call center. In addition, Silver, Gold and Platinum members of Etihad Guest, the airline’s loyalty program, are entitled to extra free baggage allowance.

While Abu Dhabi International Airport is not listed for a similar ban related to direct flights operating to the United Kingdom, enhanced security screening is likely for guests travelling to London, Manchester and Edinburgh.

Etihad Airways operates 45 flights a week between Abu Dhabi and six cities across the United States – namely New York, Washington, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

For any further updates on the new directive and our policies, guests are advised to check Etihad Airways’ website at etihad.com

A ROAM analysis would make take this more directly to its destination

Who is this press release for? What is it supposed to do? Lack of clarity about readers generates passive voice, while unclear objectives make for jumbled content. To fix these problems, do a ROAM analysis.

Readers: Etihad flyers (and reporters who write about air travel)

Objective: Clarify what the ban covers and how Etihad is helping.

Action: Get flyers to remain loyal to Etihad.

Impression: Etihad does everything possible to create an excellent flying experience.

The best way for Etihad to accomplish these goals is to list the elements of the ban and the ways that it makes things easier — and to speak directly to flyers. So here’s a rewrite of the release that’s much shorter, more direct, and in active voice.

How Etihad Airways is helping travelers deal with the ban on passengers’ electronic devices

Starting on March 25, Etihad will comply with new US rules about electronic devices, which ban anything larger than a smart phone in the cabin on flights from Abu Dhabi to the U.S. Here’s what Etihad passengers flying to the U.S. need to know about the ban:

  • You must pack laptop computers, tablets including iPads, gaming devices, cameras, and e-readers in your checked-in luggage.
  • If you’re connecting through Abu Dhabi, you must check these devices at the point of origin of your flight.
  • If you forget, we’ll have to put your device in a padded envelope and place it in the storage hold — we’ll get it back to you when you land.
  • You can’t fly with spare battery packs larger than a mobile phone, either on board or in your luggage.
  • It’s likely the same rules will also soon apply on flights to the UK.

We recognize that this is an inconvenience, so we’ve taken steps to make things easier as you board and more entertaining during the long flight.

  • We clear passengers through U.S. customs in Abu Dhabi, before you board. We’ve added signs to clarify the policy and staff to help smooth the process of checking electronics.
  • Our flights have power, USB chargers, and WiFi at every seat, so you can entertain yourself or do work with your smart phone.
  • Our inflight entertainment system offers each passenger hundreds of hours of free programs, international movies, live TV news and sports channels, interactive games, and music.
  • If you’re flying with kids, we provide a pack with toys and games and Flying Nanny to help you out.
  • We also provide digital magazines and, for our flyers in the premium cabin, printed newspapers and magazines.

For more information, go to Etihad.com.

That’s shorter, clearer, better organized and more likely create the loyalty that Etihad is seeking.

If you can’t figure out how to organize what you’re writing, do a ROAM analysis. Then you’ll know what to keep, what to ditch, how to write it, and how to organize it to accomplish your goals.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.