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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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Comments (78)

  • Nick_C says:

    A environmentally friendly amenity kit for people flying thousands of miles in low density seating. The irony.

    I always find uses for the pouches and bags but the only thing I very occasionally need is a pen. Make the amenities available on demand.

  • Flyingbee says:

    Personally I think individual items should be on demand. I always carry my own kit with slippers, nice mask and my preferred brand of ear plug. Occasionally if I’ve checked my case in I’ll use the dental kit. That’s it. When you are doing 20 long haul flights a year, there’s only so many little pouches you, your friends and family need for cables…

    My cables pouch is a Cathay Pacific one from around 10 years ago and it’s still going strong.

    • xcalx says:

      I am still using an ANZ draw string amenity kit bag from 2009 for suntan creams.

      • ankomonkey says:

        We use the Herschel bags to take toiletries when the kids go swimming to use when they shower afterwards. We have a Wilbur & Orville set permanently on display as my wife thinks they’re ‘kawaii’.

        • mvcvz says:

          Am I the only one who has less than zero interest in receiving this pointless tat? I just want a safe, reliable, comfortable flight.

  • Andrew says:

    The Onesie was a one-off promotion a couple of years ago. The current sleep suit is a similar top and bottoms design – they are just redesigning them for this relaunch so they are more like something you would take and wear at home.

  • Mr(s) Entitled says:

    Sadly you also can’t allow people to take what they WANT or need. In the very next paragraph you then make reference to reusable salt and pepper shakers taken out of circulation due to want, not need. Items should be on request only.

  • Shoestring says:

    An Extinction Rebellion splinter group, Heathrow Pause, has revealed plans to ground flights from Heathrow from Sept 13 using drones.

  • M Todd says:

    I thought everyone had a set of VA salt and pepper shakers at home:)

  • ThinkSquare says:

    They have onesies now? I got pyjamas on an IAD flight in February (and very good they are too)

    • Andrew says:

      They don’t have onesies now – that’s a mistake in the article. They had them for about a week, as a promotion, about 2 years ago.

  • Stephen says:

    I have a feeling that if you set them up in the galley for people to “help themselves”, they’d get through more items than giving everyone one of everything….. I can imagine people filling up bags with miniature toothpastes!