FX Excursions

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Comfort First

Nov 1, 2005
2005 / November 2005

Rousing yourself from a nap toward the end of a long flight, you’re in that groggy state somewhere between asleep and awake. A refreshing shower would work wonders, but there’s no time. You’re meeting with clients within an hour of arriving at your destination. Your toiletries are tucked away in your suitcase overhead and it seems an exhausting chore to lug it down. This is the time when an airline amenity kit is crucial, and what’s inside is even more vital.

There were a few dominant themes throughout this year’s survey, the most notable of which was a trend toward incorporating “spa” and relaxation products into the amenity kits. The downside is that some airlines got so carried away in that direction, they forgot to include such basics as deodorant, shaving kit, cologne, hairbrush, face wash, mouthwash and a decent toothbrush. Plus, the broad variety of products offered made it much more difficult to select clear winners this year. That said, read on for the results of Global Traveler’s annual amenity kit survey.


Cologne/Fragrance
This category represents a dwindling commodity, as we found few airlines still offering a selection of scents in their amenity kits. In fact, only two carriers — Saudi Arabian Airlines and Emirates — continue to offer fragrances in their first-class men’s amenity kits. Saudi Arabian Airlines took first place with its citrusy SoMo cologne by Molton Brown. Emirates’ subtle Roger & Gallet scent took second. In the women’s fragrance category, Saudi’s SoMo by Molton Brown was the favorite, while Emirates’ Clarins Invigorating Scent was the runner-up. Definitely the best offering was Singapore Airlines’ Bulgari Unisex Scent — sweet, sophisticated and professionally packaged, it stole the show.

Since Emirates’ was the only business-class kit that contained a specific men’s cologne and women’s fragrance, its Roger & Gallet’s scent (for men) and Clarins Invigorating Fragrance (for women) were the un-contested winners in those categories. For unisex scent, Aeromexico’s offering of L’Occitane’s pretty Fleur de Lotus topped Iberia Air Line’s more subtle L’Occitane Thé Vert (Green Tea).


COLOGNE/FRAGRANCE

FIRST CLASS
MEN’S
Saudi Arabian Airlines
Emirates
WOMEN’S
Saudi Arabian Airlines
Emirates
UNISEX
Singapore Airways
Air France

BUSINESS CLASS
MEN’S
Emirates
WOMEN’S
Emirates
UNISEX
Aeromexico
Iberia Air Lines

Spa Kit
This category proved the most difficult to judge, as there is no clear definition of what exactly constitutes a spa kit. For the purposes of this survey, we defined “spa kit” as one that goes above and beyond the basics of lotion and face wash by including refreshing relaxation and beauty products. We rated spa kits based on the size, the brand and the practicality of each item.

With its large bottles of Clé de Peau cleansers and lotions, Japan Airlines took first place in the men’s spa kit category. In addition, the carrier’s eye-refresh mask would definitely be a soothing rejuvenator after a long flight. Air France came in second with an exquisite ensemble of Clarins products, along with mineral-water mist, a comb and a mirror. Especially well-liked was the Clarins Fatigue Fighter Gel — which, one tester exclaimed, “actually works!” Finally, American Airlines’ spa kit, which included a “dry shower” refreshing lotion, a body balm and a soothing foot/leg balm, came in a very close third. Also notable was Asiana Airlines’ full-size Bulgari products and British Airways’ Molton Brown items.

Unfortunately, it seems airlines have not yet addressed the fact that 40 percent of all business travelers are women. There were only four airlines (Emirates, Qantas Airways, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Lufthansa) that contributed first-class amenity kits for women. And the majority of the remaining kits contained mostly male-oriented items. It is mind-boggling that female business executives are still being overlooked. Kudos to those airlines that realize the importance of distinguishing between the needs of male and female passengers — and for acknowledging the ever-increasing number of women executives.

That said, the clear leader for women’s spa kit was Qantas — its assortment of La Prairie products had our testers debating who would get to take the kit home afterward. Emirates placed second with its array of Clarins products, including the invigorating Energizing Morning Cream.

When analyzing the spa kits in business class, we combined the men’s and women’s because of the scarcity of women’s kits. Qantas won again with its women’s amenity kit, though, which offered a number of splendid L’Occitane products. In second place, Air Canada’s recently reinvented spa amenity kit — offered in three differently styled bags — included a wonderful energizing thyme-scented foot spray. Aeromexico’s kit also contained an assortment of L’Occitane products, but in smaller sizes.


SPA KIT
FIRST CLASS
MEN’S
Japan Airlines
Air France
American Airlines
Asiana Airlines
British Airways
WOMEN’S
Qantas Airways
Emirates
Lufthansa
Saudi Arabian Airlines

SPA KIT
BUSINESS CLASS

Qantas Airways
Air Canada
Aeromexico
Emirates


Lip Balm
This may seem like a category that is interesting only to a 13-year-old girl, but the frequent long-haul flyers among us are all too familiar with the cracked, chapped lips that can result from hours spent inside a dry airline cabin. So, we took our research seriously, and spent hours applying and rating lip balm.

In first class, the La Prairie lip balm in Qantas’ women’s kit won hands down. Its creamy texture was light and moisturizing, and it stayed on for hours. Saudi Arabian’s Molton Brown lip balm placed second, while Lufthansa’s citrusy Clarins lip moisturizer staked claim to third.

