I started a thread on Flyteralk last year to solicit ideas for an awesome airline amenity bag with stuff you could actually use. I got back lots of good feedback, so I’m putting it all together here for discussion.
No doubt, it costs the airline money to create these amenity bags. In our era of austerity and economic bad times, it must be difficult to justify giving these to customers when they rarely ask for them. Harder still, when they are full of crap that nobody actually uses. True, they’ve become product placement and promotional vehicles for health & beauty brands but, still, they require some child labourer on minimum wage to assemble them well into the night. So, why don’t we at least make them as awesome as possible!
Here’s what I’d like to see in my amenity bag:
- multi-country AC adapter. Not glamorous, I know, but very practical. How often have you arrived at your destination to realise you don’t have the right plugs for your laptop, or hair dryer?
- water purifier, or tablets… if I’m going somewhere where the water is unsafe (check out lifestraw).
- pack-flat sunglasses (check out Nannini). I’m always forgetting (or leaving mine) behind somewhere. Plus, the regular ones are easy to crush and break (when sat upon). Price sensitive? Let’s be honest, even designer sunglasses only cost a few dollars to manufacture. How nice a surprise would this be?
- complete local knowledge on a USB stick. Granted, a downloadable App or eBook might be more practical (check out Luxe Guides) but having a branded USB stick allows you to get the stick for free (promotion from a third-party), pack it full of goodies and give the customer something that they can continue to use in future. You could cram all sorts of things onto one of these: dictionary/phrasebook, night-life guide, local maps, etc.
- local pay-as-you go SIM card (see Mr Sim, or a global SIM from Tru). How many times did you wish you had a local SIM with some credit already on it? You could then easily make local calls at local prices and use a local phone number to top-up. This would save a lot of time scrambling around at the other end looking for one. In fact, with the price of cheap phones, they could probably even throw in the phone for business class customers.
- first aid kit. You never know when you’ll get into some trouble. It could also have local doctor and hospital numbers – especially for medical staff that speak multiple languages.
- USB rechargeable AA batteries. Why not supply batteries that never run out of juice, like these ones. Just plug them into a USB port to recharge.
- rechargeable debit card. I like the idea of using plastic on holiday, instead of carrying around a lot of cash… but I don’t want to be a victim of fraud. There are lots of rechargeable debit cards coming onto the market that can be topped up by phone, or over the Internet. Why not supply us with one of these with a token amount of money already on them to get us started?
- WiFi access credentials (like an account with Boingo). If you’re going to a country that has lots of wireless hotspots provided by a local telecom, then why not give us credits to use right away – with our own login and password. These could be provided on a scratch card that already has some initial value to get us started.
- Sunscreen. This would be a good opportunity for a vendor to promote their products, which the airline could get for free.
- Electric toothbrush. Fun, handy and practical.
- Assorted Health & Beauty items: Dental floss, deoderant, hair brush, portable tissue pack.
Or, if you’re not a big fan of everything on my list, why don’t the airlines give the customer a choice from a list to build their own kit? This way they can mix-and-match exactly what they want prior to boarding.