Ever wondered what really goes on in those upper class aircraft cabins? A look inside the airline amenity kits given to 'high flyers' will give you an idea of how they travel in luxury and style.
While you might be lucky to get a pair of in-flight socks or an eye mask on a long-haul economy flight, passengers in first and business class are treated to amazing little kits stuffed with goodies from some of the world's most luxurious brands, including Chopard, Bulgari and Loewe.
Travel search and comparison website Cheapflights.co.uk has pulled back the curtain to give us a glimpse at how the other half fly, rating the top airline amenity kits.
The bags contain everything from shoe horns to pillow mist and many come in separate men and women's versions.
While perfume, nail files and combs can be found in some of the kits, fewer than 15 per cent of the 27 airline sets reviewed contained the most basic of personal items: deodorant.
Cheapflights told us that it was BA, Emirates, Etihad, Japan Airlines, Qatar and United Airlines that had its team of travel experts dreaming of the high life with their "bling-tastic bags, upper crust combs, luxurious lip balms and sumptuous slippers".
Want to know why travel experts rated these airlines' kits? Take a look inside the silky, hand-stitched amenity bags of 27 top airlines around the world...
Airline amenity kits reviewed by Cheapflights.co.uk
First class airline amenity kits: how the other half flies
What do you get? First class - In a Dior-branded black bag, for men, there is Dior Fahrenheit Eau De Toilette, serum and moisturiser. For women, the luxury goods are Dior J’adore Eau de Parfum products.
Business class - Male and female business travellers receive Salvatore Ferragamo Attimo products: Hand cream, lip balm, and perfume. Best bit of the kit?The ultra-luxe Dior and Ferragamo products.
What do you get? Pair of socks, eye mask, toothbrush, shoe horn, ear plugs, mini face lotion, mints, a gift voucher of €25 to spend on bogner.com. Best bit of kit? The bag. It’s soft, elegant and beautifully produced.
What do you get? Socks, eye mask, ear plugs, comb/brush, toothbrush, toothpaste, Chopard lip balm and body lotion Best bit of the kit? Chopard skin care products kick this amenity kit up a notch.
What do you get? United Global First: Socks, eye mask, ear plugs, shoe horn, hand sanitiser, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouth wash, flossing stick, tissues, mints, comb, screen wipe, pen, Philosophy products (facial cleaning cloth, hydrating mist, lip balm, moisturiser, hand and cuticle cream)
United Business First: Socks, eye mask, comb, pen, toothbrush, toothpaste, mints, ear plugs, sanitising wipe, tissues, Philosophy goods (hand and cuticle cream, lip balm and one-step facial cleaning cloth) Best bit of the kit? The “value”. Between the dental-hygiene products and the skincare products we could survive for a week on this kit.
What do you get? Socks, ear plugs, eye mask, toothbrush, toothpaste, Mentos mints, Escents Aromatherapy products (body lotion, cleansing cloth and lip balm) Best bit of the kit? The Escents Aromatherapy products. They smell like a Canadian forest on a frosty winter’s day.
What do you get? Eye mask, socks, shoe polish, shoe horn, comb, tissues, pen, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouth wash, floss, Malin+Goetz Neroli Hand & Body Lotion and Lip Moisturiser Best bit of the kit? The functional packaging. The eye mask is wrapped in red card saying “sleep”. The hand wipe is labelled “clean”, the ear plugs “quiet”.
What do you get? Inside the little brown bag passengers find: Eye mask, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, ear plugs, slippers Best bit of the kit? The slippers!
What do you get? First class: Bulgari products (nourishing hand cream, body lotion and lip balm), eye mask, socks, foldable brush with a pocket mirror, alcohol-free hand sanitiser, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash
Business Class: Eye mask, socks, foldable brush with pocket mirror, hand sanitiser, toothbrush, toothpaste, Clarins’ moisture replenishing lip balm, hand and nail treatment cream and hydra quench cream. Best bit of the kit? It’s got to be the Bulgari products, although the hand sanitiser is a winner. It feels more like a hand lotion than the sticky germ destroyer we are used to and we much prefer its alcohol-free formula.
