It doesn’t take a frequent flyer to see that travel has rapidly changed over the past decade. Even if it’s not COVID-related safety precautions, cost-cutting measures and the new realities of the post-pandemic world have made the midair experience something that’s constantly evolving. Now, Delta Air Lines is the latest to announce a change for its passengers by getting rid of some things on its flights. Read on to see what will be different the next time you travel by plane.
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As part of the company’s ambitious environment initiative, Delta has announced that it would be getting rid of certain items in amenity kits given to Delta One passengers to cut down on the amount of single-use plastics on each flight. Flyers in the business class cabin will now receive a goodie bag specially designed for the airline by Mexican apparel brand Someone Somewhere, which will feature new woven bags packed with “sustainable products such as a Someone Somewhere eye mask, Humble Co. bamboo toothbrush and toothpaste , and Grown Alchemist lip balm and lotion.”
According to the airline, the change—which marks a departure from its previous partnership with luxury tote company Tumi—will reduce its annual plastic use by 90,000 pounds by eliminating items such as zippers and unsustainable packaging. Delta also notes that Someone Somewhere is a Certified B Corporation whose “mission is to empower the artisans they work with—75 percent of whom are women—to be recognized as independent income-earning leaders in their communities,” creating jobs for 250 people in five of Mexico’s most vulnerable states.
“As one of the most trusted consumer brands in the world, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to make values-led business decisions that not only deliver on our vision but also positively impact our communities,” Sam Sibble, Director of Supply Chain at Delta, said in a statement. “At Delta, we’re challenging ourselves to put ever more thought and care into how and from where we source our products. Partnerships like this align with our vision of providing a premium and unique onboard experience while also driving social, economic, and environmental impact.”
Amenity packs aren’t the only thing becoming more green in Delta cabins. According to the airline, it’s also swapping out the in-flight bedding in its Delta One cabin over the next year for newer, more sustainable blankets and pillows made with “more than 100 recycled plastic bottles” each that will use up to a total 25 million recycled bottles annually. The bedding will also ditch its plastic wrap for reusable packaging, resulting in a reduction of single-use plastic by up to 260,000 pounds per year.
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While some of the changes may only be felt by premium cabin passengers, the airline has also announced that it will be swapping the plastic forks and knives used during meal service on flights for sustainable, biodegradable utensils made of bamboo. Even though the environmentally friendly cutlery options are already available in first-class cabins, the further change will help the airline reduce plastic waste by 4.3 million pounds each year, travel news outlet The Points Guy reports.
According to Delta, this is the latest step in removing single-use plastics from beverage and meal service on its flights after ditching straws, stir sticks, and plastic utensil wrappers in 2018.
Delta isn’t the only airline making eco-conscious changes to its flights. In November, Alaska Airlines announced that it would be removing single-use plastic bottles and cups from water service on their flights in an effort to step up its commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. The major carrier began serving the paper-packaged Boxed Water Is Better brand and using recyclable cardboard cups for water service after the new rules took effect on Nov. 4.
A spokesperson for Alaska Airlines clarified to Best Life that plastic cups will still be used for soda and alcoholic beverages, as those liquids will leak through the recyclable paper cups.
As the fifth-largest airline in the US, the company expects the change to have a significant impact. Todd Traynor-Corey, managing director of guest products for Alaska Airlines, said the change would remove an estimated 22 million plastic cups and 32 million plastic bottles from flights through 2022, according to The Washington Post. To put it in aviation terms, he said: “That’s 1.8 million pounds of single-use plastics per year, or the equivalent of [the weight of] 18 Boeing 737s.”
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