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How Did Virgin Atlantic Address Passengers Stealing Their Salt and Peppers Shakers?

The temptation to keep a small souvenir of an enjoyable air travel experience is real, and theft is a problem for some airlines. Virgin Atlantic encountered this issue on their salt and pepper pots, but how did they resolve it?

Passengers on Virgin Atlantic kept stealing their famous salt and pepper shakers. Rather than removing them from the plane, they scribbled “pinched from Virgin Atlantic” at the bottom. The shakers were then used as conversation pieces at dinner parties and for free advertising.

What are the Most Frequently Stolen Items on Commercial Flights?

Have you ever stowed an airline pillow under your arm or slipped a spoon into your suitcase while deplaning? You’re not by yourself. Highly detailed studies reveal that the traveling public is most interested in stealing airline blankets, cutlery, safety cards, and life vests, in that order.

While keeping a small souvenir of an enjoyable air travel experience is tempting, some airlines have a high theft rate of particular items. And while there may be rules and penalties in place to prevent passengers from walking off the plane with things such as life vests and galley carts, the value of smaller soft products often varies with the attitudes of flight attendants.

Here are a few airlines and their most stolen items: 

Finnair: Marimekko crockery

Finnair is so proud of their home country’s design heritage that they’ve collaborated with pattern designer Marimekko and fine tableware producer Iittala. Special-liveried aircraft promote the former collaboration in particular, but smaller interior accents bring these icons of Finnish design to passengers’ tray tables.

The airline made select items available through a duty-free catalog and pre-purchase to keep the limited Marimekko-for-Finnair crockery and Iittala crystal out of passengers’ pockets. For 25 €, you can own your own Ultima Thule sparkling wine set or an 80 € Marimekko teapot. Furthermore, for economy passengers who lack the audacity to steal a blanket outright, a thin blanket and a cheap fill pillow can be legally purchased for 5 €. (Source: Runway Girl Network

Etihad: Plush duvets

Calum Laming, VP of customer experience at Etihad Airways, detailed to Runway Girl Network some of the favorite soft aspects of the premium experience for their passengers during a visit to Etihad’s Innovation Centre this fall.

The business class duvet has been the most popular thing I’ve been a part of in my aviation customer experience career because I know how many of those get stolen every day.

How many exactly? “A lot.”

  • Calum Laming, Vice President of Customer Experience, Etihad Airways

The resale market is also hungry for them, with recently sold Etihad blankets fetching $130 each on eBay. The popularity of these blankets, with their stitched duvet top layer and ultra-plush faux fur underside, hasn’t gone unnoticed by competitor Emirates Airline, which recently announced the introduction of similar faux-sheepskin blankets in First Class. (Source: Runway Girl Network

Virgin Atlantic: Salt and Pepper pots

Another Airline that experienced this is the Virgin Atlantic. Their passengers keep taking their Salt and Pepper Shakers. But instead of removing them. They take advantage of their popularity and make them free advertisements instead. (Source: Fast Company

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