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You won’t believe the latest airline perk for premium-class fliers: designer socks

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Virgin Atlantic plans to give out 100,000 Happy Socks to its premium-class passengers this summer.
(Virgin Atlantic)

Airlines have been trying for years to differentiate themselves by handing out extras to VIP passengers, including down pillows, noise-reducing headphones, eye shades and amenity kits filled with beauty and grooming products.

Virgin Atlantic, founded by billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, is taking that trend to an unusual direction.

The Britain-based carrier plans to give its premium-class passengers designer socks this summer — and not the run-of-the-mill tube socks you might get in the hospital that are in some amenity kits. These socks, with a custom airplane design in either purple or red, are manufactured by Swedish company Happy Socks, which sells brightly colored socks and underwear in 90 countries.

Virgin Atlantic said the socks — 100,000 pairs of them — will be included in amenity kits handed out to premium-class passengers on “select” A330-200 routes, including flights out of Los Angeles International Airport, starting next year. Other passengers who fancy the socks can buy them online at the airline’s duty-free site for $10 a pair.

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The creation of the socks comes a few months after the airline unveiled a “bespoke” fragrance called “Air,” created by scent designer Rachel Vosper.

The scent permeates the Virgin Atlantic check-in areas, airport gates, clubhouses and plane cabins. Fliers who want that smell at home can buy an “Air” candle from the airline’s duty-free online shop for about $40.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

To read more about the travel and tourism industries, follow @hugomartin on Twitter.

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