Unusual collection: Airline amenity kits (photos)

The contents of airline amenity kits have not changed much over the years. This is a United kit from the 1960s (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

This is a United kit from the 1960s (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

The airline inflight amenity kit has been a staple of business travel since the 1950′s when transoceanic air travel became relatively common.

The kits really came into their own in the 1950’s when a company called the AirTex of Des Moines, Iowa had a virtual monopoly on what it called R.O.N. (Remain Over Night) kits, which contained the essential accouterments for going to sleep and waking up refreshed.

Contents have evolved over the years, but the basics remain much the same. Back in the day, there were “his” and “her” kits. His contained deodorant, aftershave, hair cream, a razor and a comb. Hers included hair spray, cleansing cream, hand cream and nail polish remover.

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 2.45.00 PMOver the years, eye masks, towelettes, socks or booties, lip balm, mints and facial spritzers have made their way into and out of the kits. Airline branded soap and washcloths were there, too. Then there are the blankets, robes, kimonos and slippers.

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The SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport has one of the best collections of aviation memorabilia in the world, which it displays in a large space in the International Terminal and in various exhibitions in airport concourses.

Museum curator Dennis Sharp told TravelSkills, “The most unusual kit in the collection is the President Special, a sleek gold anodized tube that was given to first class passengers on Pan Am Stratocruiser ‘sleeperette’ service between New York and London.” (See photo below)

Currently, its collection of R.O.N. kits and similar inflight amenities is on display in at SFO’s Terminal 1, pre-security, near the corridor that connects it to the International Terminal.

For those who don’t have the time to drop by, here’s my take (and photos) of this unusual collection. (On display through September 30, 2014)

Do you have an old or unusual inflight amenity kit you’d like to donate to the collection? If so, the SFO Museum would love to hear from you. Contact Curator by clicking here. 

What do you do with your left over amenity kits? I store all mine in an old suitcase in my basement! I can’t bear the thought of throwing them away.  Please leave your comments below!

From now defunct Hughes Airwest. Check out the bottle of haircream and tube of deodorant! (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

A kit from the 1970s from now defunct Hughes Airwest. Check out the bottle of haircream and tube of deodorant! (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Does anyone remember Alaska's Golden Nugget jets? (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Does anyone remember Alaska’s Golden Nugget jets? (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Check out the BEDS upstairs on that mock up of a JAL 747 along w a collection of eye masks (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Check out the BEDS upstairs on that mock up of a JAL 747 along w a collection of eye masks (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

TWA's woolen sleep socks kept business class feet warm on cold overnight flights (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

TWA’s woolen sleep socks kept business class feet warm on cold overnight flights (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Pan Am's President Special- a sleek anodized gold tube and razor (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Pan Am’s President Special- a sleek anodized gold tube and razor (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

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More kits from the 1960s and 1970s. (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

More kits from the 1960s and 1970s. (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Please join the 25,000 people who read TravelSkills every month! Sign up here for one email per day updates!

Do you have an old or unusual inflight amenity kit you’d like to donate to the collection? If so, the SFO Museum would love to hear from you. Contact Curator by clicking here. 

What do you do with your left over amenity kits? I store all mine in an old suitcase in my basement! I can’t bear the thought of throwing them away.  Please leave your comments below!

–Chris McGinnis

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