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American Airlines introduces new amenity kits in partnership with Shinola, DS & Durga

May 10, 2021
6 min read
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Despite the pandemic, American Airlines is investing in the premium-cabin experience.

On Monday, the Fort Worth-based carrier unveiled new amenity kits that'll begin rolling out immediately, designed in partnership with two well-respected brands, Shinola and D.S. & Durga.

The new amenity kits are available starting on Monday on all flights between the United States and London Heathrow (LHR). They'll roll out across other long-haul international and transcontinental routes throughout the summer.

American also teamed up with Shinola to create a limited-edition desk clock, featuring a dial made entirely from the original metal of a McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft, once the carrier's domestic workhorse before being retired in 2019. You'll also start seeing Shinola wall clocks in select Admirals Club lounges beginning later this summer.

See below for the full breakdown of the new kits and desk clock, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at how AA picked its two newest partners.

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Flagship First amenity kit

AA's new Flagship First amenity kit will be available exclusively in international first class. That means you need to be flying in one of the eight lie-flat pods on the carrier's Boeing 777-300ER to snag one of these Shinola-branded faux leather kits.

(Photo courtesy of American Airlines)

Inside you'll find a well-stocked assortment of travel essentials, including an eye mask, earplugs, dental kit, mouthwash, pen, socks and D.S. & Durga lip balm and hand lotion.

Flagship Business amenity kit

AA's Flagship Business kits will be available in long-haul biz, as well as in premium transcon first class on the Airbus A321T and Boeing 777-300ER.

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(Photo courtesy of American Airlines)

These soft-sided pouches will rotate colors and feature everything you'll find in the Flagship First amenity kit, except for lip balm and mouthwash. The eye mask is also noticeably flimsier than the one found in first class.

Premium economy amenity kit

You'll receive one of these kits either when flying in AA's international premium economy cabin or in biz on a premium transcon route.

(Photo courtesy of American Airlines)

The bags themselves are a bit smaller than the ones in Flagship Business, but they otherwise contain the exact same goodies.

Shinola MD-80 desk clock

The limited-edition desk clock is available for purchase for $395 either with or without a vintage American Airlines logo. You'll want to act fast since Shinola only produced 1,000 of them.

If you're looking for the AA logo, you'll want to head to American's website, while you can snag the clock sans logo via Shinola's website.

American MD-80 desk clock (Photo courtesy of American Airlines)

Each dial is crafted from the metal of a now-retired MD-80. Clock dials are hand-cut and repolished under the watchful eye of Moto Art in California, with final assembly in Shinola’s Detroit factory.

Why American teamed up with Shinola, DS & Durga

In advance of the launch, TPG spoke with AA's director of inflight experience, Nick Richards, as well as the founders of Shinola and D.S. & Durga.

In explaining why AA chose these two brands, Richards told TPG that "we seek brands that are rooted in creativity and especially those that celebrate travel before, during and after the actual journey. D.S. & Durga and Shinola underscore what we value in our partners at American."

Turns out, this partnership was a long-time coming for American. "These kits were actually scheduled to roll out last year," according to Richards. Now that AA has mostly depleted its stock of old amenity kits — with the remainder going to charity or gifted at internal events — May 10 was chosen as the switchover date for the new partnership.

As for D.S. & Durga, founders Kavi and David Moltz spoke to how their story uniquely fits into the American Airlines brand. David is a so-called "self-taught perfumer" who "figured it out" and "did it himself," unlike other larger perfumers who are trained in a traditional setting with formal schooling and hands-on experience.

"Fragrance is an art form... It has the power that's equal to literature, poetry, music. It means that we're not just making like a fun thing that smells good... it's a vehicle for telling really, really rich narratives that are very immersive," according to David.

American's Flagship First product (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

True to its mission, D.S. and Durga's picks for the AA amenity kits also tell a narrative. Radio Bombay, the scent of the hand lotion, was inspired by co-founder Kavi's home in India, where David would travel and play his guitar in the back-alleys of the Bandra in Mumbai.

Radio Bombay is "this sort of memory... of a smell that you get from the back of an amplifier when it's really hot, and it's really like a metallic greasy smell," David said.

David described the Rose Atlantic lip balm as what he remembers from his summers spent on the East Coast, "where you have the rosa rugosa petals by the beach and that salt spray."

Shinola CEO Shannon Washburn explained what the brand sees in its new AA partnership. "At Shinola, we're in the world of hospitality, whether it's meeting our guests at our stores or meeting our guests in our hotel or meeting our guests on an airline, we want quality experiences at every touchpoint. And I think partnering with American Airlines, it's just a perfect fit for us, and we're aligned with a brand that really thinks the same we do."

Related: A review of the new Shinola hotel in Detroit, Michigan

Washburn described the iterative process of designing and sampling many bags before agreeing on the final ones debuting on Monday. "We felt like these were items that the traveler would want to carry after they left the plane... we're pretty meticulous about detail and what we want to do. So that took some time, but I think we landed on three great silhouettes that really speak to the brand and what we're trying to do here," Washburn said.

As we wrapped up, I asked Richards how he feels about passengers who leave their amenity kits unused after a flight. "There's nothing I can't stand more than walking off and seeing my products just sitting there," he said.

With the new partnership, however, Richards hopes even more people will be excited about taking the kits home. "That's why it's so important that we are partnering with these relevant brands so that you're leaving something with somebody that they want to take with them and continue to use."

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more