The 2015 aviation junkie kits were cool, and the 2019 bags from This is Ground were great though the contents of the bags could have been better.
Today American Airlines introduces new amenity kits with Shinola bags and fragrance items from D.S. & Durga. These are available now on London Heathrow flights (Dallas-Fort Worth; Miami; Chicago O’Hare; Los Angeles; Charlotte; New York JFK; Philadelphia; Seattle) and “will roll out across other long-haul international and transcontinental flights throughout the summer.”
First class amenity kit, Credit: American Airlines
Business class amenity kit, Credit: American Airlines
Premium economy amenity kit, Credit: American Airlines
This puts the Shinola brand on my radar and I would never have heard of it otherwise. I didn’t know Shinola still existed, and in a way it doesn’t. The current Shinola was launched in 2011 and uses the name of the Shinola shoe polish company (1877-1960) which gave rise to the phrase ‘you don’t know shit from Shinola’ meaning someone is ignorant. Some may remember it from Steve Martin’s “The Jerk.”
Amenity kits matter beyond what a passenger may use inflight. Almost no one buys tickets on the basis of what amenity kit an airline is going to offer, but it’s something that contributes to the overall sense of the product which matters for reputation and repeat business.
The kits also serve as a takeaway. I still use a first class ANA kit from 2006 as my shaving bag. It’s getting tattered but I’ve never found one quite as perfect for my razor, my electric toothbrush, and some allergy meds.
Not only is it a reminder of the flight, but it’s a cool giveaway that leads to telling stories about the flight and airline to loved ones at all, both spreading the word about the product and reinforcing positive emotions about the airline.
And since the kits go to premium customers, a highly desirable marketing demographic, airlines can get the bag brands and contents brands to contribute towards the cost. I use toiletries at home, for instance, that was I introduced to during travel years ago.