British Airways placed first in business class: its Molton Brown lip balm had a smooth texture and was easy to apply. Next up, Saudi Arabian’s SoMo lip balm by Molton Brown came in second, while Iberia Air Lines followed at third with its extra-large L’Occitane anti-drying lip balm.


LIP BALM
FIRST CLASS

Qantas Airways
Saudi Arabian Airlines
Lufthansa
United Airlines
Emirates

LIP BALM
BUSINESS CLASS

British Airways
Saudi Arabian Airlines
Iberia Air Lines
Continental Airlines
Qantas Airways


Shaving Kit
Surprisingly, shaving kits were scarce this year. Both Qantas and Emirates offered top-quality shaving kits, but Qantas captured first with its Schick razor and shaving cream. Emirates’ kit included a large razor, Gillette shaving cream and Chrome after-shave, while Air France and Saudi Arabian delivered unbranded products. Also notable: British Airways’ and Continental Airlines’ amenity kits included a card explaining that shaving kits were provided upon request. Asiana Airlines offered full-sized Bulgari shaving cream and lotion but, unexpectedly, no razor.

Emirates took first place in business class (its first- and business-class kits contain identical products). Qantas came in second.

SHAVING KIT
FIRST CLASS

Qantas Airways
Emirates
Air France
Saudi Arabian Airlines

SHAVING KIT
BUSINESS CLASS

Emirates
Qantas Airways
Saudi Arabian Airlines
CSA Czech Airlines


Toothbrush

Editor’s Note: Guest tester Robert Shimborski,D.M.D., compiled this report on toothbrushes.

When asked to rate the toothbrushes distributed to first- and business-class passengers, I thought I would have a difficult time. Judging a selection of 13 first-class and 23 business-class toothbrushes seemed a daunting challenge.

Happily, that was not the case, as it was easy to eliminate most of them based on handle size. A full-size handle enables a person to use the proper technique and force to clean teeth. I therefore removed all the brushes with compact or miniature handles from my list.

The next standard was bristle texture. Like most dentists, I recommend soft, polished bristles. Some of the toothbrushes distributed in both categories had a medium-to-firm texture, and were therefore eliminated.

The last category was head design. While some of the toothbrushes in the amenity kits I sampled had three rows of bristles, most had four rows — which provide better cleaning. So, I dropped all three-row brushes from my list, along with brushes whose heads were as small as those I distribute to children younger than 6.

I narrowed the list to the “best” toothbrushes each in first class and business class. That said, it’s important to remember that amenity-kit toothbrushes are given to us as a convenience. They are disposable, intended for single use. All the toothbrushes I sampled would prove satisfactory for that purpose.

TOOTHBRUSH
FIRST CLASS

Qantas Airways
Lufthansa

TOOTHBRUSH
BUSINESS CLASS

Air Pacific
Qantas Airways
Delta Air Lines


Best Presentation

In this category — which takes into account the functionality, quality, originality and design of the amenity kit cases — Saudi Arabian won first place for its men’s first-class kit. The brown leather case doubles as an agenda-book carrier, complete with credit card slots, a zippered change pouch and other zippered storage compartments. Air France’s sleek, chic red silk case followed in second place, while Qantas’ women’s first-class kit — sophisticated and functional — took third. Finally, British Airways won a nod for its unique souvenir-like canvas bag decorated with images of London.

In business class, Qantas was the clear winner. Its three-compartment bag is the perfect combination of quality and functionality. Air France earned second place with its smaller, champagne-colored version of its first-class kit, while Martinair’s quirky “Jane of the Jungle Flight Attendant” tin offered a pleasant dose of personality, and placed third.


BEST PRESENTATION
FIRST CLASS

Saudi Arabian Airlines (men’s)
Air France
Qantas Airways (women’s)
British Airways
Air Tahiti

BEST PRESENTATION
BUSINESS CLASS

Qantas Airways (men’s)
Air France
Martinair
Air Canada
Qantas Airways (women’s)


Best Overall
While sampling the products contained in the multitude of amenity kits that airlines submitted for this survey, we asked ourselves, “What exactly do we need on a plane?” Items in the kits we reviewed included anti-wrinkle cream, nail files, facial mists, cellulite reducers and foot sprays. But what about deodorant, tissues and mouthwash? Wouldn’t a decent-size bottle of moisturizer or face wash be more useful in flight than cell-revitalizing cream? So, in deciding which kit was best overall, the frills did not prove to be as important as the basics.

The award for best overall first-class kit goes to Emirates for its men’s version. It’s functional and contains all the necessary amenities. The black leather case fits easily fits inside a briefcase. Its zippers open to reveal pouches containing deodorant, a hairbrush, a Bulgari towelette, Chrome after-shave balm, a Gillette razor and shaving cream, a package of Kleenex, Rembrandt whitening mouthwash, Roger & Gallet cologne, an Oral B toothbrush, toothpaste and Nivea lip balm. Although not all of the products were designer-label, each was large enough to last a traveler through the duration of a business trip.

Qantas’ men’s kit earned first place overall in business class. Its sleek tri-fold design and convenient packaging suggest it’s a kit that can be used over and over again. Among the amenities included within are mints; L’Occitane products including a facial cleansing cloth, lip balm and after-shave balm; a Schick razor and shaving cream; and a Colgate toothbrush and toothpaste — simple, yet efficient.

BEST OVERALL
FIRST CLASS

Emirates (men’s)

BEST OVERALL
BUSINESS CLASS

Qantas Airways (men’s)

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FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

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