An article appeared in the San Jose Mercury News in May discussing the evolution of amenity kits since their introduction around the 1950s. As a collector of the kits myself, I’m keen to know what the future holds for them as some airlines are foregoing fully stocked bags/containers and simply handing out individual products upon request or featuring them in the lavatories. It was also mentioned that several airlines are looking to offer kits for sale, a likely new revenue stream for the now unbundled industry. Anita Gittelson, Executive Vice President of major amenity kit manufacturer Wessco said:
Although she’s working with several unnamed airlines for this to become a reality, none of them have yet to introduce kits for purchase as an option. Emirates was quoted in the article as saying they don’t view them as a revenue-generating product, but instead an exclusive premium customer amenity. That makes sense for the truly luxurious airlines with stellar premium cabins, but I absolutely could see our U.S. carriers offering some type of economy class amenity kit for sale on international flights.
While it would be easiest to sell the existing business & first class kits already in use, I don’t think airlines would go that route for coach passengers. What we probably would start to see is a new generation kit specifically designed for onboard purchase, leaving the designated premium cabin kits as an exclusive amenity. My guess is that they would likely contain your basic toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, eyeshades, socks, and perhaps some mints. When I fly internationally in economy I already have my own amenity kit packed so wouldn’t be interested in the offering, but I could very well see the benefit for other passengers. As with everything for sale today on flights, finding the right price point would be an important consideration. What would you pay? I think it would have to be $10 or less.
Also not surprising from the article is mention of the kick-back airlines receive when co-branded products are purchased directly from the manufacturer when using the enclosed product information card (aka “romance card”) and related coupon code. Ms. Gittelson is credited with birthing the co-branding we see in amenity kits here in the U.S. when she persuaded Delta Air Lines to begin using Essentiel Elements products in their kits back in 2000.
Finally, for the Delta flyers out there, a “very special new kit” should be introduced next month in Business Elite, as Ms. Gittelson noted in a comment she left on my amenity kit review earlier this year. I’ll request a kit from her directly and will be sure to review it for a future installment of amenity kit reviews.