First-class flying is more than Champagne and caviar. The world’s most lavish first-class cabins also shower you with luxe airline amenity kits to pack into your carry-on.
Multi-course feasts designed by top chefs and 600-thread-count organic cotton bedding are not enough in these skies, where first-class carriers outdo themselves in bestowing take-home amenities. From Salvator Ferragamo bags to Bvlgari perfume, these goodies distinguish airlines in the battle for the highest paying passengers.
“Lufthansa amenity kits are an absolute differentiator for us,” Lufthansa spokesperson Jörg Waber tells Matador. “We take care that we have the newest state-of-the-art designs from the highest quality brands.” Those top-notch brands have included Rimowa, Porsche Design, Sinn, and Jil Sander, all of them German, and personal care products from Swiss brand La Prairie.
Lufthansa also updates the men’s and women’s amenity kits every few months, so frequent travelers don’t tire of the offerings. Each kit has a bamboo dental set, socks, eye mask, cosmetics from La Prairie, a hairbrush made from biodegradable material, earplugs, a bamboo shoe horn, and a thoughtful box of peppermints. And let’s not forget the pajamas and slippers for overnight flights.
While that’s plenty of pampering for a nine-hour flight from Berlin to New York, a non-stop from Dubai to Los Angeles takes over 16 hours. The discerning (and wealthy or well-employed) passenger may desire even more luxury — and Emirates obliges.
First-class luxe airline amenity kits
The Dubai-based carrier doesn’t just give its first-class passengers any old pajama set. Their loungewear actually moisturizes your tender skin during that Dubai to LA journey. And for those long-haul flights on several of Emirates’ aircrafts, you can shut the door in your own spacious first-class suite. Naturally, if you or your company are shelling out for a posh personal cocoon, you need to have all the schwag that comes with it.
“Emirates’ First Class suites are designed to offer the ultimate in comfort, luxury and privacy, and the amenity kits perfectly reflect this ethos,” Essa Sulaiman Ahmad, Emirates’ Divisional Vice-President, USA & Canada, says via email. “Emirates prides itself on prioritizing our passengers’ comfort and wellbeing and spares no expense when it comes to these offerings.”
The round-trip fare for a first-class suite on Emirates’ Dubai to LA route starts at roughly $13,000, which is pricey enough but below its pre-COVID-19 peak. It’s also much less than flying private, which is the only swankier way to travel, according to the Emirates’ website: “As close as it comes to your own private jet.”
You’ll get your own ultra-comfy eye shades and cozy slippers, in snazzy felt pouches, plus the aforementioned Emirates’ Hydra Active moisturizing sleepwear. The pajamas retain their moisturizing qualities for up to ten washes, so you can keep your skin silky soft at home, too. Then, presumably, you’ll need to take another first-class flight — or order the PJ’s on Emirates’ shopping site.
You can also hydrate using the BYREDO travel wellness products: a cleansing towelette, facial toner, eye cream, chamomile sleep oil, and chamomile pillow mist spray. These are paired with a handy notebook and pen that you can also pop into your carry-on.
But BYREDO products are only the start. First-class suite passengers also get Bvlgari amenity kits loaded with niceties, among them Bylgari body lotion, lip balm, men’s or women’s deodorant, and a hair brush. Men also get Bvlgari aftershave, a razor, and shaving foam. The fanciest things in the kits are the Bvlgari fragrances – such Bvlgari Le Gemme Eau de Parfum “Tygar” for him and, for her, Bvlgari Le Gemme Eau de Parfum “Rubinia,” the latter retailing at $100 per ounce.
While Emirates has teamed with Bvlgari, Etihad features first-class luxe airline amenity kits created by the century-old Italian label Acqua di Parma, and EVA Air’s amenities are made by haute couture brand Salvatore Ferragamo.
In its own first-class suites, Singapore Airlines provides pajamas, socks, slippers, eyeshades, and luxe airline amenity kits designed by the luxury label Lalique. The mini fragrances in these kits are Lalique Encre Noire for him and, for her, L’amour Lalique, a 3.3-ounce bottle of which costs $175.
Not to be outdone, AirFrance also offers first-class suites on its long haul flights, (although they come with curtains on one side, not a door) and lays down a memory foam mattress when it’s time to snooze. Cathay Pacific meets that mattress with 600-thread count organic cotton sheets.
The first-class luxe airline amenities travelers really want
You can’t take the mattress or the sheets home — but, then again, an informal poll of frequent travelers who often fly first class revealed that luxe airline amenity kits are not their main priority. A female traveler said that while she loves the kits, they wouldn’t be the reason for choosing one airline over another. A male traveler, on the other hand, lamented that while he appreciates a good toothbrush, the “useless packaging, unused creams and ointments” add up to “so much waste.”
Airlines are aware of customers’ sustainability concerns — hence the move to organic products on many of them. Emirates has also introduced greener materials in its kits, including rice paper packaging for dental kits, along with brushes, combs, toothbrushes, and mirrors made from wheat straw.
At Lufthansa, Waber says, “Sustainability is a very important subject for our customers and of course for our company. Therefore all the kits must have a second use purpose and we already removed plastic, wherever it was possible,” he says.
Delta has gone a step further, eschewing the faux leather bags by big-name labels altogether. Last month, Delta introduced boho-chic pouches made from 50 percent recycled and 50 percent locally sourced cotton, hand-stitched by artisans in Mexico through the certified B-Corp Someone Somewhere. The kits keep it simple with an eye mask, bamboo toothbrush, eco toothpaste, lip balm, and hand cream.
Delta spokesperson Grant Myatt shared with us, “The new amenity kit eliminates five single-use plastic items like zippers and packaging, reducing Delta’s annual plastic use by 90,000 pounds. The traditional loom techniques and artisanal production processes also eliminate waste.”
Still, an inordinate amount of lip balm and hand cream tubes get left behind. In our poll, only half the travelers said they bring the kits home. What they value is the in-flight experience itself — starting with a private, comfortable, lie-flat bed. After that, they stressed the importance of good food and drink. Many carry their own noise-canceling headphones, even though the top first-class cabins we researched all offer these.
It seems, though, that even the most jaded jetsetters can be softies for elegant touches — like the single scarlet blossom in a thin white vase at each first class seat.
“The most popular item in First Class is our caviar service and the iconic First Class red rose (which is much appreciated by our guests),” Lufthansa’s Waber says.
You gotta love the sentimentality. Just consult the flight attendants before you take that red rose off your international flight — since fresh flowers aren’t always welcome by customs officials. With a bag full of so many goodies, you might not have room for the rose anyway.