While flying in the back of the plane has become ever more stressful (and downright violent in some cases), passengers in premium cabins are being treated to more and more perks. Airlines now field phenomenal lounges and forge partnerships with celebrity chefs to create their onboard menus in an effort to woo high-end high fliers.
Many even provide their business- and first-class passengers with designer amenity kits stocked with luxury products that make it possible to keep up that stringent skincare regimen at high altitude, but also to walk off a flight feeling and looking fresh and fabulous.
Here, in alphabetical order, are the airlines currently offering the best amenity kits in business class, and what you can expect to find inside them. Scroll through the fanciness and finally swear off economy class forever. You've always known you were better than coach, anyway.
1. Air France
Some say France is the home of fashion, so of course the country’s national carrier has some of the chicest amenity kits in the skies today. The clutch-like kits come in four colors: turquoise, orange, gray, and blue. Open the metal flap and unzip them to find two compartments. One contains things like a dental kit and tissues, while the other holds the main prize, a stash of Clarins skin products including lip balm and Hydra-Essentiel moisturizing and cooling gel for touching up those under-eye bags before you deplane.
2. Air New Zealand
You can’t help but get into the Kiwi spirit when greeted with a hearty “Kia Ora!” as soon as you set foot on an Air New Zealand plane. That warm welcome continues onboard in the form of sleek amenity kits that match the cabin colors onboard. These pouches come stocked with fun essentials like brightly patterned socks and handy Air NZ pens, not to mention bespoke skincare products from native brand Ashley & Co., including hydrating hand cream and lip balm.
3. All Nippon Airways
One of Japan’s two major airlines, ANA is known for its refined in-flight comfort and service, and the amenity kits it provides to business-class passengers are just another reason why. These kits come courtesy of British organic health and beauty brand Neal’s Yard Remedies in a tasteful blue and cream bag with a strap for easy carrying. Inside, passengers will find dental kits, eye masks and earplugs as well as Neal’s Yard Remedies products such as Bee Lovely hand cream, Shea nut and orange organic lip balm and white tea facial mist.
4. American Airlines
Earlier this year, the largest U.S. carrier introduced new amenity kits in its rapidly improving business-class cabins. The handsome, slightly rectangular leather bags are produced by Cole Haan. They come in several colors including navy blue, slate gray and maroon. In addition to typical goodies like a dental kit, earplugs and an eye mask, they also contain covers for the noise-canceling Bose headphones the airline provides and C.O. Bigelow products such as lime-coriander body lotion and lip balm.
5. Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific is based in Hong Kong, one of the world’s art and fashion capitals, so naturally it offers its business-class passengers some of the swankiest amenity kits around. The kits themselves are produced by Hong Kong-based luggage brand Seventy Eight Percent (yes, it’s written out). They contain Jurlique natural skincare products from Australia including a citrus hand cream, balancing day cream for the face and lip balm. They also hold the usuals like unisex eye masks, cabin socks with sole grips for traction, dental kits and earplugs.
Delta has made a strong effort to elevate the so-called “soft product” in its international and transcontinental business class cabins, dubbed Delta One, through strategic partnerships with design and luxury brands like LSTN, Westin and Alessi, and its amenity kits are just another example of this premium push. Starting September 1, new kits include sleek hard-sided ones from TUMI's 19 Degree collection, which passengers can even take into TUMI stores after their flight to get monogrammed. They contain typical inclusions like eye masks (also TUMI), tissues, toothbrush and toothpaste, as well as a pen for filling out customs forms. However, the main attraction is the set of Kiehl’s products including Kiehl’s Lip Balm No. 1 and Deluxe Hand & Body Lotion with aloe vera, oatmeal, and grapefruit. The refreshed kits also contain mouthwash sticks and hand sanitizer for keeping those plane germs away.
This Dubai-based airline is known for having some of the best seats and service around. That same attention to detail is evident in the stylish canvas and leather amenity kits they hand out to business-class passengers with four designs each for men and women. Inside, you’ll find dental kits, brush-comb combos, tissues, and even deodorant and shaving kits for the men, and a compact and a scented towelette for women. There are also Bulgari Eau Parfumée au thé noir hand and face creams and eau de toilette.
Passengers aboard this Abu Dhabi-based airline are given kits with different designs depending on the destination of their specific flight. For instance, the kits on flights to New York have a pattern reminiscent of its street grid. The bright red one for Hong Kong is decorated with images of golden bamboo leaves. Meanwhile, the Sydney one displays water-like whorls in bright blue and white calling to mind the city’s famous harbor. Among the other destinations featured are Los Angeles, London, Abu Dhabi, Madrid, Sao Paulo, Rome, Melbourne and Bangkok. Inside, passengers will find sumptuous skincare products from London-based Scaramouche and Fandango such as honey lip balm and hand cream. What’s truly special about these, though, is that the kits also contain up-to-date mini guides of the flight’s destination from LUXE City Guides covering restaurants, shopping, hotels and more.
This Taiwanese airline has award-winning business-class seats and service, and recently upped the ante even further with new amenity kits. The hard-shelled cases are made by German luggage brand Rimowa and come in pearl white and seal gray. Inside, passengers will now find skincare products by Melvita, an organic beauty and cosmetics company based in the south of France, including natural honey face cream and lip balm, and argan oil hand cream.
