Over the last few years, airlines have been giving out premium bedding to their customers, partially as a way to lure back people who are starting to fly on different airlines.
While it’s definitely a great idea (who wouldn’t want to sleep with a brand-new, comfy pillow on a Transatlantic flight?) there’s one issue: People are taking them home.
This all started around two years ago, when United announced they were partnering with Saks Fifth avenue to provide premium pillows, blankets, and more to their business class customers. Soon after, the luxurious bedding started disappearing at a fast rate; customers were presumably stealing them.
It’s not just United facing this issue. More and more airlines—like American Airlines and British Airways— are providing their passengers with high-end bedding, ranging from Saks to Casper, to White Co., so they can sleep better in-flight. These products are also disappearing once people de-plane.
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Nick Richards, director of premium services and customer experience strategy at American Airlines noted the stealing “is a huge problem right now.”
Still, is it really stealing? The jury is undecided, as most flight attendants and airline crews will simply turn the other way if they see a passenger leaving with a pillow or blanket.
Harry Zalk, who is the commercial director at Matrix (the firm that paired White Co. with British Airways) explains:
“There is something about the business and first class environments, whereby the cabin crew don’t like to say no, and in many cases the airlines also don’t like to say no,” Zalk said. “I’m sure there are moments when people are caught stealing and maybe the cabin crew turned a blind eye because with a luxury passenger in a luxury cabin, you’re ideally not telling them what to do.”
Yet, there’s a catch.
While they’re not knock-offs, the items aren’t an exact replication of what you would be able to buy in a store or online. Instead, they’re special models specifically made for commercial use. So instead of getting a pillow made of delicate yarn that has to be dry-cleaned, your pillow will be made of different materials so it can be thrown in the washer after every flight.
It does make these products last though. British Airways used their White Co. bedding for 50 flights before they were replaced.
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At the end of the day, taking pillows and blankets off of flights could be telling of two things. One: People value good sleep products, and they might be taking them home in hopes to sleep better. And two: Maybe taking a Casper pillow or a White Co. blanket home helps these brands out—if people see them every night they go to sleep, they might be more apt to buy more from the brand.
Featured image: @casper on Instagram