In their efforts to lure business- and first-class passengers, airlines are partnering with luxury brands to revive the glamour of flying.
Budget flights have made holidays accessible to many, but at the other end of the spectrum collaborations between airlines and luxury brands are gaining ground as a way to ensure luxury travel experiences remain a coveted status symbol. By integrating and flaunting the expertise of other luxury brands that align with their overall identity, airlines are providing the very best travel experience possible or, at the very least, boosting their own brand calibre and consolidating their reputation as purveyors of quality.
Today's discerning premium travellers appreciate collaborations that address their travel needs or are exciting enough to catalyze patronage, especially when the brands feel appropriately matched. Positioning itself as a brand that likes to 'challenge the status quo and stand out from the crowd', Virgin Atlantic's synergy with Vivienne Westwood is so apparent that it is almost unsurprising that the airline recently announced that the British fashion label is to design all its staff uniforms.
Consumers are readily embracing these new brand clusters. In the case of luxury travel, flights are an ideal platform to showcase and offer the best of other brands' products. Limiting these perks to premium cabins and making these branded offerings exclusive also provide the flyer with a compelling story that continues long after the flight has landed.
Here are some recent examples of how airlines have been teaming up with other brands, combining the best from multiple worlds and delivering exceptional products and experiences to their premium passengers:
Exclusive Fabergé jewellery only available on VisaJet flights
March 2013 saw Fabergé launch a collaborative project, Egg Miles, with private-jet charter firm VistaJet. As part of the project, the jewellery brand commissioned British artist Ian Davenport to create a special design based on Fabergé's tradition and heritage for the tail of VistaJet planes. Over a three-week period, a range of limited-edition, egg-shaped Fabergé pendants were also available to passengers on board VistaJet flights, priced from $7,900 (£5,000).
Michelin-starred chef designs menu for Air France
From February 2013, Air France business-class fliers have been served dishes designed by Michelin-starred chef Michel Roth. The eight-month promotion will allow passengers to choose from six main dishes, with menu options changing twice each month. The gourmet menu is available on all long-haul flights from Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris.
Delta partners with Westin Hotels on in-flight amenities
In February 2013, Delta announced a partnership with Westin Hotels to provide business-class passengers with in-flight amenities. The hospitality brand will create special 'Heavenly Bed' blankets and pillows, which will be available on transcontinental US flights. Passengers with journeys of over 12 hours will also be offered Heavenly Bed lumbar pillows during their flight.
Marimekko and Finnair unveil design collaboration
In 2012, Finnish design brand Marimekko announced a partnership with national airline Finnair. All of the airline's planes will feature a specially designed collection of textiles and tableware, and two long-haul aircraft will feature Marimekko-designed livery. During the three-year collaboration, an exclusive selection of Marimekko products will be available to purchase in-flight and at the Finnair Plus Shop.
Twinings creates specialist blend tea for British Airways
In February 2013, English tea brand Twinings launched British Airways Signature Blend, a specialist-blend tea bag commissioned by the airline. The tea blend is available to passengers on all BA flights, however premium cabin passengers can exclusively enjoy the Whole Leaf Silky Pyramids range, which includes specialty teas such as Red Berry Fool, Jasmine Pearls, Mint Humbug and Honeycomb Camomile.
Dr. Hauschka skincare treatments launched in Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse spas
Virgin Atlantic recently announced its partnership with luxury natural beauty brand Dr. Hauschka. From August 2013, premium passengers travelling through Virgin Clubhouses in selected UK airports can experience a holistic range of treatments from Dr. Hauschka-trained therapists. Travel-sized products, including balms, scents and essential oils will also be available for purchase in the Clubhouse Spa shop.
Designer uniforms, branded holistic spas and Michelin-starred haute cuisine menus are just the beginning. Soon we will see luxury travel companies reaching even further out of their industry, potentially partnering with more obscure brands and investigating what these more experimental collaborations can offer them and their customers.