What Happens in First Class No Longer Stays in First Class
The prospect of a long international flight changes quite a bit for the rich, powerful and lucky who are seated in the front section of the plane. The land of lie-flat beds and warm cookies may seem almost mystical or a bit mysterious to most travelers. However, Cheapflights.com, the online leader in finding and publishing travel deals, is shedding light on this VIP experience.
On many airlines around the world, First Class travel is a true A-lister moment. The seemingly royal treatment starts with an abbreviated security line and luxury departure lounge just for you and your fellow cabin-mates. And, as if a little champagne before take-off isn’t enough, wait until you see your passenger goodie bag. Yes, goodie bag. It’s like attending the Oscars, only with no commercial breaks!
These passenger “amenity” kits are where many airlines shine in creating a first-class experience. And the team at Cheapflights has done the legwork to get the inside scoop on what’s inside the bags for 27 airlines from around the world, from airberlin to Virgin Atlantic. Our team is not only sharing the details but our take on what makes them special, who would appreciate them most and how they rank on a scale of 1 (taxiing) to 6 (fly me to the moon).
“There is so much to love about travel,” said Melisse Hinkle, site editor at Cheapflights.com. “And there’s even more to love, of course, if you’re traveling First or Business Class. These kits show that some airlines make the worlds of travel and luxury come together in ways that drive us harder to hoard our miles, scratch our lottery tickets and generally plan for our dream trips.”
Fuel your “dream trip” planning with a look inside the kits of five airlines that are taking off regularly from U.S. airports to far-flung destinations:
· Delta – This globe-trotting American airline carries 165 million passengers each year. It has an extensive set of alliances and, if you look at their travel kit (partnered with Tumi, the premium travel, business and lifestyle accessories brand, and Malin+Goetz, the skincare product brand), you'll see that it mirrors the airline’s strong global presence.
o Best bit of kit? The functional packaging. The eye mask is wrapped in a red card saying “sleep.” The hand wipe is labeled “clean,” the ear plugs “quiet.”
o Star rating? Five stars. This is a refreshing “does what it says on the tin” kit.
o Best for? Atlantic-hopping businesspeople who know the value of money and who like to switch off once they get on a flight.
· British Airways – The British flag carrier lets you hop to the U.K. and from there the world from well more than a dozen U.S. airports. And, along the way, it does a classy job with kits tailored for both men and women, highlighting the best in British design. Kits for both First Class and World Club come loaded with luxury products. The First Class kits come in soft-sides “washbags” while the World Club goodies come stashed neatly in an attractive drawstring bag that could easily be a laundry bag later on.
o Best bit of kit? The skincare products. But we’re fond of the bags too.
o Star rating? Five stars. Dependable luxury never goes out of style.
o Best for? Upwardly mobile Britons, posh Americans, minor and major royals, supermodels, actors off to their next movie location.
· Emirates – Now connecting nine U.S airports to Dubai (and one to Milan) and onward to Asia, Australia and Africa, Emirates is introducing Americans to the world of the private suite and the deluxe spa experience (in the Emirates A380 that is...). Its travel kit is outstanding, dark brown leather (ever so slightly distressed), designed by Bulgari and filled with a mix of high-end (Bulgari) and practical (Gillette and Colgate) items. It’s branded very discreetly.
o Best bit of kit? It’s got to be the leather bag. Soft, ever so slightly distressed, like the wash bag your grandfather used at Harvard.
o Star rating? We’re giving it six stars – fly us to the moon. It’s a kit that says “I can afford not to worry about brands.” Traditional and practical, classy but easy on the bling.
o Best for? Elite sportsmen and businesspeople who may not have been born with a silver spoon in their mouths but who would like to appear as if they had.
· JetBlue – For this airline, far-flung means California or New York. However, JetBlue has taken the game to the legacy airlines with its innovative premium-economy Mint class (including four single-seat suites with doors that close) and a snazzy tie-up with Birchbox, the “discovery commerce” company that sends you curated boxes of beauty and grooming products. Currently, Mint is available on the most popular air route in the USA (New York JFK to Los Angeles), but JetBlue plans to add Mint service on its New York to San Francisco flights at the end of October.
o Best bit of kit? The ever-changing nature of Birchbox. We got Liz Earle; next month who knows which high-end treatment will appear on your low-cost (ish) flight?
o Star rating? Four stars. High life.
o Best for? Hipster travelers who like a bit of “discovery commerce.”
· Japan Airlines – This direct link to Tokyo and beyond serves 36 international destinations, including seven in the U.S. (eight when you count Guam), as well as 54 in Japan. And First Class passengers are being greeted with recently unveiled new travel kits. There are two for First-Class flyers. One for flights out of Japan - a beige canvas one for spring and summer, a brown one for autumn and winter flights - and the other returning to Japan - luxe corduroy in camel for spring and summer, and moss green for autumn and winter. This is the Japanese carrier’s first collaboration with Loewe, the Spanish luxury brand that has been in business since 1846.
o Best bit of kit? The bags. Japan Airlines has thought of everything. They’re beautifully engineered with an innovative zip / strap on the camel corduroy one and a hanger in the canvas bag. We’re dying to see the moss-green corduroy bag. We’d book flights for it.
o Star rating? Six stars. Fly me to the moon. We expect cutting-edge design, function and a general “wow!” factor from the Japanese and these kits deliver it. In spades.
o Best for? High-net-worth creatives for whom form follows function.
To get the full inside scoop on these kits and to check out the complete reviews and rankings (images too) for all 27 airlines, visit Cheapflights.com’sUnveiled: The secret perks of flying first class at http://www.cheapflights.com/news/unveiled-secret-perks-flying-first-class-airline-amenity-kits.