Qantas has debuted limited-edition pajamas to support Australia’s Olympian and Paralympian athletes. Image via Qantas

APEX Insight: Pajamas are a nice fit for “soft branding”; they make long-haul flights in premium cabins comfortable while reflecting brand character. Airlines work tirelessly to make these in-flight comforts desirable, and with good reason: Premium flyers take their in-flight PJs seriously.

Qantas has debuted a custom design of its popular PJs to support Australia’s Olympian and Paralympian athletes competing in Rio. The limited-edition pajamas are green with the airline’s iconic kangaroo emblazoned in bold, and the hashtag #RoadtoRio printed on the back. “Our light gray Qantas PJs are almost as iconic as the flying kangaroo on the front of them, so we thought it would be very appropriate to turn them green and gold in support of the men and women representing Australia at Rio,” says Qantas’ head of Brand, Marketing and Corporate Affairs, Olivia Wirth. “It means people flying Qantas can literally support our athletes in their sleep.”

Comfortable in-flight clothing has long been part of the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class flying experience. Always in step with the latest trends, the airline experimented with a onesie, designed by Norwegian leisurewear brand Onepiece, in 2014. Even Richard Branson was keen to snuggle up in one.

Pajamas are also a comfortable way to feature national brands. SWISS offers first-class passengers a luxury amenity kit that includes a pair of pajamas designed by Zimmerli of Switzerland, known for its luxurious undergarments and sleepwear. Cathay Pacific worked with PYE Hong Kong to design a unique PYE in the Sky first-class sleep suit. The sleepwear reflects the fine craftsmanship Hong Kong tailors are renown for.   “I hope that the flyers will take the new sleep suit home as an extension of their gracious experience in the air and as a reminder of the dynamism and excitement of Hong Kong,” says Dee Poon, managing director and chief brand officer of PYE.

“I hope that the flyers will take the new sleep suit home as an extension of their gracious experience in the air.” — Dee Poon, PYE

The introduction of high-tech textiles promises to make pajamas even better. At the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo 2015, Hydra Active proposed the benefits of in-flight loungewear infused with aloe vera to sooth passengers’ skin in dry cabin conditions.

Comfy, cozy, high-fashion or high-tech, do pajamas really matter to passengers? In a word: yes. A number of people collect the suits to complement their wardrobe, and some even buy airline pajamas online to wear at home. “For those of us who like to travel light, being able to wear pajamas on flights lets us keep our clothes fresher,” explained serial frequent flyer Ben Schlappig to Condé Nast.

Qantas’ 2012 pajama crisis shows how a lack of airline pajamas can make some passengers uncomfortable. Two first-class passengers on board Qantas QF94 from Los Angeles to Melbourne in 2012 were not amused to learn that their premium sleepwear was unavailable in size XL. When their fits ballooned, the flight attendants offered the passengers business-class PJs instead. Wearing “second-class” threads was a no-go for the pair, and the flight – carrying 400 other passengers – was delayed while the two deplaned and their baggage was unloaded.