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Guest Post: British Airways First Class Experience | JFK-LHR-CDG

This is a guest post from my good friend KiloTangoOne

 

Last month, I flew JFK-LHR-CDG via British Airways in First Class.

Full-fare price: $8,471 | Redeemed for 62,500 American Airlines AAdvantage miles + carrier charges, taxes, and fees.

I took my time at the airport, arriving in the morning for an evening flight out of JFK to try the breakfast, lunch, and dinner service. Once onboard, I settled into my seat and gave a box of Godiva chocolates to the Cabin Services Director (CSD) after takeoff. The flight attendants noticed that I was a student pilot (I was wearing an epaulet shirt) so after landing, I got a tour of the cockpit. I deliberately requested a ~9 hour layover in LHR to again try the breakfast, lunch, and dinner service. I also took advantage of the complimentary spa treatments at both airports. Ultimately, I think I got every penny’s worth out of the trip.

 

Arab Giggolo – On Oil Prices and Amenity Quality

IMG_3056

On my recent flights from PER to DOH and onwards to TXL I received these Giorgio Armani branded amenity kits from Qatar.

I have previously written what I think about such luxury-branded amenity kits. One the one hand it is really nice to get something with value but on the other hand I just love airline-branded amenity kits.

The kit included a small Armani cologne and a large after shave cream (probably very useful for people that use after shave cream).

 

 

 

IMG_3057Besides the Armani amenities it includes a Qatar-branded bag that comes in very cheap quality. It includes an eye mask (Hey Qatar, You used to hand out better facial bras!), socks, earplugs in a nice plastic case, and a Rituals lip balm.

To be honest, I have to say that I am very disappointed in Qatar about downgrading their amenity kit. From Ferragamo to Armani itself is already a downgrade but what turn me off the most is the cheap bag that substituted the previous amenity bag that came in the branding of the Qatar pajamas.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3059Furthermore I miss the 2014 eye mask that used to beat everything I have seen so far. The new one is still ok but behind the Lufthansa First mask and the Cathay Pacific business class mask.

 

It was kind of clear that Qatar won’t be able to keep up its own standards forever (especially given an oil price collapse) and thus is just natural that economic realities have caught up with their inflight amenities (their Doha lounge is still somewhere in Asgard…). Their blankets have apparently also become thinner and I wonder when their awesome slippers will be downgraded or totally disappear.

 

IMG_3041AmenityBoy’s Assessment

1) Overall presentation of the kit: 2

2) Quality of the case: 2

3) Quality of the toiletries and other stuff: 2

4) Degree of luxury: 1

5) Surprise factor: 2

 

 

 

 

IMG_3058Overall: 1.8

1 = Flying Red Carpet

2 = Volkswagen of the Skies

3 = Seniority First – Style Last

4 = Absurdistan Airways

Understanding Lufthansa III – The Return of the Kit

IMG_3037This is the third part of the 2014 Lufthansa amenity kit saga. When flying LH from LOS to FRA I didn’t only run into a former high school class mate flying for Lufthansa these days (and even serving my sector in premium class) but also saw some hope for Lufthansa’s amenity kit strategy.

Lufthansa upgraded their amenity kit case. The case is still far away from marking the gold standard of amenity kits but it might be merely a small step for the premium class industry but a giant one for Lufthansa. I still wouldn’t use the case for other travel but appreciate that Lufthansa saw the signs and acted.

  

IMG_3038Most of the amenities are the same boring Lufthansa amenities: Boring, cheap, and no corporate branding.

 

But then I found this little beauty in the case!

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3039Yepp, that’s an old school notebook in LH design showing an Mad Men-esque departure table. Though it has LH business class branding it is an authentic Moleskine notebook. This is what I mean when I write about surprise factor. Who would guess that Lufthansa hides a cute little notebook in your amenity kit?

 

Lufthansa definitely managed to bounce up after a semester of terrible amenity kits. I do appreciate their effort to show that they don’t want to stay in amenity nirvana but still think that they have to go a long way to swim with the big fish in the amenity aquarium.

