Last year, when JetBlue did a carrier-wide uniform upgrade -- its first since the airline's 2000 launch -- a lot of overstock and unworn uniforms for flight crews and ground staff got put on the shelf.
Now JetBlue has found way to keep those garments out of landfills and please stylish and aviation-savvy travelers (i.e., avgeeks) who'd like to own a piece of the airline's history.
The solution: upcycling.
JetBlue joined up with Manhattan Portage, the company that first popularized and continues to make iconic New York City bicycle messenger bags and this week (just in time for Earth Day) is rolling out the "JetBlue Uniform Bag Collection," a line of five items made from unworn recycled uniforms and available online and in Manhattan Portage stores.
The toiletry case ($39) exteriors are made from JetBlue's signature windowpane flight attendant shirts, the linings are made of scarves, and the handles are former neckties. The City Lights bag ($45) is made out of recycled pilot shirts, with intact pockets and pilot wings. The Sohobo bags ($89) were once all-weather jackets, the backpack ($109) is made from recycled JetBlue rain pants and all-weather vests have been turned into Europa bags ($115).
"The Big Apple is the fashion capital. As New York's Hometown Airline, our new bag collection will give stylish New Yorkers, and those who simply want a piece of JetBlue history, an eco-friendly fashionable option," said Sophia Mendelsohn, JetBlue's head of sustainability, in a statement.
While the new line of upcycled bags puts unworn uniforms to good use, JetBlue also found a way to recycle the old uniforms crewmembers wore. In 2014, the airline donated 37,000 pounds of old uniforms, clothing and fabrics to a non-profit that planned to sell the material and use the proceeds to support a variety of programs in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America.
Old fabrics from other airlines are also being upcycled.
Skyebags turns recycled aircraft leather from
Harriet Baskas is a Seattle-based airports and aviation writer and USA TODAY Travel's "At the Airport" columnist. She occasionally contributes to Ben Mutzabaugh's Today in the Sky blog. Follow her at twitter.com/hbaskas.