Virgin Atlantic is launching new sustainable amenity kits – but have they got it right?

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Virgin Atlantic is re-launching its amenity kits to coincide with the launch of its new Upper Class Suite on the A350-1000 starting on 10th September. These are replacing the existing Herschel kits.

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.

Virgin Atlantic sustainable amenity kit goodie bag

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 ….

Virgin Atlantic sustainable Upper Class goodie bag amenity kit

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  1. Shoestring says:

    we come back to my population point: world population was 3 billion in 1960, 8 billion now, shortly to be 9 billion (2030?)

    an increase of 200% in 70 years

    yet nobody talks about population or population control

    • Thanos did, but it didn’t go well. 😉

    • RussellH says:

      I hope those ‘billions’ are just thousands of millions (10^9) and not the billions we learned about in school (10^12)

      • Shoestring says:

        yep I’m vaguely aware of (10^12) – but who/ where is that ever used these days? presumably in some arcane science areas, but in daily life, the world has adopted (10^9)

        • RussellH says:

          The (American) English speaking world may have blindly followed the American usage, but in other European countries the word for 10^9 is ‘milliard’ or very similar. The English equivalent is ‘myriad’, but that sadly, has changed its meaning much more drastically.

          Maybe we should all be counting in ‘lakhs’ (10^5) as in India.

          • No, a myriad is ten thousand. Milliard is the English word as well.

          • RussellH says:

            Quite correct. Someone gave me false info years ago!
            But it does beg the question of why we do not use milliard in English English.

    • RussellH says:

      Very true.
      But it is only two generations back that European families were huge too.
      Now we need immigrants to pay the taxes to pay for my pensions…

      • Lady London says:

        Dont get me started about British pensions being ‘unfunded’ which makes us all vulnérable.

        Should have something like Australian or Hong Kong system.

    • Bernie Sanders did just the other day there.

      USA funding “abortions for brown and poor babies” didn’t go down terribly well though.

    • Memesweeper says:

      Population is levelling out. Growth is slowing almost everywhere as people get richer and life expectancy improves. It’s possible to sustain 9 or 10bn people with the resources the earth has. The biomass of ants alone is greater than humans. Unfortunately we need to strip out the unsustainable practices, like fuel and plastic products from mineral oil, slash and burn agriculture, single use products, etc, which we all seem very keen on these days.

      • Memesweeper says:

        … so well done Virgin for trying to take a step in the right direction.

      • Without going too wildy off topic, read The Unihabitable Planet by David Wallace Wells if interested. It’s shocking although does drag on nearer the end. I’ve changed my view on things since reading it. Less (not zero) air travel, luxury and reducing carbon footprint for our kids and future generations before its too late.

    • People regularly talk about population control. It never gets anywhere because it’s just plain ridiculous (in the forms people tend to bring it up in anyway – suggestions for better access to birth control etc. are sensible).

      • So what about the other end of the spectrum Callum: is voluntary or even involuntary euthanasia sensible too? Or perhaps you would like to see a resurgence in endocannibalism? Not all tribes waited for the death of loved ones or neighbours to have a feast!

    • Unsavage gerbil says:

      Nor something you will need to worry about, being close to pensionable age Harry!!!

      • Shoestring says:

        I’ve got 3 teenagers though!

        • I know two people personally, who noth had kids 16 years after their last so don’t go planning your longhaul travels again just yet Harry.

  2. i remember flying VS economy across the Atlantic about 16 years ago – and enjoyed the “amenity” kit (pen / notepad / plastic wallet) … especially as i got nothing when i flew Concorde a few months later!

  3. Optimus Prime says:

    OT – Offer on Amex Plat and supplementary for Kuoni: spend £1000 and get £100

  4. OT anyone know if BA charge to add a inbound flight to single outbound companion ticket that’s already booked thanks

    • If inbound was not yet released (ie greater than t-355) at time of booking outbound, no charge. If inbound was unavailable as no availability, then charge

  5. Its a bit hypocritical.
    Saving the planet while flying 1/2 way across the planet!

  6. Are the socks and sleep suits still made out of polyester 100% as before? If so, then Virgin Atlantic has missed the opportunity to get rid of another fabric that has virtually indestructible fibres.

  7. OT but Virgin. I’m on Silver currently and need 400 Tier points for Gold. Any tips on a good Tier point run? I have a couple of 2 for 1 vouchers I’d like to use on Upper Class. Will the KLM agreement help, I often take European flights with work?

    • Shoestring says:

      similar for KLM showing TPs you can earn on Virgin when you fly AF/ KLM – it has to be said it is fairly dismal in Europe ie 5 or 10 TPs so you might need to take quite a few short haul flights 🙂

    • Oh! Matron! says:

      So, a few easy opportunities…

      LHR – TLV is a quick (as in not having to fly across the atlantic)

      The other, slightly cheaper route, would be business in SQ from Stockholm to Moscow. That gets you 150

      Lastly, if you’re creative, classes J, C, D, I in delta get you 40 tier points for each leg. I did SFO-LAX-LAS-SJC last month which netted me 120 points. Tag on a transatlantic in UC, and you should be able to get very close to your 400

      • Oh! Matron! says:

        Bad form, replying to my own post, but:

        Boston (BOS) to Washington (DCA) — Sat, Oct 26
        Long layover

        Boston (BOS) to New York (LGA) — Sat, Oct 26
        Delta 1544
        Dep: 11:00 am
        Arr: 12:20 pm
        1h 20m
        Boeing 717
        Economy (V)
        Layover in LGA
        3h 40m

        New York (LGA) to Washington (DCA) — Sat, Oct 26
        Delta 5895
        Dep: 4:00 pm
        Arr: 5:26 pm
        1h 26m
        Embraer RJ-175
        First (Z)
        Washington (DCA) to Boston (BOS) — Sun, Oct 27

        Washington (DCA) to New York (JFK) — Sun, Oct 27
        Delta 1259
        Dep: 6:00 am
        Arr: 7:13 am
        1h 13m
        Boeing 717
        First (Z)
        Layover in JFK
        1h 57m

        New York (JFK) to Boston (BOS) — Sun, Oct 27
        Delta 3473
        Dep: 9:10 am
        Arr: 10:30 am
        1h 20m
        Canadair RJ 900
        First (Z)

        Gets you 160 tier points for $394. Tag in a transatlantic with a connection in UC (100*2 + 40*2), and you’ve your 400 points

  8. Shoestring says:

    O/T What has gone so wrong that British Airways pilots earning six-figure salaries are angry enough to strike?

    in-depth article worth a read

    • Essentially it seems like they have the same gripes as the pax and find it demoralising. I wonder how significant the snippet was about safety culture, and if there are common concerns undermining pilot confidence. It remains unclear (to me at least) if negotiations are covering all these issues or if they are focussed largrly on pay. If the latter, I imagine it is share of profits that must be the problem.

  9. Don’t like them. I’m actually glad I swiped a second Premium amenity kit on my last flight. The contents are quite nice but the pouches look like something that’s been fished out of the bin after someone ditched it in disgust. It feels like it’s *less* sustainable this way – they’re only fit for dumping, whereas the Herschel ones could be reused.

    I quite like the idea of just letting people take what they want though. I love mini bottles of things and little kits, but one of my colleagues has basically no interest so it would be wasted on him.

    They make the BA product look far more appealing than in comparison.

    • Oh! Matron! says:


      For the same reason they got rid of (the very excellent) ThisWorks Lavender sprays. They Cabin Crew used to find them dumped all over the cabin.

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