Qantas and several other airlines around the world have unexpectedly struck on a handy way to make some extra money at a time when passengers are scarce and airlines remain largely grounded.
The public, it seems, is nostalgic for the good old pre-virus days when a flight to almost anywhere in the world was just the swipe of a credit card away.
Qantas comes up with ‘care packages’
So much so, that they’ve taken to buying onboard snacks, tea bags, moisturiser, lip balm, inflight meals and business class pyjama sets. Even though they have absolutely no intention of flying anywhere!
Qantas, for example has had so much success selling so-called ‘care packages’ through its online shop that these are currently out of stock “due to popular demand”.
These were available for $25 a pack – or 4350 Qantas Points if you’re a frequent flyer currently without the opportunity to fly frequently.
Tim tams, tea bags and a lot more besides
Among the items in the care package were a business class sleeper suit (pyjamas to you and I), 12 individually wrapped Tim Tam biscuits, lemongrass & ginger tea bags, and a pack of smoked almonds normally served to first class passengers.
According to the Businesstraveller.com website, Qantas has been marketing these as an ideal gift for a friend or family member, or as a treat-yourself gift.
But Australia’s national carrier isn’t the only airline or airline-support business to spot the potential of supplying very earth-bound travellers.
A simple food that’s ‘fly to order’, says ad
Tamam Kitchen, an Israeli company that supplies El Al airlines, Turkish Airlines and other international carriers flying out of Tel Aviv, found itself with a lot of stock it couldn’t get rid of in the normal way when the virus struck.
So it created a simple TV ad that showed food trays gliding over a cloudy blue sky. “Fly to order!” it says in Hebrew. The meals are priced at as little as US$3 a tray, reported National Public Radio in the US.
“It’s a simple food, not, you know, so fancy,” even though people enjoy it, said Taman spokesperson Nimrod Demajo. “You stick it in the microwave, warm it up for five minutes, and then you have a meal.”
Sold to cafeterias and aged-care dining rooms
Clients now include a frail care centre that closed its dining room due to the coronavirus and a factory whose cafeteria is no longer operating.
The London-based Guardian newspaper lists a number of international airlines that have taken to selling their meals to the public.
Thai Airways began advertising meal boxes in April, when the pandemic struck, selling anything from stir-fried tiger prawn to beef with cumin sauce.
In Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific is selling meals to airport staff, while Indonesia’s national airline Garuda is offering its food as takeaway dinners on a tray.