September 8 2020  |  Amenities & Comfort

PAX Panel: Amenities and comfort in the post-COVID cabin

By PAX Panel

PAX Panel presents the first installment of the virtual roundtable discussion series, featuring representatives from LSG Group's SPIRIANT, Air Canada and TAP Air Portugal

PAX International released today the first installment of PAX Panel, its new virtual roundtable discussion series. Entitled PAX Panel: Amenities and comfort in the post-COVID cabin, this episode covers the future of inflight amenities and passenger comfort for when the industry takes to the skies again.

In the Panel, PAX International Editor Jane Hobson speaks with Angie Fung, Managing Director Asia-Pacific, SPIRIANT; Addy Ng, Design Director, Amenities, SPIRIANT; Andrew Yiu, Vice President of Product, Air Canada; and Joel Fragata, Head of In-Flight Product, TAP Air Portugal. With the end of the pandemic up in the air, the panelists discuss how safety and hygiene are top of mind for airlines and amenity kit providers – but that the importance of luxury details that have driven amenity kit design over the past few years has not been forgotten.

At Air Canada, Yiu says much of the development of current amenity offerings was done in-house. He predicts that products and contents of the company’s amenity kits will change little in the short term, as the world waits on a COVID-19 vaccine.

“As we start to plan the next couple years, we think it is going to be less about luxury and more about well-being in the amenity kit items,” says Yiu.

While the thinking is much the same across the ocean in Portugal, this week TAP launched its back-to-normal service initiative where passengers will see a balance of necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) teamed in Business Class with a selection of products from the Portuguese fragrance and candle maker Castelbel. Fragata said that although passengers need to feel safe while flying, those in the front cabin environment will also want to see product differentiation. Passengers are flying much less for business, but the challenges for making products that are collectible, environmentally sustainable and desirable remain.

“People are behaving in a very different way onboard since this pandemic started and so of course there are new habits, news necessities and new obligations for the airlines,” says Fragata.

With a foothold in the Asian market, and a big logistical partner in Lufthansa German Airlines, LSG Group’s SPIRIANT was able to quickly adapt to the change in demand, says Fung. Maneuvering the many government regulations, licenses and certifications that exist country to country is an important skill learned over the years.

“For us it was not much of a challenge because we were already working with these suppliers,” she says.

But, what will remain a challenge for companies like SPIRIANT will be combining products, materials and designs that match a younger, more conscious consumer that is looking for products that reflect a new set of priorities. Commercial aviation has been watching the demographic board aircraft for years. In a post-pandemic world, those social priorities could be even more pronounced.

“When I am designing, it is not enough to have luxury brands or have [amenity kits] look luxurious,” says Ng. “It has to serve a function. It has to have a second life. It has to be sustainable. The brand has to have a sort of socially responsible kind of value.”

Stay tuned for the next installment of PAX Panel, coming soon. All PAX Panel episodes are available online so that everyone can watch and share.

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