Surprise! We lost your luggage. Surprise! Your tray table is broken. While it seems like most airline surprises end in disappointment, a few bold airlines are delighting passengers every day with pleasing perks to make flying just a little better. Some—like traditional sweets on Turkish Airlines and lounge access on Porter Airlines—are available regardless of where you sit in the plane. Others—aromatherapy on ANA, for instance, or Birchbox goodie bags on JetBlue—are reserved for passengers in premium seats.
Turkish Airlines: Candlelit Meals and Turkish Delights
Intercontinental flights bring sweet treats to all passengers on Turkish Airlines. Traditional Turkish coffee and sweet, sticky Turkish delight candies are part of the in-flight experience for all passengers—including everyone in economy class. For business-class passengers, the small indulgences continue with candlelit meals. Electric candles glow within tiny luminarias that cast a soft, romantic light on meals provided by the airline's "flying chefs."
EVA Airways: Hello Kitty Everything
EVA has taken the go-big-or-go-home advice to heart with its Hello Kitty Jets. These six jets offer an all-in Hello Kitty experience that starts at check-in with Hello Kitty boarding passes and continues throughout the flight with themed music, headrest covers, paper cups, utensils, soap, meals, and ice cream. Flight attendants even wear Hello Kitty aprons. And while these flights are popular with families, the appeal goes beyond kids. According to Mr. K.W. Nieh at EVA, people of all ages book the Hello Kitty Jet flights.
Emirates: Toys for Kids
Kids will find plenty of entertaining company aboard Emirates flights. The airline's "Fly with Me Monsters" collection includes blanket buddies wrapped in soft fleece blankets, seat-belt critters (worn on the seat belt to make buckling up more fun), and magnetic sketching toys. Kids can choose one of four monster characters—Jimbob, Tezz, Camus, and Wagga—each with its own interests (including one who loves to take selfies).
Singapore Airlines: 3-D Games and Learning Apps
On select flights, Singapore Airlines offers entertainment that you can almost reach out and touch. Its range of video games includes 3-D and multiplayer games such as ThinkTanks. Passengers can also brush up on language skills with a Berlitz Word Traveler language-learning tool, learn about local customs with the b-Wise CultureQuest app, or listen to business-book digests using Soundview Executive Book Summaries.
ANA: Aromatherapy Cards
Deep breathing is one of the keys to a comfortable flight. And on ANA, each inhalation comes with a little something extra for business- and first-class passengers. The airline offers two aromatherapy cards that passengers can sniff or simply tuck into a pocket for a more subtle scent. The "Relax" card's lavender blend is used for sleep support, while the "Refresh" card helps to shake off end-of-flight grogginess and get you ready for your destination.
Porter Airlines: Lounges for Everyone
Lounge access for every passenger: That's what sets Canada's Porter Airlines apart. With free newspapers, Wi-Fi, and complimentary Starbucks coffee, Tazo teas, juices, sodas, and snacks, the airline makes waiting for a flight very nearly pleasant. Lounges in Toronto, Ottawa, and Newark feature comfortable seating, work spaces, charging areas, and did we mention free snacks?
Virgin Atlantic: In-Flight Bars
Fighting DVT has never looked so good. Upper-class passengers on Virgin Atlantic flights can stretch their legs at the onboard bar while sipping cocktails at 35,000 feet. The bar, which is separate from the cabin, can accommodate up to eight passengers at a time. Rotating signature drinks share the menu with Lanson Black Label Champagne, Aberfeldy 12-year-old single-malt whisky, and a range of other options.
JetBlue: Birchbox for Mint
Mint, JetBlue's new premium class, offers more than just lie-flat seats and full-bottle wine service. It has partnered with Birchbox for its amenities kits. Men's and women's kits are filled with travel-friendly items that change regularly. The current lineup includes Benefit Cosmetics mascara, Ernest Supplies Cooling Shave Cream, and The Laundress Wash & Stain Bar. Each kit also comes with a sweet treat as a parting gift.
Qantas: Preordered Meals
Ordering ahead: It's the perfect way to make sure the flight attendant doesn't run out of your preferred meal just before reaching you. On many international flights, Qantas offers premium-economy and business-class passengers the option to browse a menu and order items seven days to 12 hours in advance of flights, using its Q-Eat system.
Hawaiian Airlines: Island Specialties
Vacation starts just after takeoff on Hawaiian Airlines flights. The airline's focus on Hawaiian foods extends to its complementary offerings. On North America-to-Hawaii flights departing before 10 a.m., passengers are offered free mai tais. There's also POG (passion fruit-orange-guava juice), Koloa Breeze rum punch, AlohaMacs chocolate, and guava cookies. More Hawaiian specialties (toffee-coated macadamia nuts, local popcorn, and coconut cookies) are available for purchase.
Read the original story: Unexpected Airline Offerings Free with the Cost of Your Ticket by Christine Sarkis, who is a regular contributor to SmarterTravel.