In the First Place ..


Simon Ward an expert in onboard passenger amenities, give us his views of First Class kits and offers up suggestions.

Airlines invest a lot of time when it comes to designing amenity kits for their most discerning customers. Every detail is considered from the contents to the material and brands they use. After all it’s the general consensus, Amenities, that first class amenity kits should be a gift from the airline to the passenger thanking them for their loyalty, recognising them as the most influential of their brand ambassadors.

In the early days of air travel, glamour and wealth were at its centre. It was a past time for the rich and famous – and the first amenity kits did not disappoint. The passengers onboard BOAC’s ‘All First’ Monarch service from London to New York received a complimentary ‘Speedbird Overnight Bag’, with the ladies being presented with a ‘Speedbird Beauty Kit’ specially created by Elizabeth Arden. In those early days of travel, Elizabeth Arden was the leading name in cosmetics, and so BOAC gifting these cosmetics to their passengers continued the luxury and glamour that was synonymous with air travel of the day.

So how have things changed? Looking at first class kits from the past 10 years, there is an array of high end brands, such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Bvlgari and Swarovski, which is no great surprise as airline today feel the need to align themselves with brands come what ever. Most get it right.

Emirates First Class Female Bvlgari

Today the design of first class bags are repeated year on year, alternating between leatherette, satin, and fabric, but fundamentally continuing the theme of toiletry bag for men, and an evening clutch bag for ladies, with the odd mini I-pad case here and there. It’s evident that the world of amenity kits has become highly-focused on creating something that can be taken away and re-used.


Oman Air First Class Swarovski Female Clutch Bag

It’s clear that, across the airlines, there is a great importance on the outer design of the bag, with less importance placed on the quality, or desirability of the contents inside – leading to a sense of disappointment from travellers who are wooed by the beautiful exterior. It’s the same old stuff just a different bag full of non-essential toiletries and another reason for first class guests to leave their gift, instead of scrambling for space to stuff it into their carry on. The amount we’re paying for a ticket these basics should be onboard for our use as a matter of course! Perhaps its time for first class amenities to move in a new direction?

Why within the kits do we find eyeshades, earplugs, and socks surely these should be offered and available to first class passengers should they require them during the flight.

Let’s not forget first class airlines also have the opportunity to tailor-make the passenger’s amenities to their needs, with the use of the passenger details on their systems. Perhaps this should be considered to improve the world of first class amenities. If I never uses socks during my flight, then why give him socks? I can always ask for a pair!


First Class Air France Givenchy Kit

It would be unfair to say that all first class passengers over the years have left their flight feeling disappointed and underappreciated. Some airlines and suppliers have mastered the fine art of creating that special gift for their guests. Over the last couple of years there have been kits that are simpler and sleeker in design, such as the First Class Air France Givenchy kit seen in 2014. This kit treated guests to large-sized Givenchy cosmetics, presented in a beautifully simple black leather box with zip closure. This kit truly felt like a gift, appealed equally to both men and women, but was compact without the excess amenities that would get left behind onboard. It was a perfect combination of design and content that hugely appealed to First Class passengers.

Etihad Airways cufflinks box kit

Another example of such class is the cufflinks box amenity kit presented to the gentleman of first class onboard Etihad Airways in 2012. It was a unique little gift designed in sleek black leather that added to the experience of Etihad’s male guests and a worthwhile amenity to take home after their journey.

This article was first published in PAX International Special Amenities Issue in June 2017