You might think Sweden and Denmark cornered the market on Nordic design, but think again. Their neighbor to the east has long been a design powerhouse in its own right. Finland is home to famous brands including Marimekko, the fashion label that makes the colorful amenity kits for the country’s flag carrier, Finnair. These days, there are four versions of the kit, but all come with dental hygiene kits and Clarins HydraQuench cream and lip balm with essential rose wax. They’re perfect for prepping your skin for those cold northern nights.
11. Hong Kong Airlines
Never heard of Hong Kong Airlines? That’s about to change. The carrier launched back in 2006, but only recently began service to Vancouver with flights to Los Angeles planned to begin this coming December. Among other onboard treats, business-class passengers will receive new amenity kits designed in collaboration with Clip, an in-flight experience consulting firm, and Hong Kong graphic design house, Ricebowl Republic. The handsome canvas bags come in four different designs, each showcasing an iconic image associated with Hong Kong. One features the city skyline. Another shows the famous Star Ferry. The third has a sketch of Hong Kong’s Tramway, or “ding ding” as the locals call it, while the fourth has a drawing of a rickshaw. All four cases contain the same Shea butter lip balm and hand cream from L’Occitaine.
Despite not having truly long-haul routes, and fewer international destinations than some other airlines on this list, JetBlue doesn’t skimp on the added amenities for its Mint business-class passengers. Late last year, the airline introduced new male and female amenity kits from Hollywood brand Hayward & Hopper. The label is the brainchild of Marin Hopper, the daughter of Hollywood legends Brooke Hayward and Dennis Hopper. The female Hayward bags are made out of denim with a brass zipper while the male Hopper kits are made from natural cotton canvas, like a vintage script bag. Both bags come with Noyah kosher lip balm (vanilla for the ladies and spearmint for the gents) and Herban Essentials towelettes (orange or lemon-scented) as well as eye masks, breath mints, earplugs and a cloth for wiping down lenses and screens that’s illustrated with a photographic print by Dennis Hopper.
Art and aviation go together on Qantas these days. The Aussie carrier recently teamed up with 16 leading artists, photographers and digital designers from Down Under to put their work on its international business-class amenity kits. The initiative is part of its ‘Qantas Curates’ program. The new range launched May 1 with eight unique kits for men and eight for women. Inside, passengers will find ASPAR products from Australian brand Aurora Spa, including hand cream, lip balm, and facial moisturizer, as well as essentials like a wrap-around eye mask featuring the same artwork as the individual kit, toothpaste, toothbrush, earplugs and travel socks. Among the kits to look out for are “Bubblegum Dystopia” by Jacob Leary, “7000 Ironbarks” by Fred Fowler, “Hamilton Island 2014” by Nicole Warne, and “I Love the people” by Rachel Castle.
14. Qatar Airways
This Middle Eastern airline has won plenty of awards for the seats and service in business class aboard next-generation jets like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350. It’s also begun flying its innovative new QSuites on some 777-300ER routes. But no matter which plane passengers fly, they’ll find the airline’s signature amenity kits in business class. The hard-sided kits themselves are made by Italian luggage brand BRIC’S and contain the usuals like eye masks and earplugs, but also Italian Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio hydrating facial mist, lip balm, and anti-aging moisturizer. Perfect for undoing those little stress lines that worsen from the dry cabin air and the general tension of travel.
Passenger relations mishaps aside, United has invested heavily in its new Polaris business-class concept in the past year. Not only can passengers expect new seats on certain aircraft, but they will also find all-new goodie bundles like plush bedding and smart black-and-white amenity kits from Saks Fifth Avenue. The kits contain sophisticated socks and eye masks, but also Soho House Cowshed Spa products such as sweet orange-peppermint hand cream, calming pillow mist with lemon myrtle and valerian, a chamomile-scented refreshing towelette and lip balm with essential oils of sweet orange, rose geranium, and ylang ylang. Among the less remarkable but much-appreciated inclusions: hand sanitizer and breath mints.
16. Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic is known for breaking the mold, and its amenity kits are no exception. Dubbed “Relax Packs,” the kits that the airline hands out to Upper Class (what other airlines call business class) passengers were developed by Canadian bag brand Herschel. Folks on flights leaving the U.K. get hanging bags that they can repurpose as laundry bags on their trip, while those returning get multi-pocket “network pouches.” Both are made from canvas and leather and are stuffed with Rituals Cosmetics hand cream, lip balm and face cream as well as a This Works aromatherapy spray scented with lemon and chamomile.
17. Virgin Australia
Australia’s other major carrier also has some major amenity kits. These little black (for men) and off-white (for women) numbers are by Italian luxury luggage and travel accessory design house Mandarina Duck. The inclusions are what you’d expect, including dental kits, eye masks, and earplugs, though there are cheeky touches like eye masks that say "Sweet Dreams. "The most exciting feature? A little box of plant- and mineral-derived REN skincare products that contains Vita Mineral lip balm, Vetiver v7 hand and body cream and Evercalm global protection day cream that will help you look fresh, even when you land after a 15-hour flight across the Pacific.
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