Road Warrior

And the TravelPlus Airline Amenity Bag Award Goes to ...

Ethiad Airways first class men's amenities bag.
Source: Ethiad Airways

Fine champagne, gourmet meals and lie-flat seats aren't the only luxuries of flying international business or first class. Most airlines also provide amenity bags packed with deluxe skin care products and other items designed to both pamper and remind a traveler of their premium travel experience.

(Read more: Airline Battles: How US Airlines Target High-End Customers)

The third annual TravelPlus Airline Amenity Bag Awards were held Tuesday night in Hamburg, Germany, bestowing top honors to various airlines across several categories. And while business and first class bags were a main focus, several economy class offerings were also recognized, as well as those specifically designed for children.

Airlines are continually investing in high-end amenity bags for their premium passengers. And there's even an aftermarket for them on eBay.

Marketing, Branding and Allure

The bags are an effective marketing tool for not only airlines, but also the bag's manufacturer and cosmetics companies whose products are included in the kits.

"It's estimated there are around 38,000 first-class seats available worldwide over any 24-hour period, and 68,000 business class," said Simon Ward, founder of TravelPlus. "If each of those has an amenity bag, the marketing and commercial opportunities are huge."

(Read more: First-Class Passengers Throw Fit Over Missing Perk)

Several top luggage manufacturers, such as Rimowa and Tumi, partner with airlines to develop the outer container. And similar high-end skin care providers, such as Bulgari, La Prairie and Kiehls, supply the internal items.

As a collector of amenity bags myself, I certainly have the brands associated with them top-of-mind and frequently purchase retail versions if I'm pleased with the products.

So how much do these kits cost an airline?

While the price an airline pays for each bag is proprietary, searching eBay gives an indication of their overall value to travelers. Some, in fact, sell for upwards of $100.

"The resale via eBay goes to prove that if the airline gets it right, the bag will be in demand especially as a collectible like the Rimowa, which is available now in six new colors and has been re-introduced by Thai after passengers demanded it," said Simon Ward.

Airline Amenity Bag Award Winners

A 10-team panel consisting of industry experts and frequent travelers judged each airline's submission to come up with the best-of-the-best across each award category. This year's winners were as follows:

  • First Class Female: Emirates Airways
  • First Class Male: Etihad Airways
  • First Class Unisex: Singapore Airlines
  • Business Class Female: Virgin Australia
  • Business Class Male: Qantas
  • Business Class Unisex: Turkish Airlines
  • Premium Economy: Condor
  • Economy: Virgin Atlantic
  • In-Flight Amenity Gift: Singapore Airlines
  • Children's Under 6: Qantas
  • Children's Over 6: Qatar Airways

(Read more: Road Warrior Tested: Singapore Airlines Business Class)

For more information on TravelPlus and the Amenity Bag Awards, click here.