Airline Signatures: Using Amenities to Build Brand Loyalty


    KLM Houses
    KLM first introduced their little blue delft houses in 1952. Image: KLM

    APEX Insight: Airlines have been resorting to amenities to differentiate their brands for decades. Ranging from customized chocolate to unique collectibles coveted by generations, there are many ways for airlines to make the onboard experience memorable.

    Read on for a list of six airlines that use branded amenities to make everyone, including economy-class passengers, feel like they come first.

    United Airlines won the hearts of many when it began offering stroopwafels in its economy cabin. Image: United

    Rise and Dine with United

    Stroopwafels may be a popular Dutch treat, but US-based United Airlines offers them as part of its upgraded economy cabin amenities. The circles of chewy-gooey goodness, which are served until 9:45 a.m. on select flights, pair perfectly with the airline’s new illycaffè service. Passengers on later flights are offered a savory Asian snack mix to nibble on.

    Etihad’s long-haul economy comfort kit. Image: Etihad Airways


    Luxury Talks on Etihad

    Etihad Airways has partnered with LUXE Guides to introduce amenity kits containing exclusive boutique skin care from Scaramouche + Fandango. Passengers in long-haul economy receive a comfort kit, complete with a reversible eye mask, which lets crew know whether passengers would like to be woken up for meals.

    Singapore Goes Old School

    Remember when IFE mainly consisted of a lovely deck of airline branded playing cards? Singapore Airlines does: It offers playing cards and writing kits, as well as other comfort/hygiene items to passengers upon request. The carrier also offers well-stocked amenity kits in premium cabins. But arguably the most attractive amenity available to Singapore’s customers – from premium economy to first class – is the airline’s exclusive “Book The Cook” service, which lets passengers personalize their meals. Bespoke dining!

    SWISS Knows Its Strengths

    When you have an enviable national reputation for fine chocolate – as SWISS’ home base does – giving customers a sweet sampling of local flavor is a great way to win passengers’  hearts. SWISS goes one step further by offering “onboard surprise” menus that include Champagne, truffles and pralines. These can be booked in advance to mark a special occasion and delivered to a lucky passenger in flight.

    Emirates Understands the Importance of Child’s Play

    Many airlines offer branded amenities to help put children at ease during what can be an especially stressful experience for minors. Emirates sets a high standard with its collectible Fly With Me Monsters and has followed up with new Fly With Me Animals. The airline offers a host of other VIP Junior passenger comforts €” a great way to make loyal customers of future frequent flyers.

    KLM Crafts Collectibles

    Perhaps the best “proof” of the success of amenity branding is KLM’s little blue Delft house. What started as a fun way to offer business-class customers a snifter of gin has become a cherished collectible with a devoted fan base. If you’re a Delft house fan, KLM has an app for that. Each lovingly crafted miniature represents a real Dutch house, with a unique story to tell.

    Filling the Delft houses with gin helped KLM circumvent a ban on any gifts to passengers valued over 75 cents. “Is there a law that tells us drinks have to be served in a glass?” KLM asked. There wasn’t. Thus, the legendary Delft houses took off. There’s no such ban today, so airlines are free to offer customers a uniquely branded memento that will endure for years to come.