In-flight Goods To-Go
Published: April 2009
By Andrea Bennett
Airlines are stocking first-class amenity bags with more designer products than ever. T+L provides a peek at the best of the best from nine leading carriers
Behold the first-class amenity kit—that precious goody bag that makes airline travel (especially with an unexpected upgrade) a tad more enjoyable. No matter how many sleeping masks, plush socks, and sample-size hand lotions we accumulate, like kids on Christmas morning we can't wait to tear into the packages. Airlines have long understood the psychological benefits of in-flight gifts and, thankfully, the booty just keeps getting better. In an effort to lure the elusive first-class-paying traveler, they're switching stale brands for hipper, newer ones. According to Joan Vincenz, Delta's managing director of product marketing, research reveals that the airline's premium customer is now concerned about organic ingredients and fresh packaging. Gone are the old L'Occitane products; these days, Delta passengers prefer lemongrass-wasabi soap. And in an era of increased competition, international carriers are realizing they can express their individuality through, say, a lavender-and-chamomile "sniff box."
Watermark Group, an English company that makes kits for more than 100 carriers, including everything from small charter companies to national flagships, currently sells 3 million bags each month, up from 1.5 million two years ago. And airlines across the globe are taking first-class amenities a step further. On Cathay Pacific, kits are accompanied by a pair of Shanghai Tang pajamas instead of no-name-brand cotton pj's. When so many niceties of travel have fallen victim to bottom-line bean counters, it's reassuring to see this tradition thriving.
We put it all together with our favorite booty from premium-class cabins.
1. Bulgari bag (Asiana).
2. Compact toothbrush (Qantas).
3. Bulgari body lotion (Singapore).
4. Bulgari perfume (Singapore).
5. Elemis beauty capsules (Cathay Pacific).
6. Cooling eye mask (Asiana).
7. Gillette razor (Emirates).
8. Clarins Invigorating Fragrance (Air France).
9. Bulgari fragrance (Asiana).
10. Clarins lotion (Emirates).
11. A pocket-size shoehorn (Lufthansa).
12. La Prairie lip balm (Swiss).
Estimated Retail Value: $143.
What's the take-home value of your first-class ticket? We calculated the estimated retail cost for nine of our favorite amenity kits
We love the shiny red tote and mirror, plus the Clarins Fatigue Fighter and mineral spray for long-haul flights.
Estimated value: $49
Give yourself an onboard facial before landing with Aigner eye cream, lip balm, and moisturizing skin gel.
Estimated value: $72
Cathay doesn't skimp, with Elemis body products and a suede bag.
Estimated value: $123
The handsome leather kits come packed with essentials, plus two "sniff boxes"—one to help you sleep, the other to wake you up.
Estimated value: $79
Fitting for a Japanese carrier, these handy bags are stocked with Shiseido and Clé de Peau lotions.
Estimated value: $137
Our favorite extras in the Aigner-filled bag are the wooden brush and the refresher mist.
Estimated value: $62
Singapore's bag is sleek and sophisticated, with Bulgari scents and body creams.
Estimated value: $85
With a hanging black Bally bag and a bevy of La Prairie products, the Swiss kit serves fashion and function.
Estimated value: $83
Asiana's chic, round tote carries the best in Bulgari products, plus a refreshing eye mask.
Estimated value: $72
For those kits that include sample sizes not available for retail purchase, prices were calculated using the per-ounce price of the particular product.