The new kits are called ‘Goodie Bags’ and are made from recyclable kraft paper. There are two versions, a black one for passengers in Upper Class and a smaller paper-bag brown one for those in Premium.
If paper amenity kits sound naff, they do look – and feel – better in real life. Virgin sent us samples of both kits and the paper feels oddly like leather, although the design itself is fairly plain. I preferred the Premium one myself, with the red zip adding a touch of zing to the design.
Both kits contain a bamboo toothbrush (see the Bambuubrush website here) with toothpaste from White Glo, a silk sleep mask (Upper Class gets it in black, Premium in red), a paper pen and ear plugs in paper packaging.
The Upper Class kit also includes Ren toiletries and some very funky looking socks which will supposedly vary depending on where you are flying.
The socks look really fun and are something I would keep – they are not your typical low-quality amenity-kit socks but actual day-to-day ones. These are not the branded ‘Happy Socks’ that were being given out on the A330-200 routes – I am guessing that, in deciding to roll out ‘designer’ socks to all Upper Class services, it made more sense to commission their own.
Upper Class travellers also get new pyjamas. These come in a neutral grey/plum combination and look quite comfortable.
If you are flying in Economy some items are available on request, including dental kits, sleep masks, socks and pens.
Are these really ‘sustainable’ amenity kits?
This is not the first time Virgin has had sustainable amenity kits. In 2012 (pre-Herschel) they had kits made from recycled plastic bottles.
Whilst the bag itself does not look as stylish as the existing Herschel amenity kit – it is a fairly bland black or brown – it is clear that Virgin Atlantic is taking calls for responsible aviation seriously, although the toiletries still come in (recycled) plastic containers. Virgin estimates it will save 945 tonnes of plastic every year.
I’m sold on the contents of the kit – Ren toiletries, a bamboo toothbrush and paper-wrapping where possible is great. The feel of the paper bags is good too – they have a tough, leathery quality about them.
What I’m confused by is both the colour scheme, which does not feel particularly ‘Virgin,’ and the lack of any interesting printing on them. It’s a missed opportunity not to commission some artists to create designs for the front of the bag. That would have turned it from something very boring to something interesting, premium-looking and collectible.
And – let’s be honest – if they really take the sustainable angle seriously, they should get rid of amenity kits entirely and offer self-service toiletries. Give people an empty bag and run a trolley down the aisle – or set up a display in the bar or bathroom – to allow people to take only what they want or need.
P.S. Virgin’s collectible Wilbur and Orville salt and pepper shakers are also getting a makeover in almond gold, although I’m not sure what colour that is! Rob claims to still have a pair at home he got in 1997 ….
How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles from UK credit cards
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