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Busineses rush to ease pain of airport losses

Travelers stripped of carryon toiletries because of heightened airport security will find a consolation gift when they pick up Avis Rent A Car vehicles in the nation's major airports.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Travelers stripped of carryon toiletries because of heightened airport security will find a consolation gift when they pick up Avis Rent A Car vehicles in the nation's major airports.

Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co. has donated "smile packs" with its Crest toothpaste, mouthwash and floss that Avis will leave on the front seats of cars at 25 U.S. airports starting Wednesday, Avis spokeswoman Susan McGowan said.

Some hotel chains also are giving guests expanded offerings of free toiletries when they check in, as companies move quickly to soothe harried travelers and earn some good will with freebies. McGowan said P&G contacted the rental car company Friday to discuss a partnership, in reaction to stepped-up security that dramatically expanded carryon bans in the aftermath of a thwarted plot to blow up U.S.-bound planes using liquid explosives.

"It's the least we can do after a long day of travel and losing products that you've paid for," P&G spokeswoman Tonia Elrod said.

She said the packs are full-size products, not travel sizes, worth a little more than a total $10 each at retail stores, not including P&G's costs for shipping them. Elrod said at least 25,000 packs are being shipped initially, and that P&G would be interested in partnering with other companies in the travel industry on the effort.

"It was something that was put together very quickly in response to what travelers are gong through," McGowan said. "This will save them a trip to the store; just something nice to do."

Meanwhile, some hoteliers are adding complimentary items to the usual lineup of shampoos and mouthwashes.

In Cleveland, Ethel Chase, waiting at curbside Tuesday for the trip to the airport and flight home to Kennesaw, Ga., said her hotel, the Renaissance Cleveland, had given her much-needed toothpaste, deodorant and lotion.

"It was very helpful," the retiree said. "How are you going to function without your toiletries? Toothpaste and deodorant — those are your staple things that you use every day. Without those things, you can't really function properly."

New Jersey-based Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is offering bottled water, contact lens solution, hair spray and hair gel, spokeswoman Evy Apostolatos said. She said at Chicago's O'Hare airport, customers are handed bottled water when they board shuttle buses to the hotel.

Executives of Omni Hotels, based in Irving, Texas, huddled within hours of the news of the foiled terror plot Aug. 10 and decided to offer some extra pampering.

"We were saying, 'Our guests are going to be arriving at the end of a very stressful day,'" spokeswoman Christine Connelly said.

She said the word went out to managers of the some 40 hotels in North America to stock up on high-end cosmetics, including hair gel and sprays, manicure kits and moisturizer, with such brands as Aveda, Clinique, Kiehl's, Paul Mitchell and Sephora. Connelly said hotels were each spending hundreds of dollars a day on the items, their costs depending on the locations.

Salon-style products aside, contact lens solution has been in high demand by guests, Connelly said.

She said although travelers are adapting now to the new carryon rules and packing cosmetics and toiletries in checked luggage, Omni will continue offering the extra items for the immediate future because some travelers forget and anyway, it's a nice bonus for them.

"In terms of the cost, it's not about the money, it's about doing the right thing," Connelly said.