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40,000 FEET OVER THE EAST CHINA SEA: This is not a typical flight, precisely. For one, the outdoor of our EVA Airways jet is plastered with some ordinary paint. Instead of the airline’s same old white, inexperienced and orange colour scheme, this plane displays a large yellow squirrel, a endure, and Hello Kitty. All are professing their love of apples.

And the outdoor is handiest the place it starts.

The inside the plane is awash in Hello Kitty, too. Dozens of things bearing Kitty’s likeness are be discovered from the relief of 1’s seat. One of the arena’s maximum loved characters, Hello Kitty graces headrest covers, pillow circumstances, protection playing cards, the leisure gadget, flight attendant uniforms, utensils, sugar packets and extra.

TODAY IN THE SKY: EVA Air to fly Hello Kitty Boeing 777s from Houston

Not even the toilets supply a shelter from the Kitty-fication, that includes Hello Kitty cleaning soap. Hello Kitty tissues, and sure, even Hello Kitty rest room paper.

The experience — and that’s the phrase that perfect describes this — starts even previous, from the instant passengers set foot within the airport. The check-in table? Clad in purple Hello Kitty. Bag tags and boarding passes? Stamped with Hello Kitty. The gate itself is a component boarding house and section Kitty retailer, the place passengers can drop greenbacks on Kitty-themed presents to deliver house to family members (or to stay for themselves).

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The overwhelming cuteness of the flight unearths small children (and a few now not so younger other people) clutching Hello Kitty backpacks and paraphernalia. Businessmen in fits seem mortified, mystified, and possibly just a bit curious on the sight ahead of them.

Thus is the scene aboard what could also be the arena’s cutest flight: EVA Airways Flight 105, that includes the airline’s unique Hello Kitty carrier. As the jet cruises towards Taipei, it is one in all handiest 19 such flights EVA will fly nowadays. Each simply as purrfectly lovely and overwhelmingly lovely because the others.

Hello Kitty unearths EVA

Hello Kitty started her existence in 1974, the discovery of Japanese design, product, and licensing company Sanrio. Aimed squarely at Japan’s long-standing intrigue with all issues lovely, referred to as the “kawaii” aesthetic, Kitty first gave the impression on a vinyl coin handbag.

The persona was once an rapid hit. Kitty’s attraction exploded in Japan, after which past because the creature grew to grow to be an international phenomenon.

Having ballooned way past previous that first coin handbag, the Hello Kitty Empire has since prolonged into — or, most likely extra as it should be, onto — anything else and the whole lot conceivable. Cribs to garments, medication kits to song movies, rest room paper to TV displays; if you’ll dream it, Hello Kitty has most definitely graced it.

Which leads again to airplanes.

Taipei, Taiwan-based EVA Airways first teamed up with Sanrio again in 2005.

“Sanrio approached us; wanted to sell the in-flight product to us in the very beginning,” says Glenn Chai, Executive Vice President, EVA Planning Division.

Chai says EVA instructed taking it a step additional. The airline envisioned an immersive Hello Kitty theme jet enjoy with characters pained at the outdoor and branded pieces filling the interior. The first Hello Kitty plane, an Airbus A330-200, debuted in October 2005. A 2d was once offered three hundred and sixty five days later.

Kitty disappeared from the skies in 2009 after the preliminary product license ran out. But she returned in 2011 to have a good time EVA’s 20th anniversary and Sanrio’s 50th. The airline doubled down at the enjoy for Kitty’s 2d existence, increasing the in-flight enjoy from 40ish on-board pieces to over 100, and beginning with 3 brand-new Airbus A330 jets.

The flights, says Chai, are vastly in style. Passengers incessantly fly “with EVA on a route just because [it is a] Kitty flight,” he says. He provides that they promote three% higher than common flights, regardless of having a top rate tacked onto the price tag worth.

“If we operate a Hello Kitty flight, our fare is always higher than even our competitor,” says Chai, “But [passengers are] willing to buy it.”

Paying a top rate for the enjoy is not the one factor passengers are keen to do, on the other hand. Myriad Kitty- themed pieces tend to stroll away after the flight, Chai says. “All of those items, they take away. They are really crazy for that,” he says of passengers on EVA’s Hello Kitty flights.

To stay the enjoy recent for the 1000’s of Kitty enthusiasts that come aboard every yr, EVA rotates on-board pieces seasonally and switches them out totally each and every different yr. Several limited-edition pieces can handiest be bought by means of the on board duty-free retailer, making them particularly well-liked by a subset of die-hard Kitty creditors.

Chai says the reason in the back of the flights is understated: “To make your journey more fun; provide a fun element to your flight.”

That, and Kitty “is very profitable,” Chai concedes.

Hello Kitty returning to North America

EVA recently operates six uniquely themed Hello Kitty jets: 5 Airbus A330s and one Boeing 777-300ER. All 5 of the ones Airbus jets serve regional locations in northern Asia, with flights to Seoul, Shanghai, and 3 towns in Japan. The longer-range Boeing 777 flies — for now — completely to Paris, 3 times every week.

Passengers on the lookout for Kitty-themed carrier from North America are out of good fortune, however now not for for much longer.

TODAY IN THE SKY: EVA Air’s Hello Kitty jet heads to Paris (September 2014)
TODAY IN THE SKY: EVA’s ‘Hello Kitty jets’ take to the runways at LAX (September 2013)

The airline announced in December that it could be upload Houston to its community. EVA will introduce a brand-new Hello Kitty jet just for the occasion. EVA previously flew Kitty flights to Los Angeles ahead of moving those flights to Paris ultimate September.

Details on what the most recent Kitty jet will seem like have now not but been printed, however the airline promised the brand-new jet “will be specially painted nose-to-tail with Texas–sized Hello Kitty and Sanrio characters.”

The new Houston service begins on June 19, 3 times weekly, ahead of expanding to 4 occasions weekly on July 1.

Meanwhile, again on what rather well could also be the happiest flight on earth, lunch has simply been served. A field kiddie meal, that this writer willfully selected, is put on to the tray desk 20 rows deep into economic system. As the box-top pops open a number of balls of fruit, pasta items or even the pancakes stare again. Every ultimate one is formed within the likeness of — you guessed it — Hello Kitty.

Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren is a Seattle-based photojournalist and aviation author and a contributor to Ben Mutzabaugh’sToday in the Skyblog. You may also observe Jeremy on Twitter at @photoJDL.

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