JUNE 18, 2018
Light-fingered passengers flying first and business class are behind a mile-high pilfering epidemic, filching the high-value luxury treats available in their opulent cabins.
Some airlines are now reassessing their offerings available to their top-notch customers that include luxury blankets, pyjamas and designer perfume bottles that are exiting their planes, along with the passengers, on a grand scale.
Virgin Airlines is missing 1,700 lightweight blankets since the start of the year and have become so inured to the purloining of their distinctive ‘jet engine’ salt and pepper shakers that it now marks them with a tongue-in-cheek “Pinched from Virgin Atlantic” logo. Some 26,700 sets have gone missing over the last 12 months, the airline says.
According to The Times, British Airways, which offers its premium customers soft blankets with satin trim and padded mattress covers designed by The White Company, said: “We encourage passengers to try to grab 40 winks when they fly with us, rather than the bedding.”
Meanwhile, the well-heeled passengers are not only swiping all the cool, free stuff they can lay their hands on but are also known to try to profit from their misdemeanors by selling them online. Sites such as eBay feature BA blankets and Bulgari amenity bags made for Emirates. Etihad’s business class velvet plush throw sells for more than $130.
With first class and premium flights costing thousands of dollars, the moneyed fliers appear to have a sense of entitlement to the freebies they stuff in their hand luggage. “Almost anything that is not nailed down will at some point disappear,” Henry Harteveldt, a travel-industry analyst and former airline marketing manager, told the WSJ.
Whilst many airlines take a tolerant approach to their prosperous plunderers (indeed, premium cabins account for 5.5% of international passenger traffic, but more than 30% of revenue, according to the WSJ), some have started dropping subtle hints at the excessive souvenir hunting. According to the WSJ, United Airlines’ in-flight menus pointedly highlight which items are free and where they can buy the rest.