What do you get? Everything you might possibly need on a flight: Toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, moisturiser, foldable hairbrush/comb, shoe horn, ear plugs, eye mask Best bit of the kit? The bag with the German colours. It reminds us of the heady days of summer 2014 when Germany won the World Cup.
What do you get? First Class: Lucky First-Class passengers receive a Bally-designed bag, filled generously with travel essentials - toothbrush, toothpaste, black cabin socks, eye mask, foldable comb/brush, ear plugs, Kleenex tissues, Ricola throat lozenges, La Prairie goodies (Cellular Time Release Moisturiser, Cellular Eye Contour Cream, Moisturising Lip Balm, Cellular Hand Cream)
Business Class: This kit is in a rich brown Qwstion-designed bag, another high-end Swiss company. On some flights SWISS gift an amenity “tin” contaning socks, eye mask, toothbrush, G.U.M. tooth paste, ear plugs, lip balm Best bit of the kit? The La Prairie skincare products.
What do you get? The Outbound Kit is tablet sized, charcoal grey with black-cherry stitching and a snazzy, silk lining (branded attractively as Virgin Atlantic Upper Class) and contains socks, a pen, toothbrush, eye mask, tissues, toothpaste, ear plugs, a paper envelope for Change for Children
The Inbound Kit is perfectly sized as a change purse (or pencil case for a lucky child) and contains: Socks, eye mask, toothbrush, toothpaste, tissues, pen, ear plugs, Change for Children envelope Best bit of the kit? The bags. Best-thought out bags.
What do you get? Premium Economy: There is a nautical theme running through the Premium Economy kits which consist of a laundry bag and a cosmetic pouch in navy blue and white stripes.
Comfort Class: The Comfort Class kits come in a wine cooling bag and a metal tin, both decorated with a world map motif.
The contents of all the kits are the same but the Comfort Class customers do not get earphones inside their bags. They contain: Eye mask, socks, toothbrush, ear plugs, ear phones Best bit of the kit? The wine cooler.
What do you get? First Class: It doubles as a tablet case and is stuffed with Dermalogica® skincare products, socks, eye mask, ear plugs, tissues, toothbrush, toothpaste, screen wipe, pen, Dermalogica skincare products (multivitamin hand and nail treatment, moisturiser, lip balm, facial wipe)
Business Class: Fitting snugly into the palm of your hand, the durable-pattern and size makes it an easy steal as a make-up bag or pencil case after the flight. It contains: Toothbrush, toothpaste, ear plugs, tissues, eye mask, socks, skincare products by Akhassa (body lotion, moisturiser , lip balm, towelette), coupon for discount on Akhassa products Best bit of the kit? The bags. That Eames Dot Pattern is a delight. Makes us feel like we’re Madison Avenue advertising executives (in the 1960s).
What do you get? Toothbrush, ear plugs, socks, eye mask, body lotion, lip balm Best bit of the kit? The Karité beauty products are choice.
What do you get? First class men's kit: Foldable comb/brush, razor, toothbrush, toothpaste, pen, Refinery products – shave gel, moisturiser, eye gel, lip balm and deodorant stick.
First class women’s kit: Foldable comb with a mirror, cotton pads, pen, toothbrush, toothpaste, Aromatherapy Associates products – rose cleanser and moisturiser, eye serum, orange flower hand lotion, a lip balm and deodorant stick.
Club world women’s kit: In an attractive drawstring bag that could easily be a laundry bag later on, BA has put together an attractive kit with Elemis cosmetics (facial wipe, moisturiser, hand and nail cream and lip balm), toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, pen
Club world men’s kit: Toothbrush, toothpaste, pen, socks, Elemis skincare products (shave gel, moisturiser and lip balm) Best bit of the kit? The skincare products. But we’re fond of the bags too.
What do you get? Bulgari au Thé Rouge body lotion, after-shave cream and perfume, Gillette shaving foam, razor, toothbrush, toothpaste, Axe deodorant, tissues Best bit of the kit? It’s got to be the leather bag. Soft, every so slightly distressed, like the wash bag your grandfather used at Eton.
