The recent global health crisis has brought the topic of infectious disease and epidemiology to the forefront of our collective consciousness. Never before have we all been so aware of the risks of infection and its spread while in the public realm – including within airports and aircraft. With this in mind, airline amenity kits are a way to make passengers feel welcome and cared for. So could face masks be the next item included in these kits?
Our “question of the day” was sparked by Angelina Aucello’s tweet and prediction on amenity kits in the future. Here is what she envisions for 2021:
My speculation is that 2021 airline amenity kits will include: hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and a face mask. Thoughts?
— Angelina Aucello (@angelinaaucello) April 12, 2020
Why amenity kits exist in the first place
Maybe this is getting too deep and philosophical – but we should first ask ourselves what the purpose of amenity kits are. Figuring this out will help us determine if face masks will be included.
From our perspective, these are some of the reasons airlines distribute amenity kits:
- A gesture of hospitality and welcome (everyone loves free stuff!)
- To make the flight and travel experience more comfortable.
- A marketing and co-branding opportunity with other brands
Outside of these reasons, amenity kits are an expense for the airline. There is a cost in acquiring the “pieces” of the kit; there is the labor involved in “assembling” them and getting everything packed up together. There is the flight attendant time needed to distribute and collect them (as many are picked apart, with items often left on the aircraft). Of course, with this comes the environmental cost of a small bag full of mostly single-use items.
Therefore, everything that goes into an amenity kit must have its value to the passenger and achieve one of the three points listed above. Would face masks count too?
Why face masks wouldn’t be included
From our perspective, face masks shouldn’t be included in amenity kits. Not if only a select group of travelers will get them.
The primary purpose of face masks is to prevent the transmission of airborne disease. If only first and business class passengers receive face masks via amenity kits, it sends the message that public health is exclusively for passengers who paid more for their flight.
Therefore, if airlines are concerned about the health and safety of their passengers, face masks should be distributed to all passengers of a flight. In essence, the same way flight attendants might distribute headsets.
However, if airlines can provide face masks for all classes and cabins on a flight, then we think providing a higher-quality mask in the amenity kit could be a way to achieve one or more of the goals listed above.
Perhaps we could see boutique/designer masks with exciting patterns or graphics. Or just a small and tastefully placed logo on the corner of the mask. This would certainly achieve the goal of marketing and co-branding.
Do you agree with our assessment of masks in amenity kits? Is there something we missed? Let us know in the comments.