American Airlines partnering with Cole Haan on upgraded amenity kits

  Cole Haan will partner with American Airlines on new amenity kits

Cole Haan will partner with American Airlines on new amenity kits

When I fly internationally, I prefer business or first class. That's the main reason I got into the points and miles "hobby." My primary rationale is simple: if I am going to be on an airplane for at least seven hours, I want to be comfortable and, on overnight flights, actually get some sleep. Being a big man, comfort means large seats that preferably lie flat when its time to get some ZZZs. That being said, the other perks that come with international premium cabins are more than welcome and certainly enhance a flight's comfort. To that end, I am excited about yesterday's announcement that American Airlines is partnering with Cole Haan to upgrade amenity kits in international first and business classes as well as domestic transcontinental first class.

From the AA press release:

American Airlines has come together with four unique brands to provide customers a new, elevated travel experience. Cole Haan, 3LAB Skincare, C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries and Clark’s Botanicals are working together to deliver this year’s newest amenity kits for the world’s largest airline. These essential amenity kits will arrive in-flight March of 2016. This is the first time American Airlines has partnered with a fashion and lifestyle brand to design and create an amenity kit, with each of the skincare products differentiated by cabin and class of service.

...

All kits will feature a custom bag designed by Cole Haan, inspired by their pinnacle design and innovation collection, ZerøGrand. Included in all kits are discount codes providing 20 percent off of the skincare brand in the kit and $75 towards a future Cole Haan purchase. Each kit includes a toothbrush, toothpaste, eyeshade, socks, and ear plugs.
— "American Airlines and Cole Haan Partner to Bring Luxury to the Skies" - American Airlines Newsroom

Here are the details on the three kits.

International First

  International First Class kit featuring Cole Haan and 3LAB

International First Class kit featuring Cole Haan and 3LAB

  • Featuring perforated detail and available in six different colors, this kit’s bag is inspired by Cole Haan’s design and innovation collection, ZerØGrand.
  • 3LAB Skincare products (M Cream, Perfect Hand Cream, and Perfect Lips (Balm), tissues, hand sanitizer, mouthwash, pen and foam headphone covers

International Business

  International Business Class kit featuring Cole Haan and C.O. Bigelow

International Business Class kit featuring Cole Haan and C.O. Bigelow

  • This Dopp Kit design is versatile and is available in eight different color combinations.
  • C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries products (lip balm, Lime & Coriander body lotion and mouthwash), tissues, pen and foam headphone covers.

Domestic Transcontinental First

  Domestic Transcontinental First Class kit featuring Cole Haan and Clark's Botanicals

Domestic Transcontinental First Class kit featuring Cole Haan and Clark's Botanicals

  • This kit’s bag resembles an envelope with its folds and stamped exterior and is available in six different colors.
  • Clark’s Botanicals skincare products (Smoothing Marine Cream, Ultra Rich Lip Balm, as well as Moisturizing Hand Cream and Refreshing Hand Wipe, both created exclusively for the American Airlines kit), toothbrush, toothpaste, eyeshade, socks and ear plugs.

Thoughts on the kits

I really like the looks of these kits in terms of the bag designs and color (at least the turquoise color that is shown). I love Cole Haan shoes - hopefully the $75 discount can be used on shoes! - so I would assume its accessories are of similar quality. As for the skincare products, I have no clue about any of those brands. Give me a Gillette razor, Carmex lip balm, and Old Spice body wash and I am good to go. In fact, I am not sure I have much need for some of these products, though lotion would be useful after a long flight in the dry air of an airplane cabin as well as a toothbrush and toothpaste (which is a run-of-the-mile brand, Crest!). 

My favorite bag design is the international business version. That's fortunate since I am booked for an AA business class flight in September from London to New York. The kits "will be distributed in four rotations of various colors, ending in March 2017. The first rotation of colors will last four and a half months beginning with the gray, blue and red kits." We don't have a full list of colors, but as long as I don't get red - no self-respecting Georgia Tech alumnus wants anything in red! - I will be pleased to get one of these kits for my flight!

From a business perspective, this is a good move given the intense competition from global carriers that offer far more luxurious premium cabins than the U.S. airlines. I recently read a blog post complimenting "a globally competitive first class product" on a Sydney-Los Angeles flight, feedback that has been rarely heard in recent years. Enhancing the amenity kits is another small piece of the enhanced service puzzle for American Airlines. Small things matter and often baby steps are required. It will be interesting to see what other changes come from American over the course of the next year and the impact of the airline's competitive positioning relative to its international competitors.