September 5, 2019
REN beauty products: natural, vegan, good for your skin, good for the planet. @BambuuBrush: a toothbrush with a bamboo handle that can be disposed of in compost, activated charcoal infused PBT bristles that help whiten your teeth and 100% biodegradable packaging. An incredibly comfortable total blackout eye mask. Real socks, in beautiful themed designs. And a Virgin Atlantic pen made mostly of recycled paper. All this, wrapped up in a handy reusable and stylish bag made of eco wonder material kraft paper. Welcome to the world’s most sustainable airline amenity kit. It’s so different we’re calling it our ‘goodie bag’.
Ideally, we want to get to a point where we can personalise amenity kits and offer our customers only the items that they need. But until we can do that, we wanted to define what makes a good amenity kit. The best ones contain bits and bobs you might find useful during your flight, give you somewhere to store your cables, makeup or trinkets, and are so well designed you genuinely want to hang on to them when you land. But the thing is, if you look at the amenity kits of all the world’s major airlines – and believe us, we have – they are depressingly similar. They also contain an inexcusable amount of single-use plastic – something preying on the mind of product manager Katerina Orfanidi and her team as they set about reinventing the onboard amenity kit for a new generation of clued-up, eco conscious consumers.
The target for the team was to get it on board for our first commercial A350 flight. Bringing a new aircraft like our Airbus A350 into service is a mammoth task. But it’s also a huge opportunity. It’s a time to look at every single element of your flying experience. To start from scratch and see where we could be different and better. Katerina’s mission was to create an amenity kit like no other, not just for you, our customers, but for the planet. Our new amenity kit changes the game so much we’ve given it a different name: the goodie bag. Here’s why.
The selection process was long and complex, with different brands and products competing for a coveted place in the bag. Katerina spent months searching for the best items, helped by her customer experience colleague Judy Cheney, Andrew Smith from inflight services, and Rebecca Creer from our Clubhouse team. Every item was carefully selected from hundreds of products sent in for assessment, including a mountain of sock samples.
“We wanted them to be the most sustainable airline amenity kits in the world,” said Katerina. “Our new aircraft have been a catalyst for change which has enabled us to question everything we carry and look at a new set of products that are sustainable but not a compromise on quality. We know our customers are going to love these items, and as a result, will be more likely to keep and reuse them.”.
Pulling all this together and organising the logistics is our partner company Galileo Watermark, who helped us source and bring together all the different parts of the goodie bags. The company specialise in high quality airline and travel amenities and were responsible for our first ever amenity kits onboard. “It’s always been really exciting for us to work with Virgin Atlantic,” said UK and Ireland sales director Sue McClure. “It’s been particularly rewarding to work on a project involving genuinely sustainable solutions, and we’re proud to have co-created a ‘goodie bag’ that lives up to its name inside and out!”
"Once you put them on we hope you'll never wear another airline's sleep mask, and you would take it with you on other airlines’ flights too" Katerina
There are two goodie bags, one for Upper Class and one for Premium with a selection of items also available on request for our economy customers.
The goodie bags are the perfect size to fit an iPad mini, your phone or passport, and are made from responsibly sourced recycled kraft paper. If you’re not familiar with kraft paper, it’s not really like paper at all. It’s a hard-wearing, water-resistant, reusable material made from natural materials with a carbon footprint 2.5 times smaller than plastic equivalent, giving it both eco cred and the cool factor.
For all its innovation, the goodie bag is one of those rare occasions where we don’t want to be better than other airlines. We’d like nothing more than to see all airlines – especially those really big ones– invest in greener products, adopt our stance on driving single use plastics off flights, and change the world one toothbrush or hand cream at a time. Any takers?
The goodie bag will make its debut on our Airbus A350 flights and will gradually appear on other flights as stock of our old (but still really nice) amenity kits runs down.