Hello Kitty jets: 5 cutest airplanes ever
Forget the YouTube videos. If you want a real dose of cute cat, book a flight with Taiwan airline EVA Air.
The carrier has recently added two more Hello Kitty-themed aircraft [Chinese language] to its fleet, taking the total to five, on which everything from the fuselage to the flight attendants to the food is kitted out in the kawaii cat brand's images.
The fourth was launched in May and the fifth will launch on June 22 this year.
"The passengers over the world love the Hello Kitty jets since launched -- All the Hello Kitty jets have over 85 to 90 percent occupancy," said Liwen Liu, public relations officer of Evergreen Group, parent company of EVA Airways. "Therefore, EVA Airways dicussed further with Sanrio and decided to launch two more planes so we can fly more routes and entertain more passengers."
Passengers have been purring with delight, according to Anna Wong, an EVA Air public relations officer in Hong Kong.
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"Many people specify that they want to take EVA's special Hello Kitty jet," said Wong. "The response has been excellent so far."
This isn't the first time Taiwan's second-largest carrier and Japan's comic company, Sanrio, which owns the Hello Kitty brand, have collaborated.
The two companies launched the first generation of Hello Kitty jets in 2005. That Kitty fleet was disbanded in 2009, after its licensing agreement expired.
The new Taipei-based Hello Kitty jets -- following the themes of Hello Kitty Happy Music Time and Hello Kitty Speed Puff -- will join the three existing Hello Kitty jet family members and will operate on different routes originating from Taipei.
The Happy Music Time jet flies to Sapporo and Guam, as does the Magic jet. Speed Puff flies to Hong Kong. Apple Jet flies to Seoul and Fukuoka. Global Jet serves Hong Kong and Tokyo.
To book, passengers need to check for specific flight codes. See the bottom of this article for details.
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The Hello Kitty journey starts with Hello Kitty boarding passes and baggage stickers. Then passengers make their way to a you-can't-miss-it gate dedicated to the Hello Kitty flyer.
The boarding gate in Taipei's Taoyuan International Airport is pink and features a Hello Kitty playground.
On board, more than 100 in-flight items are specially designed with the Hello Kitty motif -- including headrest covers, tissues, paper cups, utensils, milk bottles, snacks, soap dispensers, hand lotion, meals and ice cream.
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Passengers can also purchase limited edition duty-free products, such as Hello Kitty-shaped pasta, from flight attendants wearing Hello Kitty aprons.
A dedicated website (in Chinese, Korean and Japanese only) features Kitty White -- Hello Kitty's "real" name -- from which we learn that Hello Kitty weighs as much as three apples and is as tall as five apples.
EVA Air has been operating for more than two decades with a mixed fleet of Airbus, Boeing and McDonnell Douglas aircraft.
The Hello Kitty theme can be found on the carrier's new Airbus A330-300s. Each of the new aircraft provides 30 premium laurel class seats (EVA's business class) and 279 economy class seats.
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Hello Kitty Happy Music Time flies Taipei-Sapporo (BR115/116) and Taipei-Guam (BR19/20)Hello Kitty Speed Puff flies Taipei-Hong Kong (BR857/858)Hello Kitty Magic Stars flies Taipei-Shanghai (BR771/772); Taipei-Tokyo (BR2189/2197)Hello Kitty Around the World flies Taipei-Shanghai (BR771/772); Taipei-Tokyo (BR2189/2197)Hello Kitty Loves Apple flies Taipei-Fukuoka (BR2106/2105) and Taipei-Seoul (BR160/159)
Article first published February 2012, updated June 2012