Last updated: 02:00 PM ET, Thu May 05 2016

United Launches In-Flight Gift Giving Service in Time for Mother's Day

Airlines & Airports | United Airlines | Josh Lew | May 05, 2016

United Launches In-Flight Gift Giving Service in Time for Mother's Day

Mother’s Day gift giving can be difficult. The usual suspects — flowers, chocolates, greeting cards, brunch — are probably appreciated, but it’s not always possible to do something memorable. This is especially the case for adult children whose mothers might not be in the same city (or even on the same continent). 

United Airlines has announced a way that sons and daughters can make a memorable Mother’s Day gift-receiving experience for their globetrotting parent. United is using Mother’s Day to launch a new in-flight gift giving program, which it calls “Celebrate.” 

The idea for “Celebrate” came from one of the airline's employees, a former customer service rep named Mary Bucher. Bucher explained how witnessing an in-flight surprise earlier in her career gave her the inspiration for the new service. “I was working as a Customer Service Representative many years ago and witnessed a surprise bottle of champagne being delivered onboard a flight to a honeymooning couple… All these years I’ve always thought, ‘That’s something we should do.’”

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Mother’s Day is an obvious choice for such in-flight surprises. However, United’s Celebrate idea will extend beyond the second Sunday of this month. Bucher says that the service is appropriate for any time that someone wants to give “chocolates or a special gift to present to their loved one or business associate on an airplane during their travel?” 

To give a gift to a traveling mom this weekend, people can go to the "Celebrate" section of On this site, they can select a gift, have it wrapped and even attach a personalized card. Their selection will be delivered to mom's seat by a flight attendant. 

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This is an interesting idea that could also be useful for other things like surprise birthday presents, a honeymoon sendoff gift or a token item to impress a business client or associate. 

It is also yet another example of how airlines are getting more creative when it comes to finding additional revenue streams. Bucher’s idea puts a more positive spin on the sometimes annoying practice of pushing in-flight duty free items on international fliers. 

Ideally, from a fliers perspective, services like United’s Celebrate are the start of a movement by airlines to put a more customer-friendly face on their up-selling efforts. Optional services like this are certainly preferable to extra fees and other a la carte pricing practices. 

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