 

 

 

AmenityBoy’s Assessment

IMG_30401) Overall presentation of the kit: 3

2) Quality of the case: 2

3) Quality of the toiletries and other stuff: 3

4) Degree of luxury: 3

5) Surprise factor: 2

Overall: 2.6

1 = Flying Red Carpet

2 = Volkswagen of the Skies

3 = Seniority First – Style Last

4 = Absurdistan Airways

Understanding Lufthansa II – Ordinary as hell

IMG_3034So this is part two of my assessment of Lufthansa’s amenity kit performance in 2014. This will review the most-common Lufthansa kit of 2014. I have gotten about eight of them in the last year and thus would just assume that this was LH’s standard product on most flights. Interesting enough is that I got this one before and after having to deal with The Tube.

When comparing this navy blue case to The Tube I have to say that this is already an improvement (though The Tube was apparently merely an interlude). But when comparing this case to LH’s competitors it reminds one more in some exhibition of daily goods produced by a people’s owned factory in an East German museum. It feels cheap, it looks cheap, and it is cheap.

IMG_3035Surprise: The content is the same as what can be found in The Tube just without the plastic wrapping. Yawn…

The only real positive aspect of this kit is that Lufthansa clearly shows its brand and states that this kit is for business class. This is nice, but it feels like an Hermes tie on an H&M shirt…

 

While this kit is definitely better than The Tube it is still a downer compared to what else Lufthansa has to offer in business class. My blunt guess is that some executives at Lufthansa tried to drive a trend in the industry to marginalize amenity kits following the motto ‘We have improved the inflight experience that much that such amenities aren’t necessary anymore’. The only problem with such (efficiency leveraging) moves come up when your competitors don’t follow you and you quickly have to reverse your strategy. I guess that Lufthansa got this in bits and pieces over the course of 2014 and by the end of the year they even tried to say ‘Sorry’ by offering holiday kits.

IMG_3036AmenityBoy’s Assessment

1) Overall presentation of the kit: 3

2) Quality of the case: 3

3) Quality of the toiletries and other stuff: 3

4) Degree of luxury: 3

5) Surprise factor: 3

Overall: 3.0

1 = Flying Red Carpet

2 = Volkswagen of the Skies

3 = Seniority First – Style Last

4 = Absurdistan Airways

Understanding Lufthansa I – The Tube

IMG_3031This is the first part of a longer series discussing the evolution (or better zick-zack) of Lufthansa’s business class amenity kit strategy. Given that I flew very regularly Lufthansa and actually love the brand itself very much I feel that I have a big emotional problem with Lufthansa’s amenity kits of the past twelve months.

Lufthansa’s new business class is great, I love their service, on board dining is alright, their lounges are good and their customer service is competent and friendly. But let’s now focus on their amenity kits as these do (in most cases) not really fit into their brand strategy and value proposition to their passengers.

Let’s start with the (in my opinion) worst LH amenity kit of 2014. I call it ‘The Tube’ as this white case is totally made out of plastic (I know that they used to have metal ones on A380 flights in the past – My favorite Italian restaurant actually uses these as boxes where they provide you the bill in to their guests). It’s actually not plastic but cheap plastic.

 

IMG_3032Once you open the Tube you will find more plastic: All amenities are wrapped in another layer of plastic. It feels even cheaper than the Tube’s plastic. Once you unwrap it, it is basically impossible to get all the amenities back into the Tube. So I guess that Lufthansa’s amenity team didn’t even assume that passengers are going to reuse this kit or it’s amenities at all.

So what’s in the kit? Plain black socks, a dental kit, earplugs, the obligatory Nivea crème (for some time you also got it at most Senator lounges), and the terrible Lufthansa eye mask. I really don’t got how Lufthansa can ignore the advancements in the field of eye mask technology that much. This eye mask is at so stuck in the 90’s. A two-strap system makes sure that your hair gets totally messed up before you touch down and run into your meetings.

