My Experience With American’s New Cole Haan Amenity Kits

As of this month, American has rolled out new Cole Haan amenity kits for their premium cabin passengers. It’s a cool premium partnership with a well known brand. The kits go beyond American and Cole Haan, though, as they’ll also offer skincare products from premium brands, including 3LAB Skincare, C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries, and Clark’s Botanicals. Perhaps the best part is that you get a discount voucher for the respective products when you receive one of these kits.

See my previous post for the details American promoted about the new kits, which differ for international first class, international business class, and transcon first class. Also, here’s the press release American published at the time.

With that in mind, I figured I’d share my experience with the new Cole Haan amenity kits based on my flights this past weekend. I flew American’s A321 business class roundtrip between Los Angeles and New York.

American-A321-Business
American’s A321 business class

On the outbound we were given the first class kits (I’m not sure why), while on the return we were given the business class amenities. With that in mind, here are my thoughts:

American’s A321 transcon business class amenities

One thing which wasn’t very clearly outlined when American introduced these new kits is that they eliminated amenity kits in transcon business class. I don’t mind this, since it seemed a bit unnecessary to offer them on a five hour domestic flight.

Instead American is now offering basic amenities in business class on their A321s, including eyeshades and socks in plastic wrapping.

Cole-Haan-Amenity-Kit-4

It’s not the classiest presentation, though those are the two most valuable amenities you can have on a short flight with a flat bed, in my opinion.

Cole-Haan-Amenity-Kit-6

The coolest feature is that the eyeshades and socks are held together by a fold of paper with a Cole Haan discount code, offering $75 off a purchase of $250 or more. The discount is valid through December 31, 2018, and seems to have fairly few restrictions. If you ever buy anything from Cole Haan, that’s pretty awesome (and if anyone has a use for the code below, feel free to use it).

Cole-Haan-Amenity-Kit-5

For most people this will probably be a downgrade, since there were previously amenity kits in business class. But it’s not a downgrade I have much of an issue with, since amenity kits did seem a bit wasteful.

However, if you were going to buy something from Cole Haan anyway, this kit is a huge upgrade.

American’s A321 transcon first class class kit

Like I said, on the outbound redeye from Los Angeles to New York, everyone was offered a first class amenity kit. I’m not sure if this is standard on redeyes (because toiletries are more valuable on these flights), or if it was a fluke. I’m guessing the latter.

This amenity kit is intended to resemble an envelope.

Cole-Haan-Amenity-Kit-1

I give them credit for their commitment to the theme, since the backside even shows Cole Haan in New York as the sender, American Airlines in Dallas as the recipient, and has a fake stamp with the American Airlines logo.

Cole-Haan-Amenity-Kit-2

While American sticks to the theme quite well, the envelope is really flimsy and feels rather cheap. Usually I like amenity kits because they’re durable and I can use them long term to store cords, liquids, etc. Don’t expect to reuse this kit.

The contents themselves are decent. In addition to the eyeshades and socks, there’s a dental kit, as well as four items from Clark’s Botanicals. These include a hand wipe, lip balm, hand cream, and a face cream. These are a nice upgrade over the old Red Flower amenities which American used to offer.

Cole-Haan-Amenity-Kit-3

On top of that there was a discount code for 20% off a Clark’s Botanicals purchase.

My thoughts on the new amenity kits

I’m not someone who cares all that much about amenity kits. Sure, I like a really blinged out amenity kit, like the ones offered in Emirates first class and Singapore Airlines first class. But I’m also totally fine when airlines don’t offer them, like in Singapore Airlines business class, where amenities are available on demand. That seems efficient to me.

Let’s quickly look at the amenity kits which the new Cole Haan ones are replacing. For transcon business class they previously offered the following amenity kits:

American-Business-Class-A321 - 16

And then for first class and longhaul business class they offered the following heritage amenity kits:

American-767-Business-Class - 17

As an aviation geek I loved the heritage amenity kits, which were themed after all the airlines which eventually formed the “new” American:

American-Airlines-Amenity-Kit-1

All that being said, I do think the discount codes being offered with the new kits are pretty awesome. Cole Haan has some great stuff, and I love 3LAB skincare products as well, so maybe that’s an incentive to fly American international first class again, since that’s the only place the 3LAB discount codes are being offered (or if anyone is flying American international first class and doesn’t plan on using their discount code…). 😉

Bottom line

It was cool to see American’s new Cole Haan amenities firsthand. While not as targeted at aviation geeks, it’s logical, premium partnership. I also commend American for the skincare companies they’re partnering with. It’s interesting that they have different levels of partners depending on the class of service, with international first class getting the excellent 3LAB amenities.

The discount codes are also awesome. It’s great for those of us who already like the products, but presumably it’ll also generate incremental business from people who wouldn’t otherwise have made purchases from those brands.

All that being said, I was a bit disappointed in the execution of the transcon kits. The business class plastic wrapped amenities seem a bit cheap (maybe they could at least put them in a small pouch), while the first class kits are a cool concept, but in practice very flimsy and not practical for reuse.

