Onboard amenity kits for first- and business-class passengers on international flights are becoming hot-ticket items. While carriers may be stripping away perks for economy customers, they are lavishing them on the front-of-the-plane set.
George Hobica, founder of the site airfarewatchdog.com, said that up until a few years ago, the kits were ordinary-looking bags packed with little more than the usual eye mask and ear plugs. "Passengers would often leave them behind on their seats, but the upscale versions some carriers hand out today are keepsakes that have a second life once you've used up their contents," he said.
Some airlines are commissioning luxury fashion labels like Ferragamo to design the bags, while others are tapping local artisans for the job. And the toiletries go beyond the basics with products from high-end brands like Bulgari and La Prairie.
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"I call these kits Christmas stockings in the sky," said Chad Clark, the owner of the Phoenix travel consultancy Chad Clark Travel Ventures. "Everyone wants more than one."
Here, a look at the luxe kits that airlines have created for their international first- and business-class passengers. And even in economy class, where amenity kits are a rarity nowadays, even on long-haul journeys, we found one worth mentioning.
Bag: Men and women receive separate Salvatore Ferragamo-designed bags, introduced in late 2014. For men, it's a chic black toiletry case; women get a small cream and black clutch that could do double duty as an evening bag.
Goods: All from Ferragamo: a lip balm, hand cream, cleansing towel and 1-ounce eau de toilette from the brand's Acqua Essenziale line for men and similar products for women from the Signorina line.
Bag: The airline collaborated with the Italian label Bulgari on eight designs, four for men and four for women. The sets were introduced in October and will change every nine months. Men's bags at the moment are made of rich leather and come in brown tones; women's, in either cream or brown, have a satin finish.
Goods: The products for men include travel-size Bulgari body lotion, after-shave balm and cologne, a deodorant, shaving cream and a razor from Truefitt & Hill; women receive Bulgari body lotion, face cream, cologne spray and a towelette as well as a mirror and foldable hairbrush.
Bag: Artisans at Sougha, a socially conscious group based in Abu Dhabi, designed the dark brown cotton bags. There are different ones for men and women, and the patterns on both reflect the traditional Emirati Sadou style of weaving.
Goods: Moisturiser, hand cream and lip balm from the New York City-based beauty brand Le Labo; pulse-point oil and pillow mist to help passengers sleep; a dental kit, cotton pads, Q-tips, socks and an eye mask. Men also get a shaving kit.
Bag: Starting in October passengers will receive kits from the luggage brand Rimowa. They're available in four colors: a deep red, dark green, black and gray.
Goods: The dental set, soft socks and mints aside, the travel-size products from the Swiss brand La Prairie are the highlight. They're suitable for both men and women and include the line's much-touted Cellular Time Release Moisturizer Intensive, a cream that claims to keep skin hydrated and smooth for up to 16 hours.
Bag: The emerging Asian brand Seventy Eight Percent, known for high-quality, sophisticated bags, is behind the kits, which come in either a rectangle or clutch style. They are available in a rotating palette of five colors, including turquoise.
Goods: Skin-care products from Jurlique, based in Australia, including a citrus hand cream, facial moisturizer and lip balm. There are also a pair of anti-skid socks and a dental kit.
Bag: A sleek tan synthetic leather bag wrapped in one of six postcards with images from United's archives, a nod to the company's 90th anniversary.
Goods: Hand cream, lip balm and towelette from the British spa brand Cowshed; navy skidproof socks, eye mask, comb and dental kit.
Bag: Cole Haan designed the fashion-forward vegan leather bags; they come in eight color combinations like yellow and black. The shades rotate every few months.
Goods: All the essentials including a dental kit, a $75 credit to use toward a $250 Cole Haan purchase, foam headphone covers and lip balm, lime and coriander body lotion and mouthwash from the New York City-based C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries.
Bag: First-class fliers get Jaguar-branded bags, and the Parisian fashion house Cerruti is behind the ones in business, but the pickings are far from shabby for economy passengers: The airline teamed with two upscale brands, Chopard and Institut Karite, to design the kits. Chopard's is black, and Institut Karite's comes in four shades including an eye-catching turquoise.
Goods: Rubber sole soft slippers, eye shades, soft nonskid rubber sole tube socks, a hairbrush, ear plugs, a dental kit and shea butter lip balm.
The New York Times