Life Travel Qantas drinks trolleys fly out the door as airplane memorabilia hits fever-pitch
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Qantas drinks trolleys fly out the door as airplane memorabilia hits fever-pitch

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Qantas has continued its merchandise flog, this time selling off one thousand stocked drink trolleys – and they were all snapped up within minutes.

The trolleys were taken from its recently retired Boeing 747s, before the craft were sent away to the desert (that’s the aviation equivalent of, ‘No Puppy Benji isn’t dead, he’s just gone to the farm’).

They sold out almost instantly, racking up an estimated $1 million in revenue for the carrier.

Those who were quick enough found themselves the proud owners of either a full or half used galley cart, complete with the scuff signs of a life well trolleyed.

Oh, and they were full of all the in-flight delectables one expects on flights: Mini bottles of wine, crackers and nuts – plus first-class blankets, sleep suits and amenities packs.

All you need to recreate the in-flight experience at home.

Missed out and sad? You can still buy – for whatever reason, we won’t judge – mini bottles of wine from Qantas’ website.

It’s not the first special offering the Flying Kangaroo has made that’s been eagerly lapped up by the public – Qantas pyjamas disappeared nearly as quickly as they appeared when they went on sale earlier this year.

Even the airline’s ‘flight to nowhere’ sold out within minutes.

A sense of self

So what is it about aviation that gets Australians reaching for their credit cards, just to buy memorabilia?

Perhaps our geography has something to do with it – an island nation, and a big one at that, we’re more dependent than other continents on plane travel.

Consumer behaviour expert Louise Grimmer believes nostalgia is a big part of the items people choose to collect.

“Airline paraphernalia appeals to both people who are really interested in aviation but also those who are interested in travel and the memories associated with how we travel,” Dr Grimmer said, a senior marketing lecturer and retail researcher at the University of Tasmania.

What we buy, collect and display is an extension of ourselves, Dr Grimmer continued.

“The American business academic Professor Russell W. Belk describes this as the ‘extended self’,” she told The New Daily.

“The extended self explains how certain possessions, in this airline items, are seen to be a part of ourselves and a part of our life story. So a defunct drinks trolley or other airline paraphernalia become part of the identity of the owner.

For many people, their collections signal to others who they are, and who they want to be.”

Venture online, and you’ll find there’s a community that shares a passion for not just Australian aviation, but the (now late) Qantas Boeing 747 fleet.

A Qantas galley trolley in action, somewhere between 1974 and 1985 – as indicated by the Pucci hostess uniform.

“On this day last year I was in the final couple of hours of my final flight onboard a Qantas 747. I knew in my heart it was probably going to be my last time on a 747 but as we all now know this year well and truly took care of that possibility to fly in a queen one more time,” one member of the Farewell Qantas Boeing 747 Facebook group wrote on Thursday, after the trolleys had all been scooped up.

Other users were quick to ask if anyone had bought a trolley and were already willing to part with it.

So is it worth jumping on these sales, as more and more airlines shed memorabilia to try and recoup some semblance of income during the global pandemic

Maybe, but it would be mean-spirited.

“I think at the moment, when for the first time really in most people’s lifetimes we can’t travel as freely as we’d like to, we are going to see these sorts of items command higher prices than perhaps they might have pre-COVID,” Dr Grimmer said.

“(But) many people collect for reasons other than financial gain – a lot of the behaviour we see exhibited by collectors is about the joy of maintaining a collection, keeping their items in order, displaying items and the nostalgia associated with various collections.”