What do you get? The Diamond First Class kits: Socks, eye mask, roll-on pulse point oil, pillow mist for a “good night’s sleep”, toothbrush, toothpaste, cotton buds, make-up pads, emery board, products by Le Labo, the luxury New York brand (lip balm, hand balm and facial moisturiser), shaving kit of Schick razor and tube of shaving cream
The Pearl Business Class kits: Socks, eye mask, ear plugs, toothbrush, toothpaste, cotton buds, pads, emery board, skincare products by Korres, the Athens-based brand (mint tea hand cream and olive lip balm)
Coral Economy class: Socks, eye mask, ear plugs Best bit of the kit? The bags, they’re beautiful, elegant and earthy. They’re helping local Emiratis, and they have a whiff of lavender about them, which means you could use them as a pillow.
What do you get? First Class: Deluxe products that have a touch of the rain forest about them. Wooden accessories with an Eco element - hairbrush, shoe horn, toothbrush, dental flossing stick, toothpaste, body balm, moisturising face fluid, eau de toilette, lip balm, black silk eye mask, ear plugs
Business Class: Verbena-infused L’Occitane cosmetics (eau de toilette, lip balm and body lotion), foldable brush/comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, pair of socks, eye mask, ear plugs
What do you get? The outbound kit is a beige that whispers “high net worth” and the items inside are a rich, dark-chocolate brown. They include a foldable comb/brush, tissues, ear plugs, eye mask, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, unisex Loewe goodies (lip balm, moisture mask and hand towel. Agua de Loewe fragranced).
Inbound, the kit is a rich, beige corduroy with a chocolate brown strap and contains an eye mask, ear plugs, tissues, foldable brush/comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, Institut Karite lip balm, Loewe moisture mask, Japan Airlines moisture mask (think surgical mask) Best bit of the kit? The bags. JAL 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.
What do you get? The great thing about JetBlue’s Birchbox in-flight kit is that it bypasses the tooth brush + eye mask + shoe horn formula of other airlines. In our sample kit – a sturdy cardboard box branded JetBlue and Birchbox, attractively designed with multiple fonts and a definition of “refreshmint” – there’s a green (mint…) drawstring pouch containing a sample of the Birchbox products of the season. For men: A sachet of dry deodorant for clothes, Hanz de Fuko sponge wax, Hand Healer lotion, LAB Series multi-action face wash, Tube of Super Close Shave Formula, Ursa Major ambidextrous face wipe
For women: Benefit mascara, Hand cream with sea buckthorn by Supergoop, Liz Earle Skin Repair Moisturiser
Avines all-in-one milk multi-benefit beauty treatment, eye patch, deodorant Best bit of the kit? The ever-changing nature of Birchbox. This month it’s Liz Earle, next month who knows which high-end treatment will appear on your low-cost(ish) flight.
What do you get? Toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, ear plugs, eye mask, comb, eau de cologne, moisturiser, wet wipe, shoe bag, lip balm, hairbands
What do you get? Turkish Airlines’ Business-Class offering exudes style: Non-slip socks, eye mask, stickers – “Please do not disturb” and “Please wake me for meal”, Crabtree & Evelyn Jojoba Oil nourishing hand cream and lip balm, foldable brush/comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, ear plugs, shoe horn Best bit of the kit? The bag. It’s a bright letterbox-red envelope of a bag.
What do you get? The Business Class kit contains a range of cosmetics: Socks, eye mask, shoe horn, ear plugs, mouthwash, body lotion, lip balm, wet wipe, nail file, comb Best bit of the kit? The attention to detail is striking: all of the products are decorated not only with LOT’s logo but also a quirky little white design on a light grey background; there is a nice feel to the soft grey socks too.
What do you get? Socks, eye mask, toothpaste, toothbrush, pen, shoe horn, hairbrush, Schick razor, Sperian earplugs, Rituals shaving cream, moisturiser and lip balm Best bit of the kit? The granite-patterned bag. It’s solid, minimalist quality.
What do you get? Saga (business) Class: Beautifully finished in true rustic Nordic style, these slightly woolly kits come in both light and dark grey felt. They contain: Eye mask, ear plugs, peppermints, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, moisturiser, hand cream from the Icelandic Blue Lagoon
Economy Comfort (USA only): A very cool design – a little brown bag with zipper top – it encourages you to “take a little nap” in traditional Icelandic fashion and contains: Ear plugs, eye mask, towel, Mentos Best bit of the kit? The Blue Lagoon products.
