The battle of airline amenity kits heats up

In the battle for airline supremacy, United has thrown the latest, softest punch – and it’s a cool-looking tin full of small toiletries.

On Thursday, United revealed its 2015 amenity kits will be accented by specially designed tins through March of the new year. The inner accoutrements—eye mask, tiny toothbrush and toothpaste, compression socks, small comb, ear plugs, mints, pen—will remain the same, but to the delight of the collectors among us, each new tin will showcase the skyline of one of eight global cities: London, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Beijing, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro, Dubai, and Honolulu. All that is required to obtain one is the purchase of an international premium-class seat with United – but what does this news mean in context?

Well, in April, United will double down by including golf balls, round and rental discounts, and all-pleasing golf socks in PGA-themed amenity kits – and it may still fall behind its domestic rivals in this oft-overlooked category. Here’s what the rest of the U.S. contingent is bringing to the amenity kit ring right now:

Delta’s Tumi kit is slightly girthier than most, earning it high marks from premium flyers. Its toothbrush is graciously not a two-piece connectable puzzle, as United’s is, and those prone to chapped lips will appreciate the included lip balm, part of the Malin + Goetz beauty product offering. There’s also mouthwash, floss, a comb and a shoehorn in addition to the standard items.

JetBlue’s Mint experience delivers industry-standard extras through a unique partnership with Birchbox, a service that flies beauty and grooming products to your permanent quarters at regular intervals. JetBlue’s sampling of products is far superior than most competitors, including gender-targeted products from the likes of Hanz de Fuko, LAB Series, and Ursa Major in favor of typical products like eye masks. Shaving lotion, mascara and deodorant have appeared in past kits, but thrillingly, the contents actually change every month.

American most notably rewards its heavyweight flyers in first class by packing its basic sleep tools – eye mask, ear plugs, socks, tissues – into a kit that doubles as a tablet case. Those most delighted by that news can keep their tablet screens clean with the included screen wipe, as well as pamper their delighted faces with face moisturizer (on top of the plebeian skin lotion) and lip balm from Akhassa.

Of course, this is just part of the picture, as carriers based outside of the U.S. have thrown their own kits into the ring – in many cases, to greater fanfare. The battle is ongoing, but Thursday, at least, United showed a willingness to fight.

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