Updated from 10:47 a.m. EDT
It used to be that airlines went overboard in wooing first-class passengers, including the provision of a lavish amenity kit for one's in-flight convenience.
Nowadays, though, it seems that such niceties belong to the bygone era of being able to carry on your own drinking water.
We decided to check in with several carriers to see what was on offer for the international jet set, or the remnants of same -- the sad sacks who don't have a timeshare in a private plane, or access to the company wings.
no longer has a "First Class," having combined First and Business to create BusinessFirst.
They provide a unisex kit with a nubbly gray texture that closes with two snaps and is stocked with "premium aromatherapy products" made by Escents, including hand and body lotion, lip balm, a "refreshing cleansing cloth" and breath mints, plus Crest toothpaste, toothbrush (with cap), socks, ear plugs, a pen and a folding comb/brush.
The nice bit is, this could readily be restocked and used as a hanging kit (it has a loop) with see-through zippered mesh pockets.
offers different kits for women (lip balm, one-stop cleanser, a cream to combat circulation problems in the legs) and men (shaving oil, firming eye contour serum and facial lift), all by top-of-the-line French cosmetic manufacturer
. Customers also receive "pyjamas," slippers, socks, shoebag and shoehorn.
The amenity kits change color every six months, to a "different shade specific to each cabin," and specific to the duration of the flight.
also believes in providing separate kits for men and women, although both kits share items such as the toothbrush set, slumber mask, ear plugs and towel, plus a "cooling gel sheet for legs" and "cool refreshing strips."
Where they differ is in the product set (Shiseido for men, Shiseido's Cle de Peau line for women), which offers cleansing foam for both, but "toning" lotion for men vs. "balancing" lotion for women, and a revitalizer for the males, while a moisturizer is available for the ladies.
In First Class, JAL also provides its "very popular honeycomb mask," to avoid dryness in the nose and throat, but -- and this is a rather large but, to our mind -- those in Executive Class are reduced to having to ask for "individual amenities," rather than receiving a full kit. (Everybody on every airline, or so it would seem, has to ask the staff for shaving equipment; such is security, one assumes.)
However, so that all hope is not lost for those Executive Class folks, the airline does offer green bamboo sticks "as a healthcare product to massage the soles of your feet." It's a nice introduction to the national culture, so please do not misuse them on the airline staff.
The winner of this particular bunch would be the grand folks at
, which forks over a brown velvet, square, zippered case by esteemed English handbag designer
(Hindmarch's "I'm Not A Plastic Bag" $15 canvas tote bags
last year when sold through her stores and at
, the company had to cancel proposed sales in Asia for fear of rioting).
Inside, along with a nostalgic sepia photograph on the inner lid dating back to the early days of aviation, is a terrific assortment of top-notch items, such as moisturizer and lip balm from Kiehl's Since 1851 (New York-based) and Elgydium toothpaste and mouthwash (French), as well as "cozy" socks, a pair of velvet eyeshades, earplugs (the only item outside of the kit itself that appears to have been made in Great Britain) and a wrapping list that explains each item and how it is to be used, as well as contact information for all the products involved.
British Airways, we officially approve.
Of course, if you're really the fussy type, you're better off stocking up on travel sizes of your favorite products than relying on the generosity of the airlines, which went out of fashion around the same time as dressing up to travel.
Know What You Own:
Some other companies in the airline industry, like Continental Airlines, include American Airlines' parent
, currently trading down 9.3% at $9.68;
, down 8.8% at $11.04;
, down 3% at $12.02;
, down 3% at $12.04; and
, currently trading roughly flat on the day at $5.