Taking advantage of the lasting popularity of airport memorabilia, Airports Council International—North America is working on a set of trading cards with some of its members. You can give STL credit for the idea.
Hey, you got an MKE I can trade for an ATL?
Trading cards, especially baseball and basketball cards, still hold a timeless cultural cachet in the online age. Cards, often valued much more for their scarcity and prominence than for their materials, are still a prominent niche collectible, even as the internet has changed the nature of sports fandom, along with everything else.
Which makes cards a perfect promotional tool for the Airports Council International—North America (ACI-NA), a trade group that represents airport facilities. A number of airports in the U.S. and Canada—including the highly trafficked Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and the smaller General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) in Milwaukee—are taking part in the campaign. The airports are handing out the cards to visitors.
ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin Burke says that the card strategy is a good reminder of the interconnectedness of the airport system with the rest of the world, as well as the local community’s role in making that connection happen.
“Airports don’t get the attention they deserve, and trading cards are one way to illustrate the importance of an airport in a community, especially the airport’s economic contribution,” Burke told USA Today.
The campaign, which originated with an idea from staff at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL), also highlights the popularity of collectibles among enthusiasts—yes, there are people who get excited about airport memorabilia.
“We are inundated by requests from airport and aviation fans all over the world for anything that carries our STL airport code,” STL Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge said in a statement. “We led the effort to create the trading card series with ACI-NA to satisfy the great demand out there by collectors. More importantly, the trading cards will connect collectors with the unique stories of each airport to the larger network of aviation, which is so important to communities across North America.”
It’s only one of the latest ways that airports are looking to leverage their International Air Transport Association–sanctioned airport codes for promotional purposes. For example, you may not travel through Iowa’s Sioux Gateway Airport often, but if you’re a collector, there’s a pretty good reason to stop by: The airport’s IATA code is SUX, and the airport (of course) sells swag highlighting that fact.