With the Festive Season and old year behind us, it is time to move forward to face what will undoubtedly be a challenging period for onboard Amenity Kits.
On reflection, I am sure the last decade will be remembered as the “Golden Era” for passenger amenities, especially the luxury ‘branded’ Amenity Kits. During the difficulties of recent times, I have continued to read numerous articles, liaised with Suppliers and had discussions with various Airlines about the potential future of the Amenity Kit – bearing in mind purpose, design and functionality.
I have noted that Airlines are continuing to reduce their stockpiles of onboard amenities, but there are still a few product launches taking place, and Airlines are beginning to release Tenders. However, I feel that it will be at least six months before these Tenders come to fruition and the next generation of Amenity Kits is launched onboard.
I applaud the Industry for showing outstanding initiative and innovation, culminating in the introduction of PPE kits eighteen months ago :
- FORMIA launched the Clean Kit range
- WESSCO International introduced the Travelshield Brand
- MATRIX implemented the Be Clean Co Brand
- LINSTOL teamed with Aerocare and Dettol (then introduced onboard by SAUDI and BRITISH AIRWAYS)
The main criteria today for onboard passenger amenities is clearly focused on hygiene, wellness and sustainability. Interestingly, TravelPlus carried out an Insight Survey in 2019 which revealed that more than eighty percent of Business Class Kits contained numerous plastic items, from the actual packaging to toothbrushes and combs.
However, I am confident that Airlines will quickly change to using more sustainable and eco-friendly materials such as recycled paper packaging, bamboo and corn starch, along with other new materials coming to the market. In the near future, I expect PPE kits will continue to be provided alongside existing Amenity Kits.
The current main issue is how to incorporate PPE products, such as hand sanitisers, antiseptic wipes and face masks – with luxury brand cosmetics, socks, eye masks and dental kits – all within a desirable and functional bag.
Airlines need to play their part by ensuring the Amenity Bag has a further use and/or is collectible. A recent example of this was the new Kit from JETBLUE, where the bag
(a pouch) doubles as a re-usable storage bag. It is extremely durable, developed from platinum silicon (a non-toxic material that is not only made to last and easy to clean, but is dishwasher, microwave and freezer friendly).
Consideration also needs to be given to both Airlines and Suppliers Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Programmes. These Programmes are regarded as key market differentiators for business as more consumers seek products from responsible Companies. It comes as no surprise that significant efforts are currently being taken to incorporate sustainability within the supply chain. Add to this the desire to include more passenger wellness products – for example, aromatherapy balms, oxygen mists with hydration powders and tablets. In relation to this, Suppliers will be tested to the limit over the next few years.
In this regard, it is not expected that Airlines will be investing more at this time, but it is not sustainable for Suppliers to have their margins continually restricted. I believe now is the time for Airlines to truly evaluate their passenger amenity offering across all classes, and embrace change. Simultaneously, the Suppliers must guide and advise Airlines on new materials and products as they become available.
As for the future of luxury brand partnerships, the “Jury is out” as Airlines must focus on restoring passenger confidence based on safety and wellness. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Airlines could offer passengers an individual and personal choice of amenities prior to boarding – using similar technology already in place for onboard meals and, I am sure logistics could be overcome. Also, certain items such as dental kits, could be placed in toilets onboard. Therefore, these items could be removed from First and Business Class bags, and items such as socks, eye masks and hairbrushes made available to passengers on request.
To summarise, I am very optimistic and excited about what is to come in this new chapter of Onboard Passenger Amenities, particularly the ‘cherished’ Amenity Kit. I am confident that Suppliers will rise to the challenges that lie ahead, and Airlines will adapt to the demands of their guests.
That said, we are not “out of the woods” yet! We are all awaiting the return of the lucrative business traveller and, hopefully, this will build steadily as we progress through 2022.