 

 

 

IMG_3033So overall I have to say that this is one of the worst amenity kits I have ever seen. The only really worse thing I have experienced was on an overnight JAL flight from NRT to SYD where JAL didn’t provide any amenity kits (and only one-size fits all pajamas that were impossible to wear for Caucasians…).

Given my grading below Lufthansa almost qualifies for a rebranding to Absurdistan Airways. The next couple of LH amenity kits will show that there are also positive signs that things are improving.

 

 

AmenityBoy’s Assessment

1) Overall presentation of the kit: 3

2) Quality of the case: 4

3) Quality of the toiletries and other stuff: 3

4) Degree of luxury: 3

5) Surprise factor: 4

Overall: 3.4

1 = Flying Red Carpet

2 = Volkswagen of the Skies

3 = Seniority First – Style Last

4 = Absurdistan Airways

 

Exotic Encounters – The Flight of the Condor

IMG_3053I have pledged to write about premium class amenity kits but would like to use this occasion to write about Condor’s Premium Economy Class amenity kit as it’s surprisingly innovative. I had a four hours flight from SXF to HRG and got very excited when the purser presented me with a beach bag look amenity kit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3054The socks looked super cute and bear even Condor’s name. The eye mask was soso.

It also came with a toothbrush, earplugs, and headphones.

This is definitely not the best kit I have ever seen but the case itself is awesome. Condor usually flies tourists to their vacations (mostly to beeches) so one can use this waterproof beach bag right after landing for storing your belongings when bathing in the sun. So overall I like this kit very much as it surprised me and one can actually used it after touchdown.

 

 

 

 

IMG_3055AmenityBoy’s Assessment

1) Overall presentation of the kit: 3

2) Quality of the case: 2

3) Quality of the toiletries and other stuff: 3

4) Degree of luxury: 3

5) Surprise factor: 1

Overall: 2.4

1 = Flying Red Carpet

2 = Volkswagen of the Skies

3 = Seniority First – Style Last

4 = Absurdistan Airways

Je Suis Air Berlin

IMG_3021On my second flight in the new Air Berlin premium cabin in June 2014 I was pleasantly surprised that Air Berlin seems to offer more than just one amenity kit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3022I was presented with an L’Occitane branded case. The quality of the case was sadly not of the quality of the recently reviewed Tumi case.

Even the eye mask had the color of the case itself. This is coherent and thus I like it. As one could imagine the L’Occitane kit came with eponymous toiletries.

 

 

 

 

IMG_3024Another thing I just love about Air Berlin’s brand strategy are the chocolate hearts. This is usually something you get when leaving the plane and can be always used as a little present for your beloved ones.

 

 

The kit surprised by its high quality toiletries but the case could not beat the Tumi one. I still think that this is one of the better amenity kits I have tested so far.

 

 

IMG_3023AmenityBoy’s Assessment

1) Overall presentation of the kit: 2

2) Quality of the case: 3

3) Quality of the toiletries and other stuff: 2

4) Degree of luxury: 2

5) Surprise factor: 2

Overall: 2.2

1 = Flying Red Carpet

2 = Volkswagen of the Skies

3 = Seniority First – Style Last

4 = Absurdistan Airways

Ich bin ein TUMI

IMG_3018In May 2014 I flew Air Berlin’s new business class fro the first time from TXL to MIA. Overall I was pleasantly surprised on how well done their new premium cabin was done. Both hard product and soft product are a huge improvement compared to their old premium cabin – Air Berlin is truly capable to fight with the big boys that fly across the pond.

The kit came in a Tumi-branded case, which is an interesting statement to Lufthansa that hands out Rimowa kits in their First product. While I like high-quality cases, I am always a bit disappointed to miss airline branding.

 

IMG_3020At least in the inside the Tumi kit says ‘Tumi for airberlin’, which shows that this is an Air Berlin exclusive case. I like exclusivity and thus like this.

