Thursday, August 14th, 2014

An Elite Seat Peek Into Who Delivers the Best in Luxury Travel

TORONTO, ON -- (Marketwired) -- Have you ever wondered what it's like on the other side of the business and first class curtain? The VIP treatment, the free-flowing drinks, gourmet meals/fine dining, the comfy seats or, better yet, beds. Ahhhh... the good life. And what about those secret perks in the complimentary "amenity kits" -- your own personal in-flight "swag" bag? The travel experts at Cheapflights.ca, the online leader in finding and publishing travel deals, have gotten their hands on and reviewed first and business class amenity kits from 27 airlines around the world. Now you can get the inside scoop on what's inside these bags; what makes them special; who would love them most and how Cheapflights rates them from one star (taxiing) to six stars (fly me to the moon).

"For many of us, First Class and Business Class are a mysterious place and we wanted to get a better idea of what life is like in that rarefied space. The kits are glorious examples of life's 'finer things' and a peek into a lifestyle that maybe, on a special occasion, we can achieve as well," said Oonagh Shiel, Cheapflights editor, travel expert and leader of the First Class kits review team. "After examining all these kits, though, we were struck mostly by the attention to detail and the touches of local cultures and craftsmanship that are a reminder of how diverse the world is and how exciting travel can be."

Part Hollywood A-list swag bag and part practical travel accessory, amenity kits are where airlines roll out the red carpet for their elite customers. Of the 27 airlines reviewed, which ranged from airberlin to QANTAS to Virgin Atlantic, only five had kits that earned the highest rating of six stars = fly me to the moon. Below is a brief glimpse into these four luxury amenity kits:

  • EMIRATES - Emirates is the world of the private suite and the deluxe spa experience (in the Emirates A380 that is...). Its travel kit is outstanding, dark brown leather (ever so slightly distressed), designed by Bulgari and filled with a mix of high-end (Bulgari) and practical (Gillette and Colgate) items. It's branded very discreetly.
    • Best bit of kit? It's got to be the leather bag. Soft, ever so slightly distressed, like the wash bag your grandfather used at boarding school.
    • Best for? Elite sportsmen and businesspeople who may not have been born with a silver spoon in their mouths but who would like to appear as if they had.
  • UNITED AIRLINES - United Global First - This kit comes in the United's navy-blue colour classic cosmetic bag and is filled with an array of products. United Business First - Packed in a patterned grey wash bag with a mesh back is a range of products ensuring passengers' wellness during the Business First flight.
    • Best bit of kit? The "value". Between the dental-hygiene products and the skincare products we could survive for a week on this kit.
    • Best for? Social-media millionaires with a short attention span.
  • QATAR AIRWAYS - Qatar Airways has grown from being a small, regional carrier to a globe-girdling airline, a regular in the Skytrax World Airline Awards (Airline of the Year in 2011 and 2012 and winner of Best Business Class this year). Qatar has a young fleet of aircraft and has set the bar stratospherically high with its faultless service and first-rate cabins. There's nothing as prosaic as toothbrushes, toothpaste or razors in Qatar's kits. Instead, you'll find everything you need in the on-board toilets. Junior flyers are not forgotten with Spongebob backpacks, colouring books and a soft toy that can be popped under a tired little head.
    • Best bit of kit? The ultra-luxe Dior and Ferragamo products.
    • Best for? Globe-trotting moguls and thought leaders.
  • JAPAN AIRLINES - Japan Airlines recently unveiled their new travel kits. There are two for First-Class flyers. One for flights out of Japan -- a beige canvas one for spring and summer, a brown one for autumn and winter flights -- and the other returning to Japan -- luxe corduroy in camel for spring and summer, and moss green for autumn and winter. This is the Japanese carrier's first collaboration with Loewe, the Spanish luxury brand that has been in business since 1846.
    • Best bit of kit? The bags. Japan Airlines 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.
    • Best for? High-net-worth creatives for whom form follows function.
  • ETIHAD - There's an interesting story behind Etihad's limited-edition kits. The airline worked with Sougha (it means "a traveller's gift" in Arabic), a social enterprise initiative that's preserving the Emirati heritage and promoting local artisans, to produce their travel kits. The kits feature patterns of Sadou, an ancient, Abu Dhabi weaving craft, which evokes the romance of Bedouin tents.
    • Best bit of 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.
    • Best for? Rich storytellers and novelists who like a rich back story. Admirers of companies that champion local traditions and heritage.

Amenity kits, you could say, are the icing on the proverbial cake, and every airline has its own recipe. To get the full inside scoop, check out the complete reviews and rankings (images too) of Cheapflights.ca's "Behind the curtain: Airline amenity kits unpacked" at www.cheapflights.ca/news/behind-curtain-airline-amenity-kits-unpacked.

About Cheapflights.ca, part of the Momondo Group
Momondo Group is an online travel media and technology company that is driven by the belief that an open world is a better world. The group now serves travel search and inspiration to over 17.5 million visitors a month -- plus 7 million travel newsletter subscribers -- via its Cheapflights (www.cheapflights.ca) and momondo (www.momondo.com) brands.

Skygate began the sourcing of complex air-travel data in 1992, while Cheapflights pioneered the online comparison of flight deals for users in 1996 and momondo launched meta-search in the Nordic countries in 2006.

The Group has offices in London, Copenhagen, Boston and Toronto, with a consumer base across more than 25 core international markets but users all over the world.

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