New American Airlines Business Class Amenity Kits Are Actually Just Cardboard Boxes

The Cheapening continues. While some airlines offer business class passengers amenities inside nice leather reusable bags, or hard side plastic Tumi suitcases, American Airlines has been giving out a new amenity kit in international business class that’s made out of cardboard.

It’s supposedly a test appearing on London routes and more ‘sustainable.’ As one customer puts it though, how are these “more reusable” than the bags we take home and reuse? United uses recycled plastic, but that’s still not cardboard.

This plastic cup photo offers a side view of the cardboard box.

This saddens me. Such a far cry from the 2019-era kits.

2019 First Class Amenity Kit

2019 Business Class Amenity Kit

An amenity kit is both about delivering useful items to the passenger for use inflight, and also a nice branded takeaway. Key elements of an amenity kit are:

  • Useful inflight items. A good kit ought to include toothpaste and toothbrush; comb; tissues; hand sanitizer; perhaps cologne; a pen (for those countries that still require paper forms); mouth wash; moisturizer; chap stick; body lotion.

  • Premium brand partnership. Singapore Airlines always stood out to me for large-sized amenities, not just small sample sizes. For years they offered Ferragamo, hard to pick a more premium name. I really liked Ferragamo Tuscan Soul. Full-sized premium items are great for my home guestroom bath. Air Canada business class has an Acqua di Parma partnership. It introduces the premium passenger to the premium brand, and associates the premium airline product with high quality.

  • A useful premium bag as a takeaway. 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. For many years I used an ANA first class amenity kit as my shaving bag. For the past three years I’ve used an old Cathay Pacific one.

In contrast, cardboard is a throwaway not a keepsake. I thought the US Airways low cost mindset had fully embedded inside of American Airlines years ago, but upon taking the helm two years ago CEO Robert Isom told employees not to spend a dollar they don’t have to and that appears to mean cutbacks to the most expensive American Airlines products.

American Airlines Flagship First Class serves the same meals as business class, plus a soup course. they’ve dropped wine lists from business class for the next few months, with the airline telling customers to talk through wine options with flight attendants who have been given no new training on wines.

And while new amenity kits, bedding, and meals are supposed to be introduced with new business class seats that should first be delivered with the next round of Boeing 787-9 aircraft if cardboard amenity kits are any indication I’m not hopeful. Delta introduced indigenous amenity kits that ‘reduce single use plastics’ and American said hold my non-GMO biodynamic beer.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Qatar has done this too for flights towards Doha and though I appreciate the bash towards US carriers, I think Qatar deserves a bigger notice towards their ‘bespoke boxes.’ Where is my proper amenity kit???!!!

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