The socks are ok and the facial bra is better than average. The kit also came with some toiletries from Rituals (they truly target the airline market…).

My overall impression of this kit is pretty good. One can see that Air Berlin is new to the premium cabin market and thus could build its amenity kit from the scratch.

 

IMG_3019AmenityBoy’s Assessment

1) Overall presentation of the kit: 2

2) Quality of the case: 1

3) Quality of the toiletries and other stuff: 2

4) Degree of luxury: 3

5) Surprise factor: 2

Overall: 2.0

1 = Flying Red Carpet

2 = Volkswagen of the Skies

3 = Seniority First – Style Last

4 = Absurdistan Airways

 

The Hub of the Environmentalists?

IMG_3045I had the chance to fly the Panamanian airline Copa for the first time in February 2014 from SCL to PTY. Copa’s services are heavily shaped by their former partnership with Continental that has been continued after the UA/Conti merger but Copa is currently looking into ways to emancipate itself and hopefully get a proper lounge at PTY (the hub of the Americas) as they are currently running with the UnitedClub crackers and cheese lounge concept. The six hours flight from SCL to PTY is one of Copa’s longest flights and they fly this route with one of their new 737s with a sort of ok Clase Ejecutiva (their old one resembles just the principle ‘Fat people seats’).

 

 

IMG_3047I had an early morning flight and was actually pleasantly surprised to be provided with an amenity kit at all and thus I guess my assessment of it will be rather favorable.

The case is decent and offers a nearly transparent look into it similar to the United BusinessFirst amenity Kit.

The kit includes hand lotion, lip balm, a wet towelette, and earplugs. Copa tries to convey an environment-friendly message by having some of the amenities packed into plain paper.

 

 

IMG_3046And it comes with this little card saying ‘This card was make with recycled paper and printed with soy ink’. I just really wonder why they printed this card at all, if they want to be environmentally sustainable. How about just providing passengers with stuff they actually want instead of handing out useless but ecological cards… (sigh)

I really liked the socks that came with the kit. Dental kit and facial bra are of the boring international standard. Overall I have to say that this kit didn’t impress me too much though I also didn’t expect anything too impressive from Copa. I just really wonder why Copa copies almost everything from United but not their amenity kits (one of the few things United actually get rights) – The answer is probably money.

IMG_3048AmenityBoy’s Assessment

1) Overall presentation of the kit: 3

2) Quality of the case: 3

3) Quality of the toiletries and other stuff: 3

4) Degree of luxury: 3

5) Surprise factor: 3

Overall: 3.0

1 = Flying Red Carpet

2 = Volkswagen of the Skies

3 = Seniority First – Style Last

4 = Absurdistan Airways

Stars and Stripes – Another Positive Surprise from ‘Merica

IMG_3049I flew US Airways premium cabin from PHL to FRA in mid February 2014. As with most US carriers their hard product was great but their soft product rather irritating for someone from the Continent (sundaes and grannies…).

Their amenity kit comes in a textile case that already looked very similar to American’s case. I really liked their red-and-blue branded socks and eye mask. This is cool: Airline and country-color branded goodies in the amenity kit (imagine Bavarian socks on a flight from Munich).

 

 

IMG_3051The kit also comes with US-typical pen, earplugs, mouthwash, dental kit, and a tissue.

Overall I liked the US amenity kit. American and US will probably soon merge their amenity kits (though they currently run their legacy kits which are pretty cool). I rarely travel on North American carriers but I am always surprised that they get their amenity kits right. This might be an interesting case study for Lufthansa (How can an airline get everything wrong but one thing right?).

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3050

AmenityBoy’s Assessment

1) Overall presentation of the kit: 3

2) Quality of the case: 2

3) Quality of the toiletries and other stuff: 2

4) Degree of luxury: 3

5) Surprise factor: 2

Overall: 2.4

1 = Flying Red Carpet

2 = Volkswagen of the Skies

3 = Seniority First – Style Last

4 = Absurdistan Airways

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