As Muslims migrate for hajj, airlines showcase their hospitality with care packages crafted for the occasion.
Every year, Muslims from around the world travel for hajj, a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca. With two-thirds of pilgrims living outside of Saudi Arabia, 94 percent make their journey by airplane (others by land and sea). During this period – between mid-July and mid-August – last year, Travelport says air travel increased by 20 percent compared to 2017, amounting to around two million passengers.
Flights to Jeddah and Medina spring up for the migration. And this year, Malaysia Airlines launched Amal, an airline dedicated to serving individuals traveling for hajj and umrah (another Islamic pilgrimage that is undertaken at virtually any other time of year). With many pilgrims following strict diets and rituals without exception during air travel, airlines serving Muslim passengers have to pay special attention to ensure flight experiences – and amenity kits – are permissible.
Formia has created hajj amenity kits for Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways that contain items such as counting beads, nonslip prayer mats, stone pouches, socks and wet wipes. “These kits are developed around the needs of pilgrims traveling to the holy sites,” says Stefanie Chung, marketing officer at Formia. The company works with Hajj Safe to ensure details are mindful of Muslim travelers’ needs, such as wet wipes that are fragrance- and alcohol-free.
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 anticipates the number of pilgrims to rise to 30 million by 2030.
“A huge part of our product development included talking and working with professionals who have already developed products for Muslims, in particular for hajj and umrah. They were able to communicate to us what we can do to help develop the right items,” Chung says.
Merging style and functionality, Formia’s hajj comfort kit for Turkish Airlines is minimalistic in design: The charcoal-gray bag is compact and easy to carry, and transforms into a larger bag that can hold a pair of shoes.
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 anticipates the number of pilgrims to rise to 30 million by 2030, thereby opening up an opportunity to build up tourism in the country. And as this demographic grows, Formia expects airline demand for specialized amenity kits will too.
“Pilgrim Pack” was originally published in the 9.3 June/July issue of APEX Experience magazine.