Fourteen years ago Holiday Inn offered a ‘towel amnesty’. If you’d fess up that you took towels from their hotels, you could keep them. In 2013, Hyatt started encouraging guests to steal bath amenities. Of course they meant ‘take the ones that are in your room’ and not ‘raid the housekeeping cart when a staff member walks away.’
There are limits what hotels are going to accept — some guests take carpet, curtains, light fittings, mirrors and door hinges.
Not everyone agrees with letting guests take anything. Someone was sentenced to three months for stealing two towels from a Hilton.
With United’s new Polaris business class soft product — much nicer duvet, blanket, and pillows from Saks, in particular — customers have been taking things home.
United Polaris on Display in Saks Flagship 5th Avenue Storefront, Credit: United Airlines
Live and Let’s Fly reports that United is telling flight attendants to key a watchful eye for passenger theft.
Our customers are continuing to enjoy United Polaris service, in particular our new high-quality bedding designed by Saks Fifth Avenue. However, recently we’ve noticed some confusion about which amenities may be taken off the plane at the end of the flight. We’d like to take this opportunity to clarify the policy regarding our new bedding and ask for your help to ensure its safekeeping on board the aircraft.
You can share with customers that all pillows and blankets are to be left on the aircraft at the end of each flight, including the cooling gel memory foam pillow. Even if only a small number of these items are taken off each flight, that can quickly add up to millions of dollars across our network over the course of a year. To help ensure we are able to continue offering these high-quality products, it’s important to remind customers that these items remain on board the aircraft after every flight. We will begin communicating this policy on board soon.
We launder and re-board pillows and blankets for several cycles before the product naturally degrades from wear and tear, and we replace it.
Of course, all United Polaris customers are welcome to take their amenity kits featuring Cowshed products with them at the end of the flight. Slippers and pajamas — on flights where they are offered — are also available for customers to take with them.
We are exploring offering certain amenities for sale on the United Shop in the future.
I might have certain airline blankets at home. Etihad first class blankets are the softest and most comfortable I’ve ever felt. Whenever I see and feel an airline blanket, it brings me back to the experience and makes me want to get back on board. United doesn’t feel that extending their business class marketing into your home is a worthwhile investment.
United Polaris Bedding and Pajamas
Hotel towel theft is a big deal, one hotel saves $16,000 a month by cutting down of guests taking towels (!). They attach washable RFID tags. Presumably they’re not tracking down thousands of towels leaving the hotel, just telling guests the towels are tagged is enough to keep people from stealing them.
As long as they are able to keep it a secret, they wouldn’t even need the tags — just labels or notes telling guests there are tags.
Former American Airlines Chairman Bob Crandall tells a story about just signaling that you’re watching for theft (without actually doing it):
United could just have flight attendants make an announcement that there are RFID tags in the pillows and blankets. No one will need to watch customers, and no RFID tags need to be used.