If you’ve experienced American’s new Cole Haan amenities, what did you think?

Comments

  1. In and of itself, not a big deal, although my wife lived the creams. But another sign of Parkersburg lack of trustworthiness given the hoop lag on improving the premium cabin experience.

  2. I haven’t experienced these amenity kits, but I love Cole Haan, so I’m looking forward to my flight to Australia later in the year.

    I do like my amenity kits to be reusable. I still have one from 7 years ago which I still travel with, and I always keep the little drawstring plastic bags from Qantas, as they are the perfect size for packing hairbrushes and combs.

  3. I also liked the amenity kits of about 4 or 5 years ago. They were in a very handy sized travel bag and had Burts Bees items. I cherished those kits and gave several to out of town guests when they came to visit. I now wish I hadn’t as you can no longer purchase that terrific Burt’s Bees Honey and Milk lotion.

    I do know that although I find it a novelty, my guests were all very appreciative of the kits, and many are still using those AA travel bags. I think its a shame that AA is not investing a little more into a better kit.

  4. I liked the Cole Haan amenity bag we got Shanghai-LAX this weekend. The eyeshades were much more comfortable than what was provided in the past. Also got a larger tube of toothpaste which was enough for using at hotel on my stopover. I used the lip balm but always periodically send a collection of the socks (also looked better than prior) and anything left along with hotel shampoo etc to homeless shelters. The new zippered bag (different from your photos) was really nice and I plan to store some headphones and chargers in it.

  5. I don’t think US airlines get enough credit for their amenity kits. Sure, they may not be blinged out with Rimowa cases and Ferragamo toiletries, but they’ve generally got more useful “stuff” in them – pens, mouthwash, tissues, mints, etc. Compare that to a lot of the European carriers, where you’re lucky to get more than the basic socks/eyeshade/toothbrush/lip balm in J (looking at you, LX!)

    The best kit I ever got was in UA’s GlobalFirst on FRA-ORD a few years ago. It didn’t have a designer label and the toiletry brand was “just” philosophy, but the bag was a nice trifold unit with a solid magnetic clasp that could actually be reused as a toiletry kit. The contents included mouthwash, dental floss, comb, pen, tissues, eyeglass/screen cleaner, mini Purell, facial spray, shoehorn, shoe polish, and mints, in addition to the usual suspects. Those are FAR more useful when travelling than a miniature bottle of eau de toilette!

    My least favourite are those sad felt bags given out by the likes of OS and NZ. What am I supposed to do with those after? The OS one I got last week doesn’t even have a proper closure, just a loose strap.

  6. What’s the case/envelope made of? You said it was flimsy but it looks like a soft vinyl.

  7. Ben always conflates/says “Dallas” despite myself and several others who have brought it to his attention and the repeated directives by AA to employees to refer to it as “DFW” or “Dallas/Ft. Worth” over the years.

  8. Love the comments about Fort Worth. The envelope clearly has Fort Worth (not Dallas) as the address. AA is based in Fort Worth. If you want a Dallas based airline, that would be Southwest.

    Signed, another Fort Worth resident.

  9. I think the best “coupon” in the amenities that is offered is the $500 HK$ from Cathay for Pi. As most people usually have 2 coupons, one can receive a very nice organic cotton shirt for free, or almost free. I don’t think there is a minimum purchase. We usually buy more anyway. The First class pajamas are soft, not very attractive, but Pi shirts are awesome.

  10. Dallas, Fort Worth, same difference. Both are in Texas and hold no relevance to transcon flyers, besides reminding them of the embarrassing fact that their airline is based in flyover country.

  11. I got the black/blue zipper bag kit on PVG-ORD in 772 F yesterday, I was not that impressed with the bag itself (the contents are fine), it feels cheap (die punched pattern on the vinyl). Will email you the 3lab code, I have no use for it.

  12. The Cole Haan kit being dolled out on AA’s International Biz class is hands down the nicest kit of the 3 new ones. and i love all the different colors. They’re even nicer then their First Class kit. But the latest & greatest amenity kit now, comes to you from Brussels Airlines. I just got one 2 weeks ago on BRU-JFK flight. Its a red color Mandarina Duck kit. Really cool. Haven’t seen it advertised anywhere yet, but its the hottest and best kit i got, and can’t wait to reuse it. Worth taking the flight just for the sake of getting the kit 😉

  13. The former AA management, I’m not sure if it’s the same team doing the kits now, understood that people like to reuse the kits and often keep them for years. Apparently this was some of the most frequent feedback they would receive on the kits.
    I have to agree the international business class kit is currently the most functional out there and deffently one that can be reused. The new international first kit is really bad. It looks okay in pictures but in person it looks like a ladies cheap throw away club purse and it feels even worse. I also miss the travel size mouthwash bottle as it was handy for a couple days once you got off the plane and was totally a USAir improvement to the kit.

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