/ Travel & Leisure

Cash for comfort – should we pay for blankets on flights?

On a recent and very chilly flight to Greece, I was told I could only have a blanket if I paid for it. It left me wondering, am I the only one who thinks blankets should be free on flights rather than offered as optional extras?

Picture the scene. It’s a warm summer morning as I set off in the car for the short drive to Gatwick airport. I’m dressed appropriately for the temperature in a smart knee length dress made of a fairly thick material, and I have my long sleeve cardigan with me.

I’ve already checked the weather in Greece and smile in anticipation of the sunshine filled days and balmy evenings to come. As I run my final checks (passport, tickets, travel insurance), packing my winter coat or a blanket is the last thing on my mind. But would I come to regret that decision?

The cost of comfort

Boarding our Monarch flight is quick, stress free, and our flight takes off on time. However, it’s not long before the air-conditioning kicks in and the cabin starts to chill. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not on the verge of catching hypothermia, but it’s cold enough to affect the comfort of my flight.

No problem though, I’ll just ask one of the flight attendants for a blanket. No such luck. I’m told that blankets aren’t carried on my flight, but that I can buy one as part of a ‘comfort kit’ at a cost of £5. My kit would include a fleece blanket, an inflatable pillow and an eye-mask.

I decline the kit on a combination of principle and the fact that it’s daytime, and I’m not planning on sleeping. Plus, I don’t want to end up carrying the pack around on holiday with me, especially as I don’t foresee a need for it in 30 degree heat.

Now the problem with having principles is that you end up spending the rest of the flight looking slightly stupid with your cardy wrapped around your legs. But it begs the question – should you really have to pay £5 for comfort?

At what point did comfort no longer come as part of the ticket price? The fact the airline even call it a ‘comfort kit’ is slightly amusing. What kind of experience can those travelling without a comfort kit expect? I was travelling alone, but if a family of four wanted to stay comfortable, their spending money could go down by £20 before they’d even landed!

A lack of blanket coverage

I know there are arguments against the provision of blankets on flights, and I’m also aware that the ‘no-blanket’ rule doesn’t apply to all airlines or to most long haul flights. I can even understand people defending the airlines, asking why they should have to provide blankets over and above other modes of transport, such as trains or ferries.

But my argument is that, compared to ferries and trains, airline cabin luggage restrictions mean space can be tight. Squeezing in a blanket or travelling with a coat that you may need to put into your bag on arrival can be an issue – especially when travelling to a hot destination where you are unlikely to need it. This is a particular problem if you plan to travel around or visit multiple destinations.

Do you think you should you be able to request a free blanket on all flights, or am I just being fussy?


Although I generally oppose budget and charter airlines’ additional charges, it is reasonable to expect passengers to wear or travel with clothes that are appropriate for both the flight origin and destination. If the air conditioning is unreasonably cold compared to, for example, the temperature inside each airport, then that is another problem to be addressed and blankets should not be the solution.

For overnight flights, it’s a different story and blankets should be provided in order to help passengers to sleep.

Sophie Gilbert says:
11 October 2012

I agree with nfh in general. Maybe wear trousers the next time, Kate, they will cover your legs and keep you a bit warmer (and later you’ll need them to cover up in the sun to avoid skin damage). At the same time maybe the airline could have stored a couple of blankets too, in the event of someone feeling ill for example, basic first aid. Not to be expected from cheapo airlines though, as we all know.

While I think it would be great to be given such freebies during flight, I can see why the airline choose not to provide complementary blankets.

Each time someone uses a blanket, they would have to wash and dry that blanket and provide it clean, ready for the next customer. That would mean additional cost and time for the airline which, presumably, are running a cheap and cheerful service.

Personally I think £5 for that comfort kit isn’t all too terrible given that many airlines charge the same amount for a small pot of Pringles!

I think they absolutely should provide these things for free!
I was also recently on a Monarch flight, and was delayed by 3 hours, after we eventually did take off, they still wanted to charge me for a drink.

We’re packed into these planes like sardines in a tin, with nowhere near enough legroom, and they want to charge for simple essentials? Nothing is comfortable or enjoyable about flying. Something’s very wrong somewhere.

You get what you pay for. If you want full service, go with a full service airline.