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Christmas stockings in the sky

Amenity kits for first- and business-class travellers have become such hot commodities that some airlines are commissioning luxury fashion labels to design them

On-board amenity kits for first- and business-class passengers on international flights are becoming hot- ticket items.

While carriers may be stripping away perks for economy customers, they are lavishing them on the front-of-the-plane set.

Mr George Hobica, founder of the site, airfarewatchdog.com, said until a few years ago, the kits were ordinary-looking bags packed with little more than the usual eye mask and ear plugs.

"Passengers would often leave them behind on their seats, but the upscale versions some carriers hand out today are keepsakes that have a second life once you've used up their contents," he said.

Some airlines are commissioning luxury fashion labels such as Ferragamo to design the bags, while others are tapping local artisans for the job.

And the toiletries go beyond the basics, with products from high-end brands such as Bulgari and La Prairie.

"I call these kits Christmas stockings in the sky," said Mr Chad Clark, owner of Phoenix travel consultancy Chad Clark Travel Ventures. "Everyone wants more than one."

Here are some luxe kits that airlines have created for their international first- and business-class passengers.

And even in economy class, where amenity kits are a rarity nowadays, even on long-haul journeys, there is one worth mentioning.


Singapore Airlines

Class: First

Bag: Men and women get separate Salvatore Ferragamo-designed bags, introduced in 2014.

For men, it is a chic black toiletry case. Women get a small cream and black clutch that could double as an evening bag.

Goods: All from Ferragamo: a lip balm, hand cream, cleansing towel and one-ounce eau de toilette from the brand's Acqua Essenziale line for men and similar products for women from the Signorina line.


Emirates

Class: First

Bag: The airline collaborated with Italian label Bulgari on eight designs - four for men and four for women.

The sets were introduced this month and will change every nine months. Men's bags are made of rich leather and come in brown tones; women's, in either cream or brown, have a satin finish.

Goods: The products for men include travel-sized Bulgari body lotion, after-shave balm and cologne, a deodorant, shaving cream and a razor from Truefitt & Hill; women get Bulgari body lotion, face cream, cologne spray and a towelette as well as a mirror and foldable hairbrush.


Etihad Airways

Class: First

Bag: Artisans at Sougha, a socially conscious group based in Abu Dhabi, designed the dark brown cotton bags. There are different ones for men and women and the patterns on both reflect the traditional Emirati Sadou style of weaving.

Goods: Moisturiser, hand cream and lip balm from New York City-based beauty brand Le Labo; pulse-point oil and pillow mist to help passengers sleep, a dental kit, cotton pads, Q-tips, socks and an eye mask. Men also get a shaving kit.


Lufthansa

Class: First

Bag: Passengers get kits from luggage brand Rimowa. They are available in deep red, dark green, black and grey.

Goods: Dental set, soft socks and mints aside, the travel-sized products from Swiss brand La Prairie are the highlight. They are suitable for men and women and include the line's much-touted Cellular Time Release Moisturizer Intensive, a cream that claims to keep skin hydrated and smooth for up to 16 hours.


Cathay Pacific

Class: Business

Bag: Emerging Asian brand Seventy Eight Percent, known for high-quality, sophisticated bags, is behind the kits, which come in either a rectangle or clutch style. They are available in a rotating palette of five colours, including turquoise.

Goods: Skincare products from Jurlique, based in Australia, including a citrus hand cream, facial moisturiser and lip balm. There are also a pair of anti-skid socks and a dental kit.


United Airlines

Class: BusinessFirst

Bag: A sleek tan synthetic leather bag wrapped in one of six postcards with images from the airline's archives, a nod to the company's 90th anniversary.

Goods: Hand cream, lip balm and towelette from British spa brand Cowshed, navy skidproof socks, eye mask, comb and dental kit.


American Airlines

Class: Business

Bag: Cole Haan designed the fashion-forward vegan leather bags. They come in eight colour combinations such as yellow and black. The shades rotate every few months.

Goods: All the essentials, including a dental kit, a US$75 (S$104) credit to use towards a US$250 Cole Haan purchase, foam headphone covers and lip balm, lime and coriander body lotion and mouthwash from New York City-based C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries.


Turkish Airlines

Class: Economy

Bag: First-class fliers get Jaguar- branded bags and Parisian fashion house Cerruti is behind the ones in business, but the pickings are far from shabby for economy passengers: The airline teamed with two upscale brands - Chopard and Institut Karite - to design the kits.

Chopard's is black, while Institut Karite's comes in four shades, including an eye-catching turquoise.

Goods: Rubber-sole soft slippers, eye shades, soft non-skid rubber-sole tube socks, a hairbrush, ear plugs, a dental kit and shea butter lip balm.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 16, 2016, with the headline 'Christmas stockings in the sky'. Print Edition | Subscribe