What do you get? Socks in Air NZ cabin crew colours, toothbrush, toothpaste, novelty “Beware I Sleep Walk” eye mask, Air NZ pen, ear plugs, Clarins HydraQuench Cream and Moisture Replenish Lip Balm. Best bit of the kit? The novelty eye mask. Air NZ has fun with flying (check out their safety videos and their willingness to rebrand for Hollywood movies). A good unisex product.
What do you get? Men's: Australian-designed toilet bag in black filled with SK-II Moisturising Cleanser, Age Revitalising Moisturiser and Facial Treatment Essence, eye mask, ear plugs, toothbrush, toothpaste, Gillette shave foam, Gillette razor, Rexona aerosol deodorant, voucher for an SK-II skin consultation and facial treatment mask through Myer and David Jones in Australia
Women’s: Clutch-sized Australian designed toilet bag in red filled with pocket mirror, SK-II Facial Treatment Gentle Cleanser, Facial Treatment Essence and Stempower Moisturiser, tissues, toothbrush, toothpaste, eye mask, ear plugs, Rexona aerosol deodorant, voucher for an SK-II skin consultation and facial treatment mask through Myer and David Jones in Australia. Best bit of the kit? The mirror.
First class airline amenity kits: how the other half flies
You may think luxury travel agents will offer the best deals on lavish getaways but don't rule out speaking to a cheap holiday agent. "Online travel agents specialising in cheap holidays will often list some of the same luxury hotels, but charge a much lower price," say Travelzoo's deal experts. "They will also give you a chance to book your flights with low-cost carriers, rather than flag-carriers, meaning extra savings (if you’re willing to fly low-cost)"
While many tourists will avoid a far-flung destination's 'wet season', this means you can take advantage of the lowest prices, plus some luxury hotspots don't get as wet as you'd think! "There are certain places that are great to consider for low-season travel when the prices are much lower but there are bags of advantages in travelling off season and you can get yourself a real deal," says David Pointer at Western & Oriental. "Cambodia, for example, is cheap during 'wet season' (May - October) and the storms are generally short and sharp with the temperature hardly dropping. You could also argue that the temples of Angkor Wat are more photogenic glistening in the wet and there are fewer travellers so it’s a good time if you want less crowds trawling the temples."
Become a member of travel sites that offer discounts on luxury holidays, such as Secret Escapes, which offers huge savings on luxe hotels, holidays and last-minute weekends away. Voyage Privé offers you up to 70 per cent off long- and short-haul destinations, and Jetsetter runs flash sales on a selection of hotels and tours with up to 50 per cent off the original price. We also love Travelzoo's Top 20 newsletter, which features 20 of the best deals on UK hotel breaks, cruises and luxury long-haul getaways.
By booking your flight and hotel together you could save hundreds of pounds. An Expedia.co.uk spokesperson told us that last year its customers saved £200 on average, just by booking their flight and hotel as a package. It makes a difference and you'll appreciate the extra £200 in holiday money. What’s more, booking two significant parts of your trip together offers protection and means that you're covered by EU package regulations, so in cases such as airline bankruptcy, the travel agent has an obligation to offer added support and protection.
Air Passenger Duty (APD), the tax on flying from a UK airport, has risen, so flights have become more expensive for British holidaymakers. This means that a family of four flying in economy class to Florida will pay £268 in APD, up from £260. The rate of APD depends on your final destination, so if you're flying to Italy or anywhere under 2,000 miles from the UK, you'll pay £13 per passenger, but if you've opted for Thailand or somewhere else over 6,000 miles, you will pay £94 (up from £92) per passenger in APD. So it may be cheaper to get a bargain flight to Europe, then catch another plane to your final destination. Steve Hoy Chief, commercial officer at bmi regional, says: "Some of our passengers have realised that when flying long-haul via continental hubs rather than direct from (or transiting through) UK airports, they won't pay the increased APD if they book on two separate flights. Although this option increases travel time, it may worth be doing for the cash saving."
Don’t book the cheapest room. "A hotel will want to take extra care of its VIPs and booking the cheapest room is not the best start," say Travelzoo’s deal experts. "By booking the next room type (e.g. a Superior Room) you might spend a little bit extra, but you have a better chance of being upgraded to the next room type (e.g. a Luxury Room) which is normally worth much more and sometimes comes with its own perks."
