American Airlines introduces new amenity kits in partnership with Shinola, DS & Durga
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Despite the pandemic, American Airlines is investing in the premium-cabin experience.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.”
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 photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy
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