The amenity kit is a staple of long haul travel especially in the premium classes. These kits are designed to make your travel experience more comfortable. As a general rule they contain at the very least socks, an eye mask, toothbrush, toothpaste and ear plugs. Most will also contain lip balm, moisturiser, a pen and whatever magic cream is in vogue at the moment among the jetset.
Kits are often made in conjunction with a local designer who is using the opportunity to show off their wares. Once the preserve of first class and business class, amenity kits are now found all the way back to economy class on long haul flights – albeit in much stripped down form. It begs the question though, should people pay for these?
Wait, no really!
Think about how wasteful the amenity kit actually is. Everything contained within is usually a one use only deal. The toothbrush and toothpaste are single use without a doubt. The socks could be reused, but who sleeps with an airline eye mask when not flying? Not me. I would be hard pressed to use the ear plugs again too.
I am the kind of person who likes to use everything but I find it a bit of an effort to remember to finish off the items in my kits. That’s if I remember to get them out and use them at all. Some of them are languishing in my wardrobe where they were thrown during the last post flight unpacking.
Passengers will always take an amenity kit off the cabin crew but a quick survey of a cabin post flight is quite revealing. Some are unopened, some are opened and left on seats and some are taken away by passengers. It must be tiresome for the very frequent flyer to receive the same kit flight after flight after flight.
Enterprising souls have taken to selling unwanted amenity kits on eBay as there is a market for them. Regardless, environmentally it’s all a bit of a disaster – decadent western waste at its finest. We give you something you might not need, you take it, and even if you don’t use it, it will be thrown into a bin. Terrible!
Charging For An Amenity Kit – The Solution?
In this age of ancillary revenue, perhaps the solution is to sell the kits on board. People with a burning need for an eye mask or socks or a toothbrush should purchase the kit. Perhaps it could be an option in the booking process like extra baggage. I hazard a guess that it would cut down on the waste.
Obviously charging is not a catch all solution as business class and first class passengers would revolt as it is expected to be included in the price of the ticket. What to do about the waste though?
I have two solutions. First, amenity kits could be an on request item. Those that want them need to ask for them rather than being proactively offered them. This will prevent people from taking them just because they can when they have no intention of using them.
Second, perhaps some kind of set up could be arranged in cabin. A place where you can grab a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush if you want one, or get that lip balm if your lips are feeling dry. An amenity bar, if you will. Either that or placing them in the useless areas in some toilets, such as the place where you can get a paper cup – who in their right mind would take a paper cup to drink from that is dispensed in a toilet stall!
Amenity kits can be very cool and I particularly like to get a snazzy looking good quality one. Still, a solution needs to be found to stop the waste and any airline that prides itself on its environmental credentials should look at options here.
What do you think? Wasteful or a required product when flying? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave any comments or questions below. Thanks for reading!
Featured image via Qantas. All other images by the airline mentioned.