What Are Amenity Kits For? All 4 American Airlines Amenity Kits Reviewed

Singapore Airlines doesn’t offer amenity kits in business class, though they’ve said they’re considering it. They fully stock their lavatories with the things you’d need, take what you wish.

My favorite amenity kit ever was from ANA circa 12 years ago. They would give you the bag, and they would walk around with a basket of contents, you’d take what you wish. And then they’d leave the basket out in the cabin so you could take more throughout the flight. I liked this for two reasons,

  1. Most of the items in the kit I don’t use, not only during the flight but even later. However I’d take a few chapsticks which I’d actually get use out of.

  2. The bags were great, in fact I still use one of the ANA amenity kits as my shaving bag a dozen years later. It’s getting tattered but I’ve never found one quite as perfect for my razor, my electric toothbrush, and some allergy meds.

No one gives out quite as much stuff as Emirates.

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, and of course now they’ve moved to Lalique in first class. In any case full-sized premium items are great for my home guestroom bath.

A little over a month ago American Airlines sent me samples of their new Cole Haan amenity kits for international business class, international first class, and also their premium transcon first class and their premium transcon business (which doubles as their international premium economy kit).

Due to a mailing snafu I didn’t actually receive the kits until a week ago. But I’ve been thinking over the last week about amenity kits and what their purpose is.

I don’t use many of the items inside. And since I usually travel with just a carry on bag, they contain liquids and my freedom baggie is often already full, and my carry on may be stuffed I don’t always even take amenity kits with me anymore. The kit has to be worth the limited room in my luggage, and most aren’t.

  • Amenity kits are about providing something useful to make the flight more comfortable.
  • Amenity kits are a takeaway, a premium reminder of the airline and the experience.
  • Amenity kits are advertising to the customer about a brand. The bath amenities I use at home are ones I first discovered at a hotel.

So with that in mind how did American do?

Transcon Business Class and International Premium Economy

Here’s the business class transcon (New York JFK – Los Angeles/San Francisco) and premium economy international kit.

The bag itself feels cheap, not something I’d take with me or ever use again, but my expectations for these flights are very limited.

You’ve got a dental kit, socks and an eye mask and ear plugs, and inside the C.O. Bigelow package is lotion and lip balm. There’s also coupons for Cole Haan, C.O. Bigelow, and American’s bedding partner Casper.

Premium airline passengers are a great demographic to market to, and they’re sampling your products, coupons help to convert although if I were one of these brands I’d want to work out a deal with American to send post flight marketing emails to passengers after their premium cabin travels.

These aren’t super premium items, but they’re functional to help with sleep during a flight, and nice to offer on a domestic flight and ‘just’ in premium economy. I don’t wear sleep masks, I’d rather just close my eyes, the mask itself isn’t something that ever feels comfortable on my head.

Overall these are perfectly fine for the purpose they serve.

Transcon First Class

This kit is another bag I wouldn’t re-use, but I like the more bountiful kit and remember that these are being given out on six hour flights so the contents feel premium and in keeping with the overall experience American is going for on its cross-country three cabin flights.

Inside there’s a dental kit, more socks and an eye mask and ear plugs for sleep, but also tissues and a screen cleaning cloth and a stain removing cloth. The C.O. Bigelow travel kit has lotion, lip balm and a wet wipe. Plus of course there are coupons for Cole Haan, C.O. Bigelow, and Casper.

I like that the first class kit is differentiated from business on the flight, and the addition of the cleaning cloths are thoughtful. Although in a way I’m surprised that they aren’t just using their international business class kit for first class transcon, it would seem to simplify things to do so.

International Business Class

Here’s the American Airlines international business class kit, which strikes me as solidly within the range of average worldwide.

There’s lotion, lip balm and mouthwash; dental kit; socks and eye mask and ear plugs; a pen; tissue sand more coupons.

The business class kit actually has my favorite bag out of the four. The shoe bag is functional for the flight. American Airlines needs to offer slippers, because I’m not just going to feel good putting their socks over my socks. But for those taking off their shoes the bag is really functional, though I don’t know I’d have a use for the shoe bag at home as a takeaway.

International First Class

Naturally international first class is the most bountiful of American’s four offerings.

The bag feels flimsy. There’s a piece of cardboard inside to help the kit hold its structure. Inside you’ll find moisturizer, lotion, lip balm and a wet wipe. There’s a dental kit. There’s socks, an eye mask, and ear plugs. You’ll find a screen cleaner pen and a shoe shine kit. And more coupons.

