Singapore Airlines will finally begin handing out amenity kits to business class passengers, although the new kits will make their debut not in the air but on the ground, as part of the airline’s ‘dine at home’ experience.
Executive Traveller understands that business class travellers won’t see the kits – developed as a partnership with British perfumers Penhaligon’s – for some months.
Each of the unisex kits comes in a green Penhaligon’s bag containing lip balm, hand lotion and facial mist from Penhaligon’s Quercus range, which leads with citrus and basil underpinned by notes of jasmine, cardamom, lily and amber.
Founded in 1870 by William Penhaligon, the firm is a suitably premium brand for Singapore Airlines, which has long resisted following other airlines in offering business class amenity kits.
"I ask myself, 'Do I want to spend $6-8 million just on an amenity kit?”’ Mr Tan Pee Teck, then Singapore Airlines' Senior Vice President for Product & Services – and now Senior VP for Cabin Crew – told Executive Traveller in September 2015.
“At last count, I think there were 38 airlines with business class that gave amenity kits (but) you can't really differentiate yourself through an amenity kit, and if you travel very often, this thing is just left behind.”
“So we decided to pump the money into other things for business class, and just make sure that our bathroom is stocked properly.”
Although business class passengers have always been supplied with slippers, eye shades and socks, the airline opted to have its bathrooms stocked with a supply of shaving and dental kits, combs and the like.
That, of course, was then. Before Covid-19 reshaped the travel industry, Singapore Airlines was working away behind the scenes on this rolling refresh of its business class service proposition ahead of the launch of a new business class seat for the Boeing 777-9.
This was also set to encompass changes to its popular Book the Cook service, which lets passengers pre-order their meal from a far more extensive menu than is offered on the flight.
“Like everything, the Book The Cook programme evolves,” Singapore Airlines’ Global Food & Beverage Director Antony McNeil told Executive Traveller in late 2019.
McNeil cited the airline’s iconic Lobster Thermidor as a prime candidate for that evolution.
"The Lobster Thermidor is a perennial favourite but we're looking at opportunities to modernise that, whether it be a Lobster Thermidor-type of dish or something similar and lobster- themed which is a little bit more modern, a little bit more healthy perhaps.”
“People like lobster, but we're moving to an environment where people are becoming more health-conscious so maybe the creamy lobster dish is not the right one… maybe a beautiful grilled lobster with fresh asparagus or veggies might be another alternative, as long as we maintain the integrity of the dish.”
Another modern twist: vegetarian-friendly satays made from plant-based Impossible Meat.
The signature dish of business and first class still comes with that spicy peanut sauce, but the chicken, lamb and beef has been swapped out for a vegetarian-friendly equivalent created by California's Impossible Foods to deliver the same taste and texture.
Also under consideration was a ‘dine on demand’ meal service, which would allow business class passengers to select anything off the menu at any time during the flight.
Covid-19 has obviously thrown a giant-sized spanner into all of this, including the rollout of Singapore Airlines’ business class amenity kits, but at least they’re on the way…