You Won’t Believe What Happened Next After How Surprised I Was With These — Especially With #2

truly dislike when a headline I read “shouts out” at me, supposing and assuming what I will do and how I will feel…

…and if you are a regular reader of The Gate, you know that I typically do not use headlines — such as the one above — with the sole purpose of “baiting” you to click on it; and I would not be surprised if you were surprised that I happened to use it.

In fact, I am so ashamed of the headline that I used for this article, you should not be reading it. On second thought, do not click on it at all.

Oh, wait…too late for that, huh?!?

I have read many articles about how pervasive is “click-bait” around the Internet — such as this one written by Mark Palmer of travelblawg: “I don’t care if ‘what happens next will surprise you!’ or if ‘#7 with blow your mind!’ or ‘then the cutest thing ever happened!’” — and I completely agree that the use of “click-bait” needs to be reigned in.

Despite all of the complaints I see pertaining to click-bait on the Internet, I rarely see criticism when click-bait is used in certain other forms — one of which I will address later on in this article.

What is Click-Bait?

Click-bait — also referred to as click bait or clickbait — is a term which describes headlines that are purposely written with just enough information to pique the curiosity of the reader, compelling the reader to click on the headline to read the content of the article in order to satisfy that curiosity; but the content of the article typically does not include enough information and therefore fails to satisfy that curiosity, leaving the reader frustrated.

Intended to generate revenue from advertising as a result of the number of “clicks” associated with where the advertising is placed, click-bait relies on provocative or sensationalistic headlines which combine “yellow journalism” — articles containing little to no relevant content with the express purpose of selling publications under the guise of legitimate journalism — with stealth marketing.

I generally eschew click-bait when writing articles for The Gate primarily because I want you to trust the content I post; and in my opinion, using click-bait tends to erode that trust. If I write a headline which is catchy, I want you to be satisfied that the content you read indeed provides you with information, education or entertainment.

Click-Bait Used for E-Mail Messages From Airlines

The reason why I wrote this particular article is because I checked my e-mail messages earlier today and found e-mail messages from all three legacy airlines based in the United States. The titles of the messages are indicated by the red arrows in each of the following images:

1. United Airlines

Click on the image to view a larger version.
“RE: Your remaining vacation days for 2015“: click on the image to view a larger version.

I expect “spam” e-mail messages to use an RE: to try to fool me into thinking that I am receiving a response to an e-mail message which I sent; and in this case, I had not sent an e-mail message to United Airlines recently — especially not United Vacations. Vacation packages offered by airlines never interest me, as I have never seen the value in them for my travel purposes.

By the way, I gave some advice in this article on how to tell if an e-mail message is “spam.”

I do not expect legitimate companies to resort to tactics such as to “pretend” to respond to communication from me. There are better and more effective ways to market what United Vacations is selling, in my opinion.

Trivia: Did you know that United Vacations was once operated by MLT Vacations — which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines — as recently as last year?

Speaking of Delta Air Lines…

2. Delta Air Lines

Click on the image to view a larger version.
“Brian, This You Have To See”: click on the image to view a larger version.

The headline from this e-mail message truly surprised me — and not in a pleasant way. The e-mail message pertained to one of those auctions which are designed to pry as many SkyMiles from the “winner” of the auction as possible. The auction itself is legitimate; but I have never been interested in participating in one.

I have flown as a passenger on airplanes operated by Delta Air Lines recently; so I thought that if I had to see what was in that message, it would have been something important or useful to me. Not this time.

Do I trust the next e-mail message from Delta Air Lines which might have a similar generic headline compelling me to read the content of the e-mail message? Is this the same Delta Air Lines which reportedly attempted to apply for the trademark as the world’s most trusted airline last year?

By the way, Randy Petersen — who is the founder of BoardingAreastill occasionally teases me about that article…

3. American Airlines

Click on the image to view a larger version.
“Get in on the secret: Check inside for exclusive savings”: click on the image to view a larger version.

The title of this e-mail message is arguably the least nefarious of the three highlighted in this article; but still: “Get in on the secret”?!?

So what was the actual “secret?” I have no idea. In order to find out, I had to go through the process of booking a vacation package through American Airlines Vacations; and for the same reason I imparted pertaining to United Vacations, I had no interest in wasting my time.

Do not bother finding a discussion posted on Milepoint or FlyerTalk with this particular “secret” as the topic; nor should you expect to find a weblog featuring it as well. Why? Because virtually nobody cares. Maybe that is why it is considered a “secret” in the first place? Perhaps this is the reason for the click-bait headline?

I guess I breached the trust of American Airlines, because it ain’t no “secret” no more! Shame on me. I am not concerned, because the “secret” is apparently open to anyone anyway — further solidifying my belief that the title of the e-mail message was little more than click-bait. Some “secret.”


Admittedly, the use of click-bait is nothing new when it comes to the e-mail messages sent out by airlines — especially when it happens to be a “vacations” or “auctions” subsidiary. Regardless of whether or not the misleading titles are written by either a contractor or someone who works for a subsidiary of an airline, it still reflects upon the brand of the airline itself — especially when its logo is plastered in the e-mail message.

I suppose that I will need to maintain perspective and manage expectations better to mitigate or avoid disappointment when I open a similar e-mail message in the future — if I decide to open one, depending on my suspicion or skepticism.

I do not mind them trying to sell me something. Just be more honest about it. Is that too much to ask?

Unfortunately — as with “spam” — click-bait will not go away anytime soon as long as people keep falling for it and feeding into it.

Oh — and what happened next, as is alluded by the headline of this article?

Simple. I wrote this article and posted it.

I told you that you would not believe it…

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