American’s 2015 premium cabin amenity kits were super cool for anyone who loves the industry the way that I do — kits for the different airlines that together make up the company American Airlines is today.
There were 9 different kits honoring carriers like America West, TWA, Reno Air, and AirCal. American itself was initially founded out of about 80 different airlines circa 1930. And there were no kits for carriers like Trans Caribbean Airways, Lake Central, Empire, or Trump Shuttle (which became the US Airways Shuttle and now American Shuttle). The TWA kit was my favorite.
The next year brought decent products but fairly workmanlike Cole Haan kits. Last year’s new Cole Haan kits I thought were fairly uninspired.
So imagine my surprise when American Airlines sent me a set of new amenity kits they’ve rolled out across premium cabins that I actually really like?
What are Amenity Kits For?
Sure there’s some stuff you may use inflight and that’s part of the premium cabin experience, although historically Singapore Airlines didn’t give out kits in business class but stocked the lavatories with plenty of things you might need.
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 absolutely matters for reputation and repeat business.
However the kits also serve as a takeaway. I still use a first class ANA kit from 2016 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.
You’re going to walk away from an Emirates first class flight with a literal haul, they give you an Emriates tote bag to take your amenity kit and other items with you. They clearly offer a message of luxurious abundance.
Singapore Airlines gives large sized amenities, not just small sample sizes, which I like and of course they’re premium brands. For years it was Ferragamo, hard to pick a more premium name. I really liked when they used to offer Ferragamo Tuscan Soul. Full-sized premium items are great for my home guestroom bath.
For avoidance of doubt American sent me these amenity kits unsolicited, I’ve had a look and already given them away.
American’s International First Class Kit
American’s international business and first class kits themselves are from This is Ground, a brand I wasn’t familiar with however others I’ve seen comment suggest it’s a premium name. Either way the kit has done one element of its job by introducing me to the company.
That’s because the bags themselves are quite nice. I’m not sure how functional some of the designs are for repurposing, the way I continue to use that 13 year old ANA bag as a shaving kit. But the bags feel incredibly nice, much more premium than I’ve seen from American in the past.
It has all the basics you’re going to want inside. Skin care products are Allies of Skin, another brand I wasn’t familiar with. I think you do want to go with premium recognizable names, even though those are less likely to fund the marketing of their products.
There’s moisturizer, chapstick, body lotion, a toothbrush and tooth paste, eye mask, socks, ear plugs, mouthwash, pen, tissues, and mint. Also inside is a discount code for purchases (more marketing) and an AAdvantage credit card ad.
Four International Business Class Designs
There are four different This is Ground bags being offered in international business class. They aren’t being rotated on a set scheduled or offered on specific routes. They are just different variants.
Like the first class bag I find they have a real premium look and feel. I don’t love latches that snap, and I don’t like the bag that opens up to all of its contents although arguably that has the greatest use potential after the flight. So the tan zipper bag is my favorite.
Here’s the contents of the kit, all four of which offer the same Allies of Skin skin care and other items: lotion, chap stick, toothbrush and tooth paste, eye mask, socks, earplugs, mouthwash, tissues, pen, mint — and marketing materials.
Transcon First Class
The transcon amenity kit bags are from Athletic Propulsion Labs, and the skin care products are Zenology.
Other than the bag itself, the contents of transcon first class and business class are highly similar. I don’t find the Athletic Propulsion Labs bags to have nearly the same premium feel as American’s new This is Ground international bags.
Inside are lotions, chapstick, wipes, toothbrush and tooth paste, eye mask, ear plugs, tissues — oddly no socks. And for some reason only the international business and first class bags contained credit card marketing.
Transcon Business Class
It’s funny but I actually think that the Athletic Propulsion Labs bag for transcon business class may be a bit more useful after the flight than the first class bag. Like its more premium cousin though it lacks the special feel of the international This is Ground offerings.
The contents of the transcon business class bag are virtually identical to the first class bag. For an airline that touts itself as the only carrier offering three-cabin first class between the coasts that seems like an omission or missed opportunity.
International Premium Economy
International premium economy gets a State bag, which is cute and compact, and Baxter of California products — another brand I’d never heard of.
It’s a nicely-stocked bag for premium economy, very functional if not particularly premium (as you’d expect).
American’s Amenity Kits Overall
I absolutely love the international This is Ground bags, especially the tan business class bag and the first class bag.
The transcon bags don’t feel nearly as premium and differentiating transcon business and first class bags more is a miss. Nonetheless they’re perfectly fine, and of course they’re given out on flights that usually hover around six hours, not 10 or even 14. Meanwhile the premium economy bag is nice and functional.
It strikes me as interesting that they’re introducing me to skin care products I wasn’t familiar with. I much prefer a kit that contains products with names that impress. I have to imagine these brands are making a play with marketing money to get in front of American’s affluent premium cabin customers.