Follow luxury travel providers on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. "Companies often release special deals or little sweeteners via social media," revealed Oonagh Shiel at Cheapflights.co.uk. Your budget may not stretch to a super-luxe hotel but by following the hotel group on Twitter, you'll be one of the first to know when they have a special offer or a competition where you could win a holiday. Plus it won't cost you a penny to click 'Like' or 'Follow'.
Do your sums before booking and choose a destination where your money will stretch further. Andrew Brown, Head of Travel Money at Post Office, says: "Check the exchange rate - sterling has weakened quite dramatically but there are several luxury long-haul destinations where the holiday pound will stretch further." It's important to factor in the cost of meals and drinks as these can add significantly to the cost of your holiday if they're not included in the package. "Pick a destination where prices are cheap, such as Sri Lanka, Bali and Egypt," advises Andrew.
"Avoid the crush and try flying on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday rather than at weekends," advises Oonagh Shiel, travel expert at Cheapflightsco.uk. By flying mid-week you'll often find cheaper tickets as well as less-crowded planes. The same goes for hotels if you're booking a UK break. Tamara Heber Percy at Mr & Mrs Smith says: "If you book countryside hotel stays midweek rather than over the weekend, they are always cheaper. For city breaks, you can try to bag a bargain when you book a weekend: the lucrative midweek business travellers have left and hotels want to fill up empty rooms. Phone rather than book online, so you have a chance to ask a human being and request a late deal."
"Whether you’re travelling premium economy, business or first class, the APD is the same: double the economy rate," say Travelzoo's deal experts. "Tax is levied on flights out of the UK, so treating yourself to a bigger seat could be up to £94 cheaper when flying back to the UK." The chances of being upgraded are also generally higher if you book premium economy as these are often the smallest cabins and are the first to get overbooked. Booking a nicer seat for the flight home will make leaving your lush holiday destination a little easier too!
Don't just book an all-inclusive holiday because it was on offer. If you know you won't spend much time in the hotel and would like to have your meals at local restaurants, it could be a waste of money going all-inclusive. "Compare the cost of a self-catering holiday to that of an all-inclusive in the same resort," says Calum Macdonald, specialist at Latedeals.co.uk. "Work out the difference in price and decide whether you would spend that much a day on eating and drinking. Larger families will benefit from all-inclusive, and they are, of course, more relaxing as you don’t have to think about where to go for dinner but if you’re heading to a non-euro country, eating out can be good value – so you can spend more on activities."
As with airlines, the first to get an upgrade at a hotel are the people who are members of a loyalty programme - so sign up. Travelzoo's deal experts say: "If a hotel sees lifetime value in a customer, they will treat him or her more as a VIP and make sure he or she is extra happy. You have to give a little to get something back." Most hotel loyalty programmes are free so all it will cost is a few minutes of your time and you can start reaping the benefits, whether it's special offers or free nights. We like Starwood's Preferred Guest programme, which allows you to earn points on stays at W Hotels, Le Meridien, Aloft and St Regis, and redeem them for suite upgrades, spa treatments and unique money-can't-buy experiences. The Fairmont President's Club is another favourite of ours, offering complimentary in-room internet access, special invitations to member-only events and complimentary use of the golf clubs at select hotels.
Follow the bad news. "By keeping an eye on current affairs and when a destination is back on the 'safe' list (that's the FCO safe list) you can dive in and snap up the cheaper holidays and little sweeteners that hotels and resorts offer to welcome visitors back," says Oonagh Shiel, travel expert at Cheapflights.co.uk. "We saw this with Tunisia and Egypt in past years - great discounts, upgrades and free treatments to encourage Brits to visit again."
You may be tempted by last-minute hotel deals, but your holiday could turn into a complete waste of money and time if it's not your usual style of hotel. Co-founder of Mr & Mrs Smith, Tamara Heber Percy, says: "Instead, go somewhere that’s top of your list, but shave off a few of the non-essential luxuries: consider going for 10 days instead of two weeks; go for a walk along the beach instead of zorbing down a hillside; drink fewer of those cripplingly expensive 'style-bar' cocktails and a few more glasses of local wine instead."