American Airlines Amenity Kits Overall

These are perfectly functional. I have no real complaints but the kits don’t really stand out either. The international first class kit would make a fantastic international business class kit. The bags themselves have a certain usefulness but other than the shoe bag feel cheap compared to better international airlines. They aren’t Tumi suitcases, they aren’t quality leather bags.

I do like the American partnership with C.O. Bigelow, I like their stuff generally. However there are some missed opportunities — they’ve sold all the branding to other brands and should have “American Airlines” somewhere on them.

If you do have room in your bag to take away amenity kits, and you don’t use them inflight, something you can always do is donate them. Toiletries can be useful for women’s shelters or when there’s a local emergency like a hurricane that displaces many neighbors.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. Sort of doesn’t matter what (lousy) items AA has inside when the plastic they are using on their present cases smells so vile it makes me sick! First thing I do is hand it to a FA to get it out of my immediate area.
    OTOH – LH, SQ, JAL (esp. F) not only have products I can use inflight (hand cream, hair brush, etc.) but some even have lovely items I can use on my trip and return home (perfume) and, yes, sometimes those premium offerings lead me to buy products I wouldn’t have known about.

  2. Those haven’t rolled out yet, I think (I just flew business back to the States from China and got the same old bag). The business class ones have historically had a bit of color matching going on. I’ve got about a half dozen in different colors with the bags’ accent colors matching the eyemasks. They changed colors every month or so.

  3. Wow these new bags are cheap cheap cheap!! The old Cole Haan zippered bags were a really nice quality but I assume they cost way too much thus the new cheap flimsy bags. Oh well at least I still have a few of the old ones. They make nice bags for storing cords, cables, etc.

  4. I feel like this is the second or third iteration of the various bags under the Cole Haan branding and they’ve gotten worse with each iteration. And I guess 3Lab is completely gone and it’s just C.O. Bigelow all the way. C.O. Bigelow, by the way, is complete garbage from the parent company of bath and body works with the name used under license from the NYC store. It’s overfragranced cheap chemical nonsense that’s right up Doug Parker’s alley.

  5. The bag is very important, almost more so than the contents. Socks, eye shades, and tissue are useful. So is toothpaste as long as it is Crest and not a made in China or India generic. Colgate is acceptable toothpaste but the smell is a bit strong for a public area.

  6. I received both the Transcon Business kit (in red) and Transcon First kit (in green) last week. Green was preferred to red IMHO. While I do miss the last generation (faux leather, zippered kits), these are ok. User tip: I am using the Transcon First as a case for my iPad.

    While I have tons of amenity kits, I still love receiving them when I fly in a premium cabin on qualifying flights. I enjoy the act of receiving a kit that adds a little something extra to the experience. I repurpose them as much as possible and I do make an effot to take kits that I see that are left behind and give them to others. I have never received a complaint of refusal thus far.

    Overall, this series of kits aren’t the best that have been offered, though are much higher nicer than what American seems to be doing to “improve” their hard product on certain aircraft (i.e. 73MAX and retrofitting entire domestic fleet without PATV and reducing pitch).

    Overall, their Transcon flights from JFK to SFO and LAX are their best domestic product (that I hear will retain all the amenities). The Casper bedding is WAY better than what they offered post-merger and I do think the new cookies are almost as good as the old fashioned bake on board that LegAAcy used to offer.

    I am going to fly to Peru mext month on American and am looking forward to experiencing the Flagship Business ameinity kit then.

  7. My favorite item from any amenity kit I’ve ever received is the folding brush/comb Continental gave out 15-20 years ago. I still have some and still take one on trips with me.. (Hotels in Japan offer something similar nowadays in their bathrooms as amenities – but of cheaper quality than the ones Continental issued.) If an airline wishes to get my attention, a really good eye mask would be terrific!

  8. Crap like everything else American does
    Food, award availability customer service shrinking seats, gouging fees,inadequate staffing by FAs etc
    In a word a stingy airline in its sinking decline

  9. International Premium economy kits were different on my recent flight. Its not the one in my picture and the item were totally different.

  10. No amenity kits in first class on AA DFW-KOA or HNL-DFW routes earlier this year. I guess all bets are off when it comes to Hawaii?

  11. Again, feel like JetBlue is really crushing the legacy carriers with the Mint product. The bags have been fun and well-made.

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