Ad-Supported In-Flight Lunch: Are You on Board?

If you've flown in an airplane recently, you've probably paid extra for things that used to be free, like carry-on bags or in-flight food and drinks. Looking to buck that trend of charging passengers ad infinitum, Horizon Air (operated by Alaska) found a somewhat clever way to deliver free meals—without going out of business. PSFK explains:

The carrier has partnered with marketing firm, Air Advertainment, to distribute “free” branded snack boxes on its flights. The effort takes the ad-supported model that has been a successful means of delivering content on the web and repackages it for an offline demographic. A rather smart move considering that the target audience is both a) captive and b) likely very hungry.
PSFK notes that when in-seat entertainment and WiFi become standard, "it will open even more opportunities to expand on the model, talking to potential customers in even more tailored ways." That, unfortunately, is probably true.

Everyone loves free stuff, but most people hate intrusive ads, so I wonder whether this is what Umair Haque refers to as "unnovation," or "innovation that fails to create authentic meaningful value." When you off-set the cost of the food for the airline and the passengers, you don't necessarily improve the food (or the ads). I for one would much rather pay for something I want (good food with no advertisements) than receive something I don't want for free.