Image: Óscar Matamora

APEX Insight: Custom airline fragrances could soon fill cabins and tickle passengers’ noses.

Airlines have long used scent to advance their brand. All Nippon Airways’ “Refresh” aromatherapy card delivers the smell of woodland trees and herbs to ease passengers into sleep. Singapore Airlines’ hot towels are perfumed with “Stefan Floridian Waters,” a blend of rose, lavender and citrus. And now Zodiac Aerospace has a cabin scent diffusing system breathing fresh air into the passenger experience.

“None of the fragrance solutions currently on the aircraft market meet needs,” says Jean-Marc Lemaitre, CEO at Pacific Precision Products, a Zodiac company that specializes in oxygen systems.

Zodiac’s FIVE is the first fragrance diffusing system for private and commercial aircraft that complies with both Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency regulations. Safe to use in flight, its fragrances are designed by ScentAir, a leader in scent marketing.

“How we deliver scent in the cabin is just as important as the scent selection,” says Ed Burke, VP of Customer Strategy and Communications, ScentAir. “The FIVE delivery platform has a high degree of control in terms of intensity and locale within the cabin. Typically, passengers will be greeted with a subtle, elevated scent as they board.”

Tracy Pepe, whose company Nose Knows Design creates custom scents for the hospitality industry and others, is seeing an increase in the use of natural-based fragrances, as well as the growing practice of combining scents and experiences. “Adding scent to taste, touch or sound can help relate the overall experience back to the brand,” she says.

“We’re working to create a comprehensive sensory experience.” – Maddie King, United

United Airlines’ signature “Landing” cabin fragrance features hints of orange peel, bergamot, cypress, black pepper, black tea, sandalwood, leather and more. The scent is part of the airline’s strategy to relax and reinvigorate its passengers. “We’re working to create a comprehensive sensory experience that consists of a custom scent, a curated music playlist and subtle mood lighting,” says Maddie King, Corporate Communications, United Airlines.

But scents can cause sensitivities, Pepe says, so fragrance levels will be important to monitor in the closed space of an aircraft cabin – something that United Airlines takes into consideration. “We’re careful to make sure that the amount of scent infused is appropriate for the space, so that the fragrance is delicately present – subtle but never too assertive,” King says.

Materials used by ScentAir are nonallergenic and meet or exceed worldwide fragrance regulatory standards, Lemaitre says. FIVE’s dry evaporative technology means the fragrance experience can quickly be shut off if necessary and won’t linger in the cabin. For Lemaitre, the goal is simple: “Zodiac sees an opportunity for airlines to use FIVE to replicate the success that ground-based markets have had with scent marketing.”

“Scented Cabins” was originally published in the 7.3 August/September issue of APEX Experience magazine.