Simon Ward gives us a brief history of the amenity bag
The amenity bag is a cherished feature of the long haul flights given to passengers in all classes and by airlines all over the world.
But when did airlines start giving out these bags of goodies? Was it the year the Festival of Britain opened, when Britons were seeing the recovery following the end of the Second World War? Or was it the year British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) introduced its new ‘all First’ Monarch service from London to New York, proclaimed as the last word in luxury travel?
BOAC passengers relaxed in a double-decker spaciousness of a pressurised Boeing Stratocruiser Speedbird with its lower-deck lounge and well-stocked bar. Passengers enjoyed cocktails and a seven-course silver service dinner with champagne, wine and liqueurs. They could then retire to the privacy of a comfortable full size berth for an extra charge of just £8 -19s
Every passenger received a complimentary ‘Speedbird Overnight Bag’ with the ladies being presented with a ‘Speedbird Beauty Kit’ specially created by Elizabeth Arden. At the time Elizabeth Arden was one of the most respected names in beauty and the cosmetic company has just celebrated its 100th anniversary
This year was 1951 and the year TravelPlus Airline Amenity Bag Awards will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the ‘Speedbird Beauty Kit’ amenity bag
For airlines today the amenity bag remains a distinctive and unique communication tool, reflecting the airline’s identity and appreciation of the passenger’s loyalty through added comfort. And as Elizabeth Arden discovered 60 years ago, amenity bags still provide the world’s biggest cosmetic, designers, and fashion companies with a high profile launch pad.
An airline amenities programme is a marketing opportunity first and foremost for designers and brands alike. It’s the big opportunity to showcase brand and products to as many people as they can. For a new brand just gaining traction, a deal with an international carrier to include their cosmetics inside their amenity bag can mean the difference between breakout success or languishing in obscurity. Contracts can represent millions of pounds of investment for the airlines who may change the amenity bag every three to five years.
In the past, amenity bags contained a flimsy flannel, a feeble toothbrush and a microscopic tube of toothpaste. Today, however the ‘must have essentials for any bag worth having are aromatherapy face creams, jet-lag-busting essential oils and rehydrating body lotions, all wrapped up in something collectable.
One of the most iconic ‘bags’ in the last decade is Delta Airlines’ commemorative tin full of L’Occitane goodies. The lid was embossed with the vintage Delta Air Services logo and gifted to Business Elite passengers.
During this years’ awards we saw bags designed by a number of the world’s most influential designers including Anya Hindmarch, Georg Jensen and Collette Dinnigan and all containing the world most desirable brands. The awards proved beyond doubt that the worlds’ global airlines care deeply about the goodies they give to their highly valued First and Business Class passengers.