Some airline amenity kits offer a lot more than toothpaste, eyeshades, and socks. Asian carriers, in particular, feature products from such luxury brands as Bulgari, Givenchy, and Shiseido. First-class passengers even get fashionable cotton pajamas they may want to wear at home. Here are our choices for the best in-flight goody bags:
The first-class men's kit from Dubai's hometown airline--made of handsome black leather--is the best package overall, featuring real Gillette (PG ) razors (not the plastic disposables) and a grab bag of luxury aftershave, cologne, and moisturizers. Ladies get a complete line of toiletries, including Clarins face creams and lip balms. All first-class passengers also get their own "sniff boxes" filled with aromatherapy scents designed to put you to sleep and wake you up.
Long regarded as one of the world's most luxurious airlines, Singapore raised the bar another notch late last year when it started flying its new fleet of Boeing (BA ) 777s. On those routes--including Los Angeles to Taipei and Singapore; San Francisco to Seoul; and Singapore to Hong Kong, Milan, and Zurich--passengers in all cabins are treated to Givenchy socks and eyeshades. Those in first class can wear their cotton tracksuit-style pajamas (also Givenchy) in their lie-flat beds, then wake up and pamper themselves with Salvatore Ferragamo lotions, aftershave, and fragrances in flight-approved bottles.
CATHAY PACIFIC AIRWAYS
Cathay's kits offer a plethora of luxury brands. The striped amenity bags provided in business class were designed by French fashion house agnés b and contain spa-quality skin-care products. Men in first class get a black bag from Victorinox, the Swiss army knife people, filled with lotions from Acca Kappa of Italy. A green or magenta suede women's bag from Vietnam's Christina Yu holds moisturizers by the Parisian brand Darphin. Especially nice touches in the first-class kits are the wooden combs and hairbrushes, as well as a sleep ensemble from Shanghai Tang consisting of matching cotton pajamas with silk knot buttons, slippers, and an eye mask.
BA spent $200 million to relaunch its Club World business class last fall with larger lie-flat beds and overhauled in-flight services. But passengers in Club World still just get kits packed with Molton Brown beauty products (the same kind found at BA's day spa at Heathrow Airport). First-class travelers get brown velvet carrying cases created by trendy English accessories designer Anya Hindmarch and filled with Kiehl's moisturizers. They also get pajamas--navy blue cotton knit with cream trim around the collar, with "First" emblazoned on the front. The top could even double as a light summer sweater.
The offerings of U.S. carriers pale in comparison with their foreign counterparts, but United comes closest with skin-care products from H2O Plus, a Chicago-based brand. First-class packs feature body butter and face gel, while business-class nylon drawstring bags provide just the essentials, such as tissues and toothpaste. Well, it's a start